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Mobility First! - ASEF Cultural Mobility Initiative 2018

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
Throughout 2018 Fatima AVILA Culture Department ASEF Cultural Mobility Initiative Culture

Several ASEM countries

The 2018 Mobility First! Call for Applications is now open. 

Please visit the Documents section of this webpage for:

  • The Call for Applications - contains application process, guidelines, application form links, deadlines and other important details
  • Frequently Asked Questions - contains answers to the most frequent queries we receive
  • Cultural Mobility in Asia & Europe - Trends from Mobility First! 2017 and a quick look back at how cultural mobility has become an area of mutual interest among international organisations in the past 5 years 


To commemorate its 20th anniversary in 2017, the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) builds upon its support to cultural mobility over the past 2 decades by launching Mobility First! - ASEF Cultural Mobility Initiative, a new fund that supports the movement of Asian and European artists and cultural professionals in Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) partner countries.

UNESCO reiterates that limited availability and access to funding remains a huge challenge for cultural mobility, and ASEF continues its efforts to narrow this gap through its Mobility First! grant. In its latest Reshaping Cultural Policies report (2nd edition), the only global document on trends in cultural development launched by the new UNESCO Director-General Ms Audrey Azoulay on 14 December 2017, limited funding for cultural mobility has yet again been recognised as a key challenge to international cultural co-operation. However, a positive trend is been observed in mobility opportunities provided through transnational cultural collaborations, with a renewed interest in South-South mobility.

In this context, ASEF's Mobility First! travel fund has been acknowledged, in its 1st year, as a "success story" by an a multilateral intergovernmental organisation to bridge existing gaps in support for artists' mobility. ASEF's Mobility First! is funded by 51 Asian and European countries, the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat in the framework of the Asia Europe meeting (ASEM).

In its pilot year, Mobility First! has enabled the participation of a total of 73 artists and cultural practitioners in the ASEM region for a wide range of cultural activities, including from networking and capacity building (training, study visits, partnership meetings) to artwork creation (artists' and writers' residencies) to public presentations (festivals, biennales, conferences). An equal number of males and females were supported as well as a balanced selection of fields including film, visual arts, contemporary dance, and theatre. In addition, trainings for museum professionals and different kinds of arts managers, including heritage professionals, were also supported. In terms of mobility routes, Asia-to-Europe and intra-Asia routes were prioritised.

 Mobility first launch image