The UK-China Creative Challenge: Co-Designing a Hybrid 'Creature' as an Asset for Shanghai's Performing Arts and Screen Industries

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Culture, Film and Media


In 2010, Shanghai branded and promoted its World Expo through a cuddly little blue mascot called 'Haibo. Today the city's ambitious plans to develop its design, games, performing arts and screen industries provides an opportunity for China and the UK to collaborate on new forms of joint 'resonant character design'. These new entities might be 'spread' across and between physical and digital platforms to attract and entertain children and young audiences in Shanghai and elsewhere.

This pilot project gathers globally prestigious industry partners from Hollywood, China's post-production visual effects sector, British television, and performing arts venues in both countries to collaborate with and guide an international team of researchers charged with a unique task: to co-design the initial concept artwork for a hybrid cross-cultural 'creature'. This cultural 'asset' might be brought to maturity in the future as a storytelling tool for stage, screen, multi-media exhibitions, and immersive exhibition experiences. Under the organisational leadership of the University of Nottingham, Shanghai Jiao Tong, Falmouth and the Communication University of China, the assembled participants will form a high-level 'Character Brain Trust' to explore how the birth of the 'creature' could be used to aid the commercial growth of Shanghai's creative industries.

The longer-term goal is to generate a broad range of cross-cultural characters able to bring to life and symbolise the relationship between the UK and China. Twinned research hubs in Shanghai and Nottingham are planned to investigate prospects for upskilling Chinese workers as well as generating comparative audience research of international excellence.


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