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Scoping opportunities in China’s Creative Industries

New AHRC R&D programme with Chinese partners

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) successfully secured £5M - plus co-funding from Chinese partners - for a major new programme seeking to develop R&D partnerships between the UK and China within the Creative Industries. This will be delivered over the next four years in partnership with the Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA) and the Shanghai Economy and Information Technology Commission (SEITC).

We were commissioned by the AHRC to undertake a scoping study to identify where opportunities for R&D collaboration lay, which a programme of funding could successfully support. For this, we focused on areas where policy and commercial interests in the UK and China overlap. These included film and TV, immersive experiences and technologies, video games, data-driven design and AI, IP and copyright, as well as skills and capacity development.

This study provides a comprehensive understanding of the existing market and policy conditions in China’s Creative Industries. Some of the findings from the study include:

Skills shortages

China’s recent cultural infrastructure boom i.e. the number of new theatres, museums, cinemas etc., has not been matched by an appropriate increased supply of talent. Educational offerings have fallen behind and there are not enough qualified professionals, particularly in areas that are not focused on the ‘traditional arts’. There is a critical shortage of skilled professionals across the industries in China, and for the Chinese government to meet its ambitious economic targets a rapid-scaling up of talent development and training programmes is required.

Internationalising China’s film and video productions

In an attempt to protect and develop the domestic industry, the Chinese government has implemented strict controls over the importation of foreign film and video. However, relatively limited success domestically and internationally for Chinese productions is keeping budgets comparatively low and is hampering industry development. These limitations directly impact the quality and development of domestic production and post-production services and processes: SFX and animation are for example below international standards. The Chinese and Shanghai governments have committed to the internationalisation of Chinese film and video and to bringing quality in line with international standards. This is to enable Chinese productions to compete internationally and to grow exports in this area.

Immersive experiences and technologies

China is the world’s largest investor in VR and related technology, with the majority of that investment in hardware. Immersive technologies provide a means to scale access to culture and creative content for the largest audience in the world. The Chinese and Shanghai governments have identified immersive technologies and experiences as a potential means of providing cultural experiences to mass audiences in public spaces.

Full study here.

As a first phase of the funding programme, the AHRC has a number of grants available to fund partnership development opportunities for UK and Chinese partners. Further information about these grants is available here.

If you are interested in knowing more about this work and our work in China please contact Conor Roche.