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Asia Europe Foundation

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In a heartbeat

The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) was set up to promote multicultural cooperation between the arts community across Asia and Europe. ASEF’s online portal is an excellent resource for the ambitious artist; listing grants, residencies and competitions.

Who it’s for

In addition to opportunities for those willing and able to travel, ASEF’s portal, culture360.asef.org has enough stories, interviews and information to broaden your ideas and horizons from the comfort of home or discomfort a crowded train on your way to rehearsal.

How to use it

This site is great for browsing so jump right in. The navigation is limited as is the search function so buried treasures such as first person accounts of what it’s like to do a residency in Japan, will only be found by the lucky and persistent, In addition, their opportunities pages only have one filter – by country. Don’t despair if you only see a few listings for Malaysia – click on the “International’ tag on the right and start your happy hunt.

A closer examination


Description taken from the Borak Arts Series 2015 documentation. For the full event case study, click here.

The Asia-Europe Foundation(ASEF) was set up in 1997 by governments of 51 different countries from Asia and Europe, including ASEAN. The purpose of the foundation is to promote multicultural cooperation between the arts community across Asia and Europe. The foundation receives funds from the governments, and translate them into programmes that will reach out to the arts community.

Since the founding of ASEF, ASEAN has been an important partner of the foundation. ASEF works directly with all the countries in the ASEAN region, as well as with the ASEAN secretariat. Each of the ASEAN countries has sent a special representative to sit on the board of ASEF.

ASEF’s work revolves around three key areas:

  1. Information

It is often difficult for artists to find relevant information to support their work, such as information on funding opportunities and contact details. To assist in this area, ASEF has set up an online arts portal called Culture360 which streamlines the latest arts-related information, news, events, and opportunities across Asia and Europe. There is also a country section that filters information based on the country selected, and a mobility funding guide which is updated yearly.

Beyond those information, Culture360 has many other resources such as directory of key cultural organisations in various countries, monthly newsletter, and curated articles about current events, trends, and issues.

  1. Supporting artistic collaboration and cultural network

This is conducted through an annual open grant for art programmes, creative encounters, and cultural partnership between Asia and Europe artists. In November for example, ASEF will be supporting an exchange of arts professionals between Europe and Asia, which will be take place in Thailand for a month. As the process is highly competitive, approximately 5-6 proposals are approved each year.

Cultural and arts networks are increasingly important for international collaboration, but financial support for such networks is hard to come by. To this end, ASEF has been giving small grants to cultural networks in Asia and Europe and work closely with them together. For example, ASEF have been supporting the Asia-Europe Museum network since 2000. The network now has over 100 members across 40 countries, and every two years, the network organizes a general conference which brings together museum directors, curators, educators, and historians.

  1. Policy Advocacy

As a government-funded body, ASEF attempts to channel ideas and views of the arts community to the Culture Ministers within ASEF. Every two years, Culture Ministers of Europe and Asia meet to discuss issues of common interest, and ASEF uses such platform to bring the voice of artists into the policy debate.

Annually, ASEF organises a public forum on a selected area of interest concerning both regions. In 2015, the topic of the forum was on Creative Cities in Asia and Europe. The purpose of the programme was to collect case studies, best practices, and policy ideas that would then be channelled to the governments.

ASEF also collaborated with WorldCP in building an international database of cultural policies of different countries. The database is accessible at www.worldcp.org. Additionally, ASEF collaborates with governments to commission a report containing information on the arts and culture industry of that specific country. Topic in the report include, among others: history of cultural policy making, brief overview on laws, copyrights, and financing. For the ASEAN region, there is presently a report on Vietnam, while work in in progress to publish a report on the Philippines and Cambodia.

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Amy De Kanter
Amy De Kanter

Former Chief Editor, frequent contributor and enthusiastic audience member, Amy is thrilled to have a job that lets her do three of the things she loves most.