The appreciation for cultural diversity is a fundamental objective of the bi-regional dialogue between Asia and Europe, and calls for different forms of exposure, exchange and creativity. In this regard, ASEF’s Department of Cultural Exchange carries out its work in different areas, ranging from the promotion of cultural dialogue, networking and research opportunities, to the support of artistic exchanges and new creative collaborations. Through its wide range of multilateral programmes, it seeks to fulfil the expectations of the cultural communities of Asia and Europe, while addressing the political priorities of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Culture Minister’s Meetings (ASEM CMMs). ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the 27 European Union member states, 2 European countries, and the European Commission with 20 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat.
- To build sustainable cultural networks between Asia and Europe;
- To promote cultural dialogue on issues of common relevance for the two regions;
- To create opportunities for creative exchanges and mutual exposure for the cultural communities of the ASEM region.
The Department’s multilateral programmes aim at creating better awareness on the role of culture in society and in the context of Asia-Europe relations. To this end, it promotes a wide range of dialogue and exchange opportunities inspired by the social and political priorities of the two regions. In the process of designing its projects and activities, the Department acts as an ‘observatory’ for the latest developments that are taking place across the cultural communities of Asia and Europe, while placing a particular attention on the political agenda of the ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meetings (CMMs).
In terms of formats and outcomes, the Departments’ projects and activities include:
- Promoting cultural networks and/or specific networking activities;
- organising trainings, workshops and experts' meetings;
- compiling specific research, mappings and surveys;
- developing on-line platforms and publications;
- supporting artistic projects and creative collaborations.
The Department’s programmes on cultural dialogue aim to encourage the exchange of knowledge, information and experience on issues related to the role of culture in society. To this end, we gather a variety of stakeholders, including cultural experts, researchers, cultural practitioners, as well as policymakers and public officials.
- culture360.org: a unique online platform that connects the people of Asia and Europe through dialogue on arts and culture. It is designed to stimulate cultural engagement between Asia and Europe and enhance greater understanding between the two regions. It is the only multi-disciplinary online tool focused specifically on Asia and Europe
- Asia-Europe Dialogue on Cultural Policies: a programme that facilitates the analysis of current policies, issues and trends in arts and culture through on-going dialogue and research opportunities.
- Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS): a network close to 100 museum members of Asia and Europe, which promotes dialogue, knowledge sharing and joint activities between museum professionals of the two regions.
- ASEF Creative Networks: a programme based on an annual call for proposals designed to encourage new opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between cultural/artistic networks across Asia and Europe.
- The Asia-Europe Experts’ Meeting on “Heritage, Sustainable Tourism and Urban Living” (Yangon, Myanmar, 2013): A follow-up initiative on the recommendations of the 5th ASEM CMM (Yogyakarta, Indonesia, September 2012).
In addition, the Department’s programme on arts and creativity supports the activities of relevant stakeholders engaged in the arts and cultural sectors of Asia and Europe, through the promotion of artistic exchanges and creative collaborations.
- Creative Encounters: Cultural Partnerships Between Asia and Europe – A programme based on annual calls for proposals, that supports collaborative projects focused on artistic exchanges and creative collaborations.
Recent Research & Publications
Managing Heritage Cities in Asia and Europe: the Role of Public-Private Partnerships
A compilation of 36 case studies from 23 countries in Asia and Europe.
Funding Opportunities for International Cultural Exchange in Asia (2012)
A compilation of 21 guides providing up-to-date information on funding schemes available for cultural professionals in Asia and beyond.
- Ms Anupama SEKHARDeputy Director
- Ms Valentina RICCARDIProject Manager
- Ms Sali SASAKIProject Executive
- Ms Sasiwimon WONGJARINProject Executive
- Ms Preeti GAONKARProject Executive
- Mr Hatta MOKTARAdmin / Project Officer
- Mr Daniel HO ShengIntern
Ms Anupama SEKHARDeputy Director
Anupama Sekhar, an Indian national, joined ASEF in January 2009. She is currently the Deputy Director of the Cultural Exchange Department.
As Deputy Director, she is in charge of the department’s day-to-day operations. She also manages the department’s activities in the field of cultural policy. ASEF aims to stimulate analysis and engagement reflective of current debates on arts and culture in Asia and Europe, as well as demonstrate verifiable alignment with priorities of the Culture Ministers’ Meeting of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). These objectives are realised through the programme, Asia-Europe Dialogue on Cultural Policies, which supports research on arts and culture in ASEM countries (through the WorldCP-International Database of Cultural Policies). It also facilitates dialogue between government officials and civil experts on relevant issues of common interest for Asia and Europe inspired by ASEM’s cultural agenda (through a series of Experts’ Meetings).
Anupama is a member of the U40 group of young cultural policy experts, launched by the German Commission for UNESCO and supported by the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity. She is also a trained dancer in the Indian classical style of Bharatnatyam. Prior to joining ASEF, Anupama worked with the United Nations and in the arts sector in India.
She holds a Master of Art degree in International Studies and a Bachelor of Art degree in English Literature from Stella Maris College, Chennai, India.
