The ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts (AMCA) and the AMCA Plus Three (AMCA+3) held their Fourth Meeting on 25-26 March 2010 in the Philippines at Clark,Angeles, Pampanga.

The AMCA Meeting was attended by H.E. Pehin Dato Dr. Awang Haji Ahmad Bin Haji Jumat, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Brunei Darussalam; H.E. Samraing Kamsan, Secretary of State, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Cambodia; Mr. Hari Untoro Dradjat, Director-General for History and Archaeology, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Indonesia; H.E. Bouangeun Xaphouvong, Deputy Minister of Information and Culture, Lao PDR; H.E. Dato’ Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim, Minister of Information, Communication and Culture, Malaysia; H.E. Major General Khin Aung Myint, Minister of Culture, Myanmar; H.E. Dr. Vilma L. Labrador, Chairman of the National Commission, for Culture and the Arts (Minister Responsible for Culture and Arts) of the Philippines; H.E. Sam Tan Chin Siong, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, Singapore; H.E. Teera Slukpetch, Minister of Culture, Thailand; H.E. Tran Chien Thang, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Viet Nam; and H.E. Dato Misran Karmain, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

The AMCA Plus Three Meeting was attended by the above Ministers and the Plus Three Leaders; Mr. Xiang Xiaowei, Assistant Director-General, Ministry of Culture , PRC; Mr. Yoshinori Katori, Representative of the Government of Japan for ASEAN, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan; Mr. Kim Yong Ho, Minister, Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Manila.

The Meeting was officially opened by Dr. Vilma L. Labrador, Chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines.  In her opening address, she welcomed all ministers and their delegations to the Meeting and to the Philippines. She noted their commitment to forge a strong regional identity for ASEAN, and pledged that the Philippines will think and act ASEAN, placing the well being, livelihood and welfare of the people at the center of the ASEAN Community building process, including underscoring the importance of incorporating the cultural ingredient in disaster management and emergency response, as well as dynamically applying our wealth of cultural diversity to help achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, reaching out to vulnerable groups with cultural caregiving and free arts education.

The Ministers noted the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter on 15 December 2008, and the ongoing implementation of the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Blueprint, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint and Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan 2, which would be important enablers towards the building of an ASEAN Community (2009-2015).
 
In support of this, the Ministers agreed to enhance ASEAN cooperation in the areas of culture and arts focusing on human resources development; the protection, preservation and promotion of ASEAN cultural heritage; and, the development of small and medium-sized cultural enterprises.

Towards this end, the Ministers endorsed the Work Plans of the Working Groups set up by SOMCA for the three aforementioned areas. The Ministers also noted the projects that the three working groups have prioritized in support of the ASCC Blueprint for 2009-2015.

The Ministers noted that the Best of ASEAN Performing Arts series, proposed by the Secretary-General of ASEAN at the Third Meeting of AMCA aimed to generate awareness about ASEAN cultural heritage is at its half point through the series. The Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN expressed hope that the series could be further enhanced by the full cooperation of the ASEAN Member States.

The Ministers further noted the Best of ASEAN Performing Arts series had been a resounding success and was an excellent example of promoting and inculcating appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of the ASEAN Community. The Ministers recommended that the Best of ASEAN Performing Arts series be developed as a programme for bridging cultures among ASEAN Member States. To this end, the Ministers suggested that this series be expanded to include other aspects of cultures such as theatre, music, art and crafts and be organized as an annual event by Member States on a rotational basis. The Ministers also suggested that the Best of Performing Arts will be extended to include the participation of Plus Three Countries.

At the Fourth Meeting of AMCA+3, the Ministers noted the steady progress achieved in the ASEAN Plus Three collaboration in cultural related areas.  They also noted the decision from the 12th ASEAN Plus Three Summit and the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Second Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation and the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan along with establishment of the ASEAN Plus Three Fund (APTF). China emphasized the need to promote cooperation between ASEAN Plus Three in cultural industries, the development of cultural human resources, and in expediting the formulation of China-ASEAN cultural cooperation programme. In the perspective of realizing a peaceful and prosperous East Asian Community, Japan emphasized three essential areas: people to people exchanges, human resource development, and protection of cultural heritage, in order to promote cooperation on culture and arts in ASEAN Plus Three.

The Ministers recognized culture as being closely linked with ICT, and acknowledged the significance of developing ASEAN local content, preferably in collaboration with the Dialogue Partners.

The Ministers encouraged further involvement of Plus Three Countries with ASEAN Member States through collaborative projects and activities. The ASEAN Ministers welcomed the prospect of an ASEAN Plus Three Work Plan, containing concrete programmes and projects to steer cultural cooperation between the ASEAN Member States and the Plus Three Countries.

Held in conjunction with the Fourth Meeting of AMCA was the Fourth ASEAN Festival of Arts, organised under the patronage of H.E. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the President of the Philippines, witnessed by the ASEAN Plus Three Ministers, the Grand ASEAN Gala Show was aimed at promoting the ASEAN common identity and its visibility as well as celebrating cultural diversity in ASEAN. With the theme “The Best of ASEAN”, the festival embarked on an interesting exchange of ideas between the artists of the ten Member States. Each country showcased what they perceived as their country’s best: plays, exhibits, dance performances, musical shows, films or books. The show involved more than 2,000 artists and performers, school groups, dance troupes, and paintings that manifested the fusion of social concern in their varied artistic presentations.

As we face the global crisis of economic downturn and climate change disasters, arts for all that connects the masses through cultural symbols they understand must be  dynamically applied as a learning tool for capacity and confidence building to protect our bio-cultural diversity, strengthen the spirit and nourish the memory of kinship among ASEAN peoples to triumph over adversity. 

To maintain and preserve our unique and diverse culture amidst the forces of globalization and to fast track our goal to forge one caring, sharing ASEAN Community, the Ministers commits to project, disseminate and develop our unique cultural identity as a creative policy for sustainable tourism by harnessing youth, the resources and expertise of artists in the wise use of media content with the latest forms of communication technology (digital, cinema, broadcast, webcast, podcast, linked portals) to encourage new routes of artistic expression from ancestral roots that communicates in cultural symbols people understand. 

The Philippines, as the Chair of AMCA, launched Clark, Angeles, Pampanga, the host venue for the 4th AMCA meeting, as the inaugural ASEAN City of Culture. The ASEAN City of Culture concept was first discussed and adopted at the Third Meeting of AMCA on 12 January 2008 at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.  The broad objective of the ASEAN City of Culture initiative is to strengthen the ASEAN identity and raise the profile of ASEAN in the region and internationally, to celebrate ASEAN arts and culture and promote the growth of the region’s creative industries, and to promote People to People Engagement e.g. among practitioners, next generation artists, and public, cultivating long-lasting friendship among the people of ASEAN.

The next AMCA and AMCA +3 Meetings are scheduled to be held in 2012 in Singapore.