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Southeast Asia is marked by great diversity. Yet there are commonalities of histories – ancient kingdoms, western imperialism, political instability, widening income inequality – which are shared across the regional arts ecosystem. Another common feature is the challenges to freedom of artistic freedom faced by artists and cultural workers.

The lack of reliable data on arts censorship impedes local, regional and international advocacy work to enact changes in legislation protecting the status of the artists in Southeast Asia. The Southeast Asian Arts Censorship Database was launched as a pilot project in 2022 by ArtsEquator in partnership with Five Arts Center to address this gap.

For the pilot, we limited our research to a 12-year period, from 2010 – 2022 in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. While the data is by no means exhaustive, we have successfully begun to fill the knowledge gap through the collection of information from a wide range of sources into one, fully searchable database. The project is still in progress.

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