Danqi – gained fresh ideas and insights about her home city

Before undertaking a Master of Cultural Economy (Now Master of Cultural and Creative Industries), Danqi Hu had worked for 6 years in the advertising industry in her home city of Shanghai. Having reached a point in her career where she was looking to do something more meaningful, Danqi chose to extend her understanding of the cultural and creative industries by doing a Monash Arts Masters degree.


Why did you decide to further your studies in Melbourne with a Monash Arts Masters degree?

I had actually travelled to Australia in 2013 for a holiday, as a tourist, and I found Melbourne to be a really attractive city, the culture and art is very different, even from Sydney. It was just the vibe – a bit romantic, a bit artistic … and even the infrastructure: there are a lot of galleries and museums, lots of arts festivals.

What is so interesting for you about this field?

I am interested in the whole construct, how the dynamics and trends of the industry work, it’s like a microcosm of bigger changes in the world. Culture and Art is not just for profit, it also has its intrinsic value, apart from those economic values.

Is it hard to explain this intrinsic value of culture and arts?

For international students like me, especially from from China and other asian countries, ‘cultural and creative industries’ are the next big thing. It’s part of this region’s strategy for growth, and so when people from China hear this term, they do understand about careers in this field.

In today’s world it is very hard to have a stable job, they’re decreasing, in the future you will have to create your own job. Now I’ve got a view of the whole construct, I feel confident, I feel it’s just manageable, I know what’s going on.

You did the Shanghai City Lab, what was that like for you in your home city?

(Shanghai City Lab is a study tour and unit)

It was really good! I thought it might not give me so many insights, but it just changed my whole perspective, it was like being an outsider, having fresh ideas and insights about my city.

In Shanghai we have an area along the river with buildings from the 1920’s and 30’s, all British, so called ‘western modernisation’. Now the Chinese government is building so called ‘Chinese’ modernisation, wanting to surpass the ‘western’ one. In Shanghai we are putting up all these buildings, but gradually we are losing our own identity.

Justin O’Connor really invited us to think about what kind of modernisation we want: does modernisation mean we have to embrace everything western? There is no direct answer to these questions but he (Justin) did inspire me to think about it.

I also travelled back to Shanghai for my Research Project. I talked to artists and did a lot of interviews, and then with Justin’s supervision I wrote my 18,000 word thesis. (Danqi did her Research project on artists and cultural workers in Shanghai, under the supervision of Professor Justin O’Connor)

Are you interested in going back out into industry after your Masters or in pursuing academia?

Actually at the moment I’m working for Justin as an investigator. I don’t know what I will do in the future, I might do a PhD degree. But even if I did go back into a specific industry I think the benefit of what I’ve learnt in this course will be lifelong, because now I can understand the construct, rather than just focusing on the detail.

One of the good parts of this course is that although it’s called a ‘coursework’ degree it does have a lot of research components. Whether you want be a practitioner or an academic, you can have either option open in this course.

Actually it just opens a new world for me. I’ve got many many opportunities. So my problem now is to decide where to go next … it’s a nice problem to have!

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