Life Cycles of Grassroots Cultural Organizations in Asia
CURATED CONFERENCES 2023-4
The Curated Conference program is part of Meeting Point. The next Meeting Point will take place in March 2024, with an in-person gathering in Hanoi from March 21-23. The aim of this program is to create space for diverse cultural practitioners to discuss and explore topics that concern them, and to be able to share the outcomes of their discussions with a wider public audience. There are two topics for this year’s conference program, Life Cycles of Grassroots Cultural Organizations in Asia, curated by Phloeun Prim (Cambodia) and Hitting Pause: Examining Purpose & Practice, curated by Kathy Rowland, Arts Equator (Malaysia/ Singapore). Each group includes five Fellows, who expressed interest in exploring these themes. From June until December 2023, the Fellows meet online approximately once per month, for a series of conversations facilitated by their Curator, starting from the prompt statement shared in the program overview, and evolving with the inputs of the group. During January and February 2024, the Fellows and their Curator will focus on preparing the content and format for the public sharing sessions they will host during the Meeting Point on Art & Social Action in March 2024.
ABOUT THE TOPIC
Grassroots organizations play a vital role in the ecosystem of the arts in Asia. But where do they come from? And what is needed to help them not just survive but thrive? This conference explores the life cycles of grassroots arts organizations in the region, and look at what it takes to sustain them and the people behind them.
Participants to this conference explore the characteristics, the challenges and the needs of organizations as they adapt at different stages. Often organizations begin as a start-up project, driven by passion and aspiration, and fundamentally shaped by the character of the person, or the few individuals, behind the initiative. At some point they transition to becoming something collective, and sharing ownership; to formalising and maybe even institutionalising the work. A later stage will be transitioning from short-term focus on funding and survival, to long-term vision and strategy. Not every organization makes it through all these phases. So those who haven’t or are just beginning can still contribute to the discussion!
This conference reveals experiences from the grassroots in the arts sector in Asia. The conversations and case studies from the participants’ experience uncover common challenges and needs, and shared directions for the future.
Discussion questions include:
● How have the problems we identified at the start of our journey changed?
● Are we focusing on the right things? Or is it time to make some changes to our practice?
● Do the resources we pour into our projects match the impact achieved?
● What is our most valuable skill set? Is it the same skill set we use the most?
● Is being active the same as being effective?
● What are the structures and systems that constrain our progress?
Phloeun is the Executive Director of Living Arts International. He started his career as a co-founder of a vocational training program called ‘Artisans d’Angkor’, teaching young artisans in rural areas to develop skills in traditional handicrafts, and creating a marketplace for their work. In 2010, he became Director of Cambodian Living Arts (CLA). In the last decade he has led the transformation of Cambodian Living Arts into Living Arts International, initiating policy-driven, collaborative and transnational cultural actions, inspired by the resilience of arts communities in post-conflict contexts. MCH and CLA are both initiatives of Living Arts International.
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