As part of the new series “Recalibrating the Compass: What Future for Asia-Europe Cultural Relations?”, ASEF Culture organised its first closed door roundtable with a focus on the current state of artists and arts organisations in the cultural and creative ecosystem on 25 May 2022.
Key Highlights from the Roundtable
The common transversal themes that emerged in the context of Asia-Europe cultural cooperation revolved around sustainability, diversity and collaboration.
Pivoting towards the digital world
- The pandemic forced all physical activities to be paused for an uncertain period. In the immediate response to tackle such an unprecedented pause, digital means were explored. This allowed for continued creation of work, reaching newer audiences.
- Some of the pre-pandemic hurdles caused by limited access to travel for several arts communities diminished in the online space. More avenues were created for wider cultural voices to be heard.
- The pivot to the digital world brought up a divide which was previously unseen or less experienced. Issues of language, disability, gender and economic access in the tech space requires urgent attention. Greater access to online platforms in a safe and inclusive environment, keeping these issues in mind would enable more meaningful exchange.
Digital divide & access
- The digital divide has affected many under-privileged arts communities. More training should be provided to access digital tools for artists and practitioners. This is particularly important for older generations who have been left out of many opportunities because of lack of basic training.
- The move to digital activities as a result of the pandemic has created more opportunities for artists’ voices to be heard, including artists with disabilities who have been able to access and create online without the physical limitations imposed by travel.
- The online space has also provided more peer-to-peer exchanges in a safer environment, particularly for less privileged arts communities for whom travel was not possible.
- Gender equality is one of the main areas of concern that should be better addressed by the cultural sector.
Newer forms of exchange
- Hybrid activities involving online and onsite exchanges should be prioritised by arts organisations to provide more options for artists to collaborate.
- Online spaces provide more opportunities for training and exchanges. However, there is a risk in automating online training and relying on new technologies such as VR and AI. The human element should always be considered.
- Language interpretation and translation are an important tool to when developing collaborations. Digital collaborations can provide new ways to reduce language barriers.
Continued cooperation in a changing world
- As new communities are being engaged, newer, diverse, and inclusive conversations are needed.
- Institutions in the cultural sector should reassess their role in cooperation, move from gate keeping to enabling artists to artists and organisations to organisations exchanges.
- Building greater trust between individual artists and institutions would offer more sustainable avenues for cooperation.
Relooking the concept of cultural mobility
- Reformulating cultural mobility such that deeper, longer and more meaningful exchanges through hybrid forms of residencies or fellowships between practitioners are created.
- Culture should be formally recognised as central to the SDGs. Cultural actors are often not linking their practices to the SDGs because culture is not recognised in this context.
Check out the link below for the comprehensive report of the first roundtable.