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ASEF Culture at UNESCO

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
Preeti GAONKAR Culture Department Culture


ASEF, the only permanent institution of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), promotes cultural co-operation between Asia and Europe through our projects that are based on fair exchange and reciprocity. UNESCO has recognised ASEF’s support to contemporary creativity in Asia and Europe as good practices, particularly our support to cultural mobility (via Mobility First! – ASEF Cultural Mobility Initiative) and access to information (via Mobility Funding Guides on


Khadija El Bennaoui (2017), “Surviving the paradoxes of mobility”, in UNESCO, Re|Shaping Cultural Policies: Advancing Creativity for Development. 2005 Convention Global Report 2018, Paris: UNESCO

The 2nd Global Report recognises Mobility First! - ASEF Cultural Mobility Initiative as a success story in addressing existing funding gaps to support artists’ mobility in the Asia-Asia and Asia-Europe contexts.

Jordi Baltà Portolés (2017), “Towards more collaborative cultural governance”, in UNESCO, Re|Shaping Cultural Policies: Advancing Creativity for Development. 2005 Convention Global Report 2018, Paris: UNESCO

This article refers to the paper ‘Success, failure and cultural entrepreneurship’, by Anmol Vellani, included in the Enabling Crossovers: Good Practices in the Creative Industries, 2014, Singapore: ASEF.

Mike van Graan and Sophia Sanaan (2015), “Minding the gaps: promoting mobility”, in UNESCO, Re|Shaping Cultural Policies: A Decade Promoting the Diversity of Cultural Expressions for Development. 2005 Convention Global Report 2015, Paris: UNESCO

This article cites the ‘Mobility Funding Guides’ published by ASEF culture360 as an important channel to make available online information on funding sources for the international mobility of artists and cultural operators in Asia, and to provide input to funders on how to fill in the existing funding gaps for international cultural exchange in Asia.

Facilitating Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue

One of the key areas of work for ASEF is facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue between government agencies responsible for culture and civil society. Since 2017, ASEF has also been channelling civil society voices to policy makers at UNESCO through civil society reports and at civil society forums.


In 2019, ASEF has put together two reports, one on digital access to information and one on cultural mobility. The observations on digital access to arts & culture content are the result of over 10 years of activity of ASEF’s arts and culture website - and of a  number of evaluations, interviews and surveys with online users, cultural experts and stakeholders.

ASEF has also put together a civil society report on cultural mobility covering trends, benefits, barriers and recommendations to governments. This report is based on inputs from over 100 artists in Asia and Europe. drawing from the experiences and voices of 175 artists and cultural professionals from over 50 countries in Asia and Europe, who have travelled from Europe to Asia, Asia to Europe or within Asia between 2017-2018 with travel support from the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)’s Mobility First!

These reports have been submitted to UNESCO for discussions at the 7th Conference of Parties (COP7) at UNESCO Headquarters to be held in June 2019.


ASEF was invited to discuss the current situation of Asia-Europe cultural cooperation at the 6th Conference of Parties (COP6) at UNESCO Headquarters (12–15 June 2017, Paris, France). The summary report of the discussions at the 1st Civil Society Forum at COP6 is available in the ‘Documents’ section.

As a follow up to COP6, ASEF facilitated the preparation of a report on trends, issues and challenges in contemporary artistic practice in Asia with inputs from civil society. The report can be accessed in the ‘Documents’ section on this page.

The recommendations that emerged from this report were presented by ASEF at the Intergovernmental Committee Meeting at the UNESCO Headquarters on 15 December 2017 in Paris, France.