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Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia

Podcast 56: Reflections on the 8th World Summit On Arts And Culture, Malaysia

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Duration: 39 min

The 8th World Summit On Arts And Culture took place 11 – 14 March 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Kathy Rowland, Sunitha Janamohanan, Ann Lee and Kai Brennert reflect on the event, in relation to issues of cultural and human rights, the anthropocene, advancements in the digital era, as well as the aftermath and impact of such conferences and summits – and much more.

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Podcast Transcript

Kathy Rowland (KR): Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the ArtsEquator podcast. I’m Kathy Rowland and with me today is Kai Brennert, who is International Partnerships Coordinator at Cambodian Living Arts; Sunitha Janamohanan, who is a researcher and lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts in the arts management program; and Ann Lee, who is a PhD candidate in Southeast Asian studies looking at satire and humour in Southeast Asia. I’ve gathered this group together to talk about the recent 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture that happened in Kuala Lumpur a couple of weeks ago. The title of the program was Mobile Minds: Culture and Knowledge. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I was actually involved in the programming as part of the International Programme Advisory Committee that was put together by the organiser of the World Summit on Arts and Culture — which is the International Federation of Arts Councils and government agencies, IFACA. So today, Ann is going to host and lead the discussion. And we’ll hand over to Ann.

Ann Lee (AL): Thank you, Kathy. Hi Kai, hi Sunitha. Okay, so we were all part of this four day event. To me, this was my first attending such a large scale World Summit. It focused on mobile minds, cultural knowledge and change, in a time – I mean, this is all from the bump of the conference, you know, that we received – “in a time of profound and ongoing transformation”. Now, to what extent Arts Councils and cultural agencies – which is IFACA, obviously – themselves can be expected to lead change and cope with transformation, when some might argue that they are part of the problem that needs change and transformation. To me, that’s not so much the main kind of drive of this discussion, I was more interested – well, anyway, because the notes of the conference point out that, you know, governments, cultural organisations, creative practitioners, citizens, and so on, can and do work together to actively lead change. So there were I think about 400 plus delegates from about 80 over countries.

And at such a large scale event, it seemed to me that there are a number of macro and micro frameworks presented for the conference. Two challenges that I thought were especially interesting: one is the concept of cultural rights, now in its 10th year of existence, as identified by the UN Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights, Karima Bennoune, of American and Algerian ethnicity; and second, challenges represented by the Anthropocene, brought up by Kiley Arroyo, head of Strategic Data and Knowledge. And the Anthropocene there are various steps definitions of it. But let’s say we understand it to be the first sort of geological epoch whereby, I quote, humanity’s imprint is so vast, that the possibility of irreversible global change represents the most significant challenge to our well being on this planet. These are words from Paul Crutzen, Nobel Laureate and the Stockholm Resistance Centre. So in a way, this is not just a more urgent time of transformation and change, but it’s the most urgent time in a way. So I wanted to know from your various perspectives: one, what is your response to the value of the purpose of either of these frameworks, as you understand it for arts and culture today? And second, were there any new creative concepts, facts or figures or, you know, examples of mobile minds, cultural knowledge and change that you found particularly striking?

[pause] So the first question is, you know, what was your response to these two frameworks if indeed you have one in relation to either of them? Let’s start with maybe Kai because you’re the furthest away right now.

Kai Brennert (KB): Thank you very much. Actually, I would like to look at it off by looking at the last World Summit I’d attended at Malta three years back, which was a lot about leadership. Looking very much at how the Arts Councils and arts agencies, federal agencies, want to engage with leadership and it was a lot of talk about leaders empowering other leaders and facilitating – very self referential and self congratulatory at times. And I think what happened at the summit and talking about cultural rights here, I’m actually starting with one of the provocations by Ashkan Fardost, in which he was talking about artificial intelligence and large data companies, the technological shift that is happening is actually creating a challenge to the arts councils and culture agencies, as these technological players are now entering the arena of creating the rules for this creation of meanings. And I feel that these agencies are very much feeling the challenge that is being brought about by these new players in the field.

Interestingly, though, I believe that these cultural agencies should not just be in the business of creating and brokering. There was this meaning creation, creating that culture, but very much ensuring the access and the participation and very much opening yet like protecting those rights for people to exercise culture. So when we’re coming to that, the cultural rights, which I guess we are currently not very good at protecting in the analogue sphere, we now have a new arena that we need to worry about, which is protecting cultural rights in the digital sphere. That’s one of the topics that resonated with me.

AL: Um, can I ask, can you expand on what you understand to mean by cultural rights? I think it’s been around 10 years, as you know, there’re fairly diverse definitions about it.

KB: I think on the one hand, the very, very basic right of people, anybody, to exercise their culture, what they identify as arts, engaged in everything that is in the cultural sphere without being dictated what they should consume, how they should behave, what they should have access to, or not.

AL: Yeah, that’ll do nicely. I now would like to just ask Sunitha, the same question of those two frameworks, that were there, you know, that sort of idea around cultural rights and the Anthropocene. I mean, these are two things which in a way, put a sort of an alarmist kind of some might say, fire in the hole, to really get going on what change might be and under what leadership, taking the point that Kai said that the last conference was a bit more gazing at the navel, this one seemed to be much more broad, expansive. What, if anything, do you do you think about those two frameworks? And was there anything striking about any of the examples of mobile minds that you thought worth sharing?

Sunitha Janamohanan (SJ): Well, unlike Kai, I wasn’t at the last one in Malta, and I haven’t been to any IFACA event. So this was my first experience of it. And I think it’s great that they are looking at bigger issues from what Kai described, if it was more navel gazing. This sounds like a positive step. But I can’t help but feel a little bit – I don’t want to say cynical, but maybe questioning of the relevance specifically in this region. Because I feel that the Anthropocene is a very, it’s a very current thing to be talking about. So and it’s very relevant. There’s no doubt about that. But I do feel that when we look at arts practitioners and people on the ground, who are the makers of culture, the producers of cultural products, I don’t think that people are thinking about those issues as much. I’m not saying that that means they shouldn’t. But I think there’s a slight disconnect, in what is being talked about in a summit like this, and the realities on the ground. I think in this region, there are certain cultural groups, arts practitioners who have greater ecological awareness of their work, who are dealing with these sorts of issues, who are grappling with them. But I think for a lot of people, it’s just sustainability and survival still at quite a basic level. And they’re not thinking necessarily about their impact, the impact of what they’re doing, or what’s happening in the world and how that affects them. So that’s how I feel about the Anthropocene.

On the cultural rights thing I have a lot of thoughts. [laughs] And it goes back to the fact that we don’t have basic human rights still, in a lot of the countries in this region. I’m going to speak obviously, about the region that I know. And my definition of cultural rights is very much a human rights definition. We see the injustices still happening most evidently, when we look at the rights of LGBTQ communities, we look at indigenous peoples’ rights. We have a lot of oppressive laws still, rights not being recognised. So I find it interesting that we talk about cultural rights when across the world, there are so many vast disparities still in terms of how people are recognising and respecting these rights.

AL: I think if I can just say I think the point was made by Fahmi Fadzil who happens to be both an MP in Malaysia, but also an arts and cultural practitioner. He talked about the need to translate cultural rights into the vernacular, you know, that when we talk about human rights, when we talk about cultural rights, this can be very quickly captured into sort of like, “Oh, this is all a Western framework. This doesn’t have an impact on us, in this region. We should we should actually not think about arts and culture in this way.” I’ve a question for both of you, Kai, in your experience with Cambodian Living Arts, do you have that issue – that human rights or cultural rights are seen as a kind of Western import?

KB: From a political perspective? Certainly, yes. But I think it’s also just a very nice concept for people to discredit as an as an imperial concept to really actively not think about it and not acknowledge it. Even though the universal human rights charter might not be exactly what we want. But the human rights as a concept is something that we all need to be adhering to and be valuing. I think it’s, it’s very much at the core of we need to do especially in arts and culture and stand up for it. And by artists that we work with here, it is not necessarily a major theme, that is going through a lot of work, but very much an underlying issue, especially looking at where a lot of Cambodian artists coming from, you know, the catharsis after several years of intense trouble.

AL: Yeah. Which I think is also something that Sunitha, you mentioned about that as well, right? That actually, some of these issues sort of go over people’s heads? I mean, not that people don’t comprehend, but they’re not a priority.

 

 

SJ: I mean, I think if you really sit down and talk to people about cultural rights and human rights, I think people get it. Kai mentioned the the politics and I think it’s the the politicisation of it by our governments by oppressive governments and it’s interesting that you mentioned Fahmi Fadzil because in Malaysia, one of the things he did when he started there was sort of remove himself from the previous regime, as though the new government is going to do any better, but we’re still not seeing it. So it comes down to politics and how culture is used to actually oppress people through whether it’s through the denial of their rights, or by validating certain forms of culture and not others, the list goes on about how it’s used in negative ways.

AL: How would you say, are the priorities then for the communities and parts of artists and cultural workers that you work with in your line of work? What are the priorities? Cultural rights was one of the frameworks in this conference, and I think you mentioned that, you know, well, that’s sort of …

SJ: I think it’s still is — I mean I tend to pay attention to artists who are doing socially engaged work or working a lot with communities. So for those types of artists, I think cultural rights is absolutely central to what they do. But in the field of arts management, the entire field itself is very much based on organisational sustainability. When when our students here in Singapore do research on companies, one of the things that is still always the issue is, how can I get funding? You go to Malaysia, the conversation still doesn’t seem to move on from there, it’s still very much “How can I get funding?” What was – don’t know whether the word is interesting – at IFACA, a lot of the younger artists who had the opportunity to participate in the summit, they were asking questions that were very self serving, it was all about how can I get more support for what I do as an artist? And I’m not saying that they are representative of – we don’t have any kind of figures to support that, we don’t have any evidence of that – but I think it’s still interesting to see that that the composition doesn’t seem to be changing. They’re not talking about the bigger things. They’re not talking about these Anthropocene kinds of issues, they’re talking about how can I get support for what I do?

AL: For you Kai, in terms of Cambodian Living Arts, can you explain a little of what CLA does, and, because it was a group of you at the conference, what did you get out of the conference, specifically for your context?

KB: I want to circle back a little bit to what Sunitha was just talking about: the question of where we are at in the discussion. And yes, of course, the main ideas of like funding, how do we support artists do what they do best is a conversation that we have here all the time, because that is mainly what we do. But the one theme that resonated with me that came out maybe not directly in the main summit, but at the discussions at the fringe, the tours around KL, was the discussion of communities and spaces. I don’t think it was particularly addressed very much in the conference, but a lot of the Malaysian artists I met there were [talking] a lot about about communities and how to build communities around those topics around certain cultural ideas and expressions. And the one question that was talked about during the summit was the idea of digital communities. But I felt very much that there was a strong need for physical communities because so many people are actually living so digital now and are so mobile that they actually need an anchor of sorts.

AL: I think each day also focused on a particular sort of challenge or approach to a disruption – you talked about Ashkan’s presentation, or it was called keynote provocation, you know, not just keynote address, or we’d fall asleep. Can you say a little bit more about what Ashkan spoke about because the the sub-theme of it was creative disruption, being human in the digital age.

KB: I don’t think it was so much a provocation of thinking about being human in the digital age, the provocation for me really came out in how he was addressing albeit subtly, the arts councils and cultural agencies in the room, as I tried to explain before, what I think is he was really trying to challenge the legitimacy and what they do, because with all those new actors in the field, they have competitors maybe now from the private sector that are going and working in their domain of trying to, you know, regulate arts and culture or support arts and culture. So really trying to provoke the regulatory actors in the field and see what are you actually doing? Are you reacting to those new developments on a global scale in the right way? And I think Kristin Danielson from the Arts Council Norway said, yes, we need to be radically honest, we need to be radically curious. We need to be radically open we don’t need to compete for national gain. But is that a result of seeing that overall framework of the digital sphere where those nations not exist anymore? Is that just another way to, you know, get the get the overhand over those challenges that they need to respond to?

AL: Sunitha, you have anything to respond in relation to this ‘being human in the digital age’?

SJ: Well, I have to say that I did not attend the the keynote provocation. So I can’t really comment on that specifically. And I’m also not a big digital person. I think it’s interesting, one of the things that I was thinking when Kai was speaking just now was about the fact that IFACA brought in this person, and also some of the private organisations and people who are coming from non-arts council, non-governmental bodies, to talk about the work they’re doing. And I think this point about whether or not it’s a challenge to them about how they work, I think is quite interesting. Because it also raises the need or the necessity of legitimacy of some of these organisations. And one of the things that was interesting for me was because we had so many of these non-governmental players there that made it interesting to see the conversation that’s happening between them, and the government bodies, but I don’t know what it leads to. So it feels very much like you can bring all these really amazing people together. But what’s happening? We don’t know how governments are reacting to it, or whether any of this has been taken on board and for whose benefit is this?

AL: Yeah, I mean, I think the obviously with so many different countries, 80 over countries represented, there was going to be individual context in which what is taken back depends on how authoritative the people who attended the conference are and what they’re able to share. I wanted to ask, in relation to the the being human in the digital age, I think that was a very interesting area for me, because, like you say, Sunitha, some of the questions that many artists are dealing with on the ground would be much more… because there’s no digital age as such. You have a phone, you have your device which enables you to… it’s not a digital thing. It’s already a reality, if you like. And some of the priorities of human cultural rights are what, you know, what are focused on on the ground, in separate ways.

But in relation to the technology, because I think some of that combines both dance performance and human rights, how can the convergence of these technologies, how are they going to impact future presentation, for example, of arts and culture? And I think one of the areas that I found interesting was, it was just how much representatives from Africa talked around some of the really profound changes that are going to impact them: realities such as that’s around 700 million, slightly more than the whole of Southeast Asia — I think we’re about 500 or 600 million now — but the average age is 18 there. And so how we think about being able to sort of convey issues around arts and culture and cultural rights is, what will people be using as their technologies of presentation or the artworks that they create it.

In relation to Ashkan, I thought that some of the sort of micro presentations that were there as well really serve to sort of counterpoint or amplify in a way small initiatives being done for very much larger umbrella topic. So I would just like to highlight that for me, for example, Taeyoon Choi from South Korea, and the USA. He’s an artist and co founder of the School of Poetic Computation. And he made this wonderful presentation that was so simple illustration, but served to really kind of

not only illustrate from his point of view, what you know, what he’s working on, but also, he took issue somewhat with Ashkan’s digital determinism, this idea that we’re all you know, we’re all going to be overwhelmed by digital technology. And that the idea of artificial intelligence, for example, is going to overwhelm us.

Now, Kai, you and I were in the same workshop around these three horizons? Precisely what Sunitha brings up about “what happens to this”, we were told that as a result of that workshop, some of the ideas will be put together, and then shared. I believe that that is going to be the case. But so far, we’re, you know, two weeks after the conference, I think, and nothing has come so far. In your experience with the Malta conference. Did you feel there was any kind of continuity? I mean, a lot of discussion, a lot of excitement, a lot of inspiration, but then what happened?

