ASEAN’s culture and arts sector, under the leadership of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts (AMCA), is committed to the advancement of culture as one of the foundations of the ASEAN Community’s dynamism and of building harmony among the peoples of ASEAN.  It is guided by the ASEAN Strategic Plan for Culture and Arts 2016-2025, which aims to deepen an ASEAN mindset and facilitate intercultural dialogue among the peoples of ASEAN through the engagement of various stakeholders in raising awareness on, and appreciation for, the histories, cultures, arts, traditions and values of the ASEAN region. In addition, the Strategic Plan aims to engender among its peoples a sense of ownership of the preservation and conservation of ASEAN’s cultural heritage and promote the use of culture for creativity, innovation and livelihood-creation. Through the Strategic Plan, culture will also be brought to the fore of building an ASEAN community that is a global partner in the pursuit of inclusive and sustainable development.

The Key Strategies of the Strategic Plan for Culture 2016-2025 are:

  1. Encourage a multi-stakeholder approach in promoting an ASEAN mindset and identity to increase the appreciation for the ASEAN Community’s histories, cultures, arts, traditions and values;
  2. Promote the cultural diversity of ASEAN with emphasis on the long-lasting cultural threads that bind the region to advance intercultural understanding as a counter against violent extremism that may emerge from a lack of understanding of each other’s cultures;
  3. Advance the cultural rights of all the peoples of ASEAN to catalyse the development of the region where people have equal access to cultural properties and where culture is inclusive and helps strengthen sustainable development;
  4. Harness the contribution of the creative industries towards innovations, generating livelihoods and supporting economic development in ASEAN Member States (AMS);
  5. Engage with, and facilitate discussion among policy-makers, professionals, practitioners and institutions concerned with culture and the arts to raise capabilities in cultural and heritage management ; and
  6. Promote the role of culture for ASEAN to become a proactive member of the global community.

The culture sector, particularly through the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (ASEAN COCI), has carried out projects to enhance intercultural understanding. For example, ASEAN’s shared cultural heritage was highlighted at the Workshop on ASEAN Textiles, which focused on the rich artistry of batik-making practised all over the region.  The culture sector also has collaboration on long-standing activities such as the ASEAN City of Culture, and the Best of ASEAN Performing Arts series which are excellent examples of promoting and inculcating appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the ASEAN Community. The culture sector has also consistently endeavoured to develop the youth’s understanding by organising exchanges among young people on traditional cultural expressions, supporting the role of the youth in tangible and intangible heritage management, and promoting collaborative projects in the fields of music and art.