The inaugural Asian Arts Media Roundtable was organised by ArtsEquator.com in response to an overlooked crisis in the arts ecosystem: the diminishing public platforms for arts journalism and arts criticism. The two-day event consisted of a closed-door roundtable meeting, and two public events. It was presented under the umbrella of the Singapore International Festival of the Arts 2019. Funders include the Japan Foundation Asia Centre, NAC Singapore and the Asia Europe Foundation.
The meeting, held in Singapore from 24 - 25 May 2019, was attended by 26 participants from 10 Asian countries. Participants included arts journalists, radio producers, critics, reviewers, editors, academics and artists. A range of media forms were represented: print and broadcast media, websites, blogs and podcasts. The program brought, for the first time in Asia, stakeholders from the imperiled arts publishing sector to establish connections, share knowledge, learn from each other, and explore ways to raise awareness in response to the crisis in arts publishing.
Keynotes were delivered by Singaporean critics Clarissa Oon and Japanese critic, Tetsuya Ozaki. Two panels Writing under Pressure, and Critics Live: A Post-Show Response to Displaced Persons' Welcome Dinner were open to members of the public.
For more info: www.artsequator.com/aamr
ArtsEquator.com is website focused on arts and culture in Southeast Asia. It is a non-profit based in Singapore.
The AAMR helped us to gain some insights into the arts media landscape: - There is a real desire and thirst for more support for critical writing and reviewing on public platforms (i.e, not in academic journals). - From this project, we realise that there are many writers and platforms such as magazines, independent websites, blogs, newsletters and other spaces for arts criticism and writing. -Most however are projects driven by enthusiasm and are usually organised on a volunteer/free basis. - Consequently, the burn-out rate is high. Without being paid for their time and work, and seed funding to grow the platform and build sustainability, most of these great platforms do not survive after a few years. -This lack of sustainability results in a great loss of continuity, institutional memory and the stunting of development in the critical voice in the arts ecosystem.
Future prospects and challenges
-Delegates at the AAMR were full of ideas to take the AAMR forward into a network that supports criticism in the region. - however, funding and infrastructure support is necessary so the delegates who take on projects to support the AAMR are funded. - Otherwise, we would be adding to their work load without adequately compensate them for their time.