Ms Valentina RICCARDIProject Manager
Valentina Riccardi, an Italian national, joined ASEF in January 2009. She is currently Project Manager in the Cultural Exchange Department, where she oversees ASEF’s initiatives related to the development of information platforms, artistic exchanges and cultural networks.
She focuses specifically on ASEF’s arts and culture portal culture360.org, an online platform that provides information and stimulates cultural dialogue between Asia and Europe. She was responsible for the conceptualisation and launch of film.culture360.org, a website dedicated to independent cinema, and the redesigned website of the Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS). She currently oversees the communication activities of the department, with specific focus on culture360.org, the ASEMUS network, the Creative Encounters: Cultural Partnerships between Asia and Europe and ASEF Creative Networks.
Previously, Valentina worked in Rome with Monti & Taft, an organisation focusing on cultural management and heritage-related projects. Prior to entering the cultural sector, she worked in fashion and marketing in Rome and New York.
She was also a contributor to the Asian contemporary art publication Asian Art Now (Chiu M. and Genocchio B., Thames and Hudson 2011).
Valentina holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Sciences from the University of Rome – La Sapienza. She obtained her Master’s degree in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art Singapore – University of Manchester and completed a thesis on the validation system of Indian contemporary art.
Ms Sali SASAKIProject Executive
Sali Sasaki, a French national of Japanese origins, joined ASEF in October 2012. She is currently a Project Executive in the Cultural Exchange Department.
Sali is in charge of communicating and promoting all activities initiated by the Cultural Exchange Department to ASEF’s various stakeholders and partners within the ASEM region. Her main focus is to highlight ASEF’s mission in the field of cultural cooperation via targeted communication strategies.
Before joining ASEF, Sali practiced as a freelance consultant in the field of design and cultural development for various international organisations and public institutions in Asia, Europe, and North America. She formerly worked for UNESCO’s Culture Sector at Paris Headquarters and the UNESCO Office in Bangkok.
Sali holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design, New York, and a Master of Arts in Communication Design from the Royal College of Art, London.
Ms Sasiwimon WONGJARINProject Executive
Sasiwimon Wongjarin, a Thai national, joined ASEF in January 2009. She is currently a Project Executive in the Cultural Exchange Department and works on the Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS), Creative Encounters: the Asia-Europe Cultural Partnerships Initiative and ASEF Creative Networks.
In the framework of ASEMUS, Sasiwimon works closely with the Network’s Secretariat and supports the promotion of the Network in Asia and Europe.
Sasiwimon is presently in charge of the Creative Encounters programme, which promotes artistic collaborations between Asia and Europe. She also manages the ASEF Creative Networks programme, which aims to strengthen cultural networks in Asia and Europe.
Prior to ASEF, Sasiwimon was based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She worked as a Manager for The Land Foundation and as Museum Co-ordinator at the Chiang Mai University Contemporary Art Museum. Sasiwimon received her Bachelor's degree in Fine Art in Education from the School of the Arts and her Master’s in Museology from the Reinwardt Academy, both based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Ms Preeti GAONKARProject Executive
Preeti Gaonkar, an Indian national, joined ASEF in January 2013. She is currently a Project Executive in the Cultural Exchange department.
She focuses on the creation and development of projects that promote research and dialogue on cultural policy between Asia and Europe. The main programme aligned to this area of work at ASEF is the Asia-Europe Dialogue on Cultural Policies, which supports research on arts and culture in ASEM countries (through the WorldCP-International Database of Cultural Policies). It also facilitates dialogue between government officials and civil experts on relevant issues of common interest for Asia and Europe inspired by ASEM’s cultural agenda through a series of Experts’ Meetings, the most recent of which was held in Yangon, Myanmar, in June 2013.
Prior to joining ASEF, she worked with the British Council and in the arts sector in India.
She holds a Master’s degree in Management Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Mumbai University in India.
Mr Hatta MOKTARAdmin / Project Officer
Hatta Moktar, a Singaporean national, joined ASEF in August 2010. He currently works as an Admin/Project Officer in the Cultural Exchange Department.
Although from a marketing background, Hatta has always had a passion for the arts. This blossomed during a three-year stint as a Marketing Executive with the independent Singapore arts centre, The Substation, where he supported local artists in signature events like SeptFest and the Asian Film Symposium.
Hatta holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from the National University of Singapore. He enjoys travelling, eating and running. He hopes to complete a biathlon some day.
Mr Daniel HO ShengIntern
Daniel HO Sheng is a Singaporean national. He joined ASEF in January 2014 as an Intern, assisting the Culture Department in policy projects such as the Asia-Europe Dialogue on Cultural Policies and WorldCP-International Database of Cultural Policies.
Daniel is passionate about international affairs and seeks to promote development and peace through mutual cooperation and understanding. A seasoned youth leader, he has headed several student organisations and initiated numerous collaborative projects in service of marginalised communities.
Daniel enjoys experiencing different societies and cultures, and has forged lasting friendships through exchange programmes in places like Taiwan and the Czech/Slovak Republics. In 2013, he also had the opportunity to live and study in the United States on a university scholarship.
He graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Communication from SUNY Buffalo, and is now completing his MSc in International Relations at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.