Last August I got an email from the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan, inviting me to join the newly established Southeast Asia Advisory Committee. Aim of the Committee (composed of Taiwanese citizens and representatives of different Southeast Asian countries) is to strengthen and deepen cultural exchanges between the island and the tropical countries further south.
I was invited to take part in it in order to advise about Myanmar.
What an exciting opportunity to be involved in such an ambitious project!
The first meeting of the Commitee was held in October 2015. The 7 members from Taiwan met with the 10 representatives from Southeast Asia for a week. A mix of strategic meetings and trips on the island, visiting different cultural venues, from formal museums to informal workshops in private houses.
A second meeting happened in April and unfortunately at the same time I was hosting Dr. Thant Myint-U in Italy, for a promotional tour of the Italian edition of his book Where China Meets India. Burma And the Crossroads of Asia. Being Myanmar so under-represented in international occasions, I was very frustrated not to be able to join this second and more straight-to-the-point meeting. My colleagues created and excellent document with guidelines addressed to the Ministry of Culture, which is taking into account our suggestions.
Great professionals with many years of experience and a genuine involvement at the grassroots level of their cultural work are the members of the Committee, as you can see from the list (I really recommend to google their names and organisations if you don’t know them already):
Chung, Chiao, Founder of Assignment Theatre Group
Chang, Cheng, Founder of 4-Way Voice and owner of Brilliant Time: Southeast Asian-Themed Bookstore
Chung, She-fong, Founder of Trees Music and Art
Kuan, Cheng-Neng, Vice-President of Shih Chien University
Shiu, Margaret, Founder of Bamboo Curtain Studio
Takamori, Nobuo, Curator and founder of Outsiders Factory
LAOS: Carol Cassidy, Founder of Lao Textiles and Misouda Heuangsoukkhoun, Legal Advisor for the Lao Disabled People Association and a manager of Lao Gallery
PHILIPPINES: Consuelo V. Zapata, Chief of Cultural Management Division, Arts Education Department, Cultural Center of the Philippines
MALAYSIA: Goh Hin San, President, Malaysia Han Culture Center
INDONESIA: Marco Kusumawijaya, Founder & Director of RUJAK Center for Urban Studies
BRUNEI: Nur Khalisah Ahmad, Director at Kaleidoscope Studio
CAMBODIA: Phloeun Prim, Executive Director at Cambodian Living Arts
THAILAND: Thanom Chapakdee, Art Critic / Faculty of Fine Arts, Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand
The overview is provided by the invaluable member Philippe Peycam, Director of the International Institute for Asian Studies
Hoping that the Committee’s work will sustain effectively new initiatives all over Southeast Asia and Taiwan, I look forward to meet everybody again!