At the heart of the Philippine archipelago, for the last 500 years, the city of Cebu, home to a population of 923,000, has been a hub of trade, culture and innovation. Traditionally known for furniture, arts and crafts, and fashion design, it is generally considered to be the country’s design capital. Moreover, in recent years, Cebu has also become a global hub for multimedia arts and IT outsourcing. In 2008, Cebu was designated a British Council Creative City of Design and was the ASEAN City of Culture in 2015.
Cebu City has always been very supportive of the arts, best epitomized by Sinulog - the country's longest-running festival that attracts 2 million visitors annually, showcasing Cebuano heritage and imagination. June 2018 saw the launch of the first Cebu Design Week (CDW), a multi-disciplinary, multi-format series of events which aimed to connect the fragmented creative ecosystem, providing opportunities for the creation, collaboration and development of long-term platforms for sustainable development. In partnership with Cebu Business Month, these events are perhaps the most significant owing to their promoting of cross-sectoral collaborations and multi-disciplinary approaches to achieving unique and effective results that are socially-inclusive, environmentally-respectful and economically-sustainable.
It is estimated that the creative industries account for $ US 550 million in revenue, representing 6% of Cebu’s GDP. This sector comprises over 1,300 companies, providing employment for approximately 50,000 individuals. Given its significance within the local community, the city hosts a variety of initiatives including the Cebu Heritage Week, Cebu Arts Week and the Cebu Public Library City to support and enhance local cultural industries. Beyond the numbers, the importance and dynamism of design in Cebu is even more compelling. Long a melting pot of local and international talent, Cebu's design scene has more than kept pace with the rapid development of the city. Already in its 4th generation, Cebu's designers have also honed a native yet global aesthetic that respects the past, celebrates the present and anticipates the future.
As a Creative City of Design, Cebu envisages:
- optimizing the creative ecosystem via the Creative Cebu Grid to reinforce the Creative Cebu Portal and Cebu Design Week;
- evolving the Creative Cebu Infrastructure by adaptively upgrading existing spaces and establishing NEWD – The Cebu Newseum of Design;
- promoting international cooperation by bringing Cebu exhibits to UCCN member cities and by hosting events in Cebu;
- supporting underprivileged, talented young Cebuano designers by giving them the opportunity to be involved in events organized by UCCN cities abroad; and
- fostering longer term cross-border learning by launching reciprocal internship programmes in addition to inviting foreign experts for residency programmes in Cebu.