ArtsEquator: Looking Back, Turning Forward

As ArtsEquator enters its 7th year, we take stock and look forward to a fresh approach to supporting the arts in Southeast Asia in 2023

ArtsEquator celebrated its 6th Anniversary last month, and as is customary, we did a stock take. When most of your work exists in the digital realm, numbers can be gratifying, not only in a bean-counting, hit your KPI (Keeping-Partners-Interested) kind of way. They tell a story of mission, intention and labour. Numbers also offer some proof of the needs and the interests that exist within our regional arts ecosystem. 

Here is a short video with some numbers that sums up what we’ve done in six years:

And here is the tally of what it took to get us there:

  472 tears shed

  7⅓ crises averted

  27,199 comments posted (we see you @socmedearn$$$, @cryptol0rd and your fellow spammers)

  108 uses of the word ‘compelling’

  130,162 typos corrected (we won’t lye, we missed a few)

  1 Santa and 2 elf suits, 3 friendships lost

We can’t put a number, or a value on the good, good, people and many institutions who have worked for and supported ArtsEquator over the past 6 years – as editors, project managers, researchers, web developers, critics, consultants, arts administrators, podcast recorders, producers, artists and creators, digital marketers, moderators, panellists, technical managers, videographers, script writers, grant givers, cultural managers, FOH managers, interns, trustees  and more. 

Because of the thousands of hours worked by all these people, since 2016, ArtsEquator has served Southeast Asia as its pioneer arts media website for developing arts writing and criticism. We’ve advocated for the value of quality critical art content, and helped build the capacity of a network of Southeast Asia critics, reviewers and writers.

Besides being the go-to online arts magazine in the region for reviews, features, interviews, podcasts and the ever popular online quizzes, we also created several initiatives and projects, including our Reviewing Courses, the Critics Live! series,  and a number of critical writing residencies. The  Asian Arts Media Roundtable (AAMR), which we launched in 2019, is a budding network of critics, writers, editors, publishers and content creators that will continue to be the backbone of our future programs. We’ve also conducted research in the region, with a focus on freedom of expression in the arts. 

And we are not done yet.

We want to make the most of the resources, skills and networks we have, to bring about meaningful change in the arts ecosystem. This will mean changes to the way we operate, and the services we provide to the wider arts community, as we renew our focus back to our core mission and develope a new program. But, as we enter our 7th year, we are even more focused on our commitment to developing critical writing in Southeast Asia. 

We’re spending the first quarter of 2023 researching, strategising and developing our new program, and we’ll reveal our future plans in due course. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here are answers to some questions you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why is ArtsEquator changing its model?

After six years advocating for the importance of a high quality and critical art media in the Southeast Asian arts ecosystem, we feel that it is time to advance to the next stage of our mission.

2. Will ArtsEquator continue to commission and publish reviews of shows and other arts content? 

While we won’t be regularly publishing articles on our online platform from January 2023,  that does not mean that we will stop supporting such endeavours. Check back with us in 2023 to see what we will be up to next in our efforts to develop critical art writing in the region.

3. Will you be publishing any content on the website at all? 

We will continue to publish our current series on arts censorship in the region, and occasionally, other arts and culture content. However, the publication of our weekly editorial content will be paused.

4. Can I still get ArtsEquator to come review my show? 

We will not be able to respond to invitations to preview or review during this period.

5. But what will you be doing then? 

We will be researching and developing our new program, building financial sustainability, strengthening the organisation and continuing with our arts censorship research initiative. 

6. Can I still list my upcoming events on ArtsEquator?

Yes! ArtsEquator’s free Events Listing will continue to run. Submit your events here. 

7. Will there be more ArtsEquator podcasts episodes?

We have no immediate plans to record another episode of the podcast at this time. 

8. Will subscribers continue to get the weekly newsletter? 

We won’t be sending out our regular Thursday newsletter for the time being. An occasional newsletter will go out when we upload new content. 

9. What will happen to old contents from the past six years?

The content that we have published will remain active and online. We believe that having an online repository and archive of previously published work is an important aspect in ensuring a historical and digital manifestation of things that happened in the past.

10. Who will run ArtsEquator?

In the immediate future, Kathy Rowland will continue to head ArtsEquator, with the Board of Directors steering the organisation.

11. Who will cover art events in Southeast Asia? 

ArtsEquator is still committed to doing just that, but in a more decentralised way. Watch this space for more information. 

About the author(s)

Kathy Rowland is the Managing Editor of, a registered charity that she co-founded with Jenny Daneels in 2016. The site is dedicated to supporting and promoting arts criticism with a regional perspective in Southeast Asia. Kathy has worked in the arts for over 25 years, working in the areas of critical writing and arts advocacy, with a special interest in media platforms for the arts. She is the Project Lead for ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asian Arts and Culture Censorship Documentation Project, launched in 2021. She has written extensively on censorship of arts and culture in Malaysia. She was a member of the International Programme Advisory Committee of the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture, 2019.

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