Through its Living Arts Fellows Program for cultural leaders in Cambodia, participation in the Young Cultural Innovators Program of Salzburg Global Seminar and collaboration with networks and platforms around Asia (for example TPAM), Cambodian Living Arts has been growing regional networks of artists and cultural workers in the Mekong Region and other South East Asian countries. In 2017-2018, a project funded by Japan Foundation Asia Center took this work to a new level. As well as supporting the five 2017 Living Arts Fellows to build skills and experiences, whilst expanding their knowledge and networks of 5 other Asian countries, the project allowed Cambodia to host a group of emerging leaders from Laos for an exchange, 75 people to attend talks and workshops on topics relevant to strengthening regional cooperation and a group of Fellows and YCI alumni to share experience and perspectives via the international platform of the International Association of Asia Scholars. The multiplying impact of the cultural changemakers’ leadership and networks has already begun open up opportunities for change within their respective organizations and communities and cooperation with their Asian neighbors. Thanks to support from partners such as Japan Foundation Asia Center, this project to incubate a regional hub for cultural leadership has evolved into the creation of a new organization dedicated to this mission: Mekong Cultural Hub, which opened at the beginning of 2018.
Mekong Cultural Hub ウェブサイト https://mekongculturalhub.org/
The success of the program, namely the professional capacity and cultural leadership development of participants and the newly established links between Southeast Asian cultural professionals, created a desire for even more cultural exchange and have led to the establishment of a regional cultural leadership fellowship program under newly formed organization Mekong Cultural Hub, which already engages people met through the Fellows program and networking trips. The Cultural Leadership Fellowship is co-created by British Council. Several new relationships have already culminated in individual follow-up engagements, collaborations and joint projects based on similar value sets that recognize the important role of arts in sustainable development. We see a great need and interest for more regional exchange of cultural professionals to develop the arts sector, bring about meaningful change in their communities and further improve mutual understanding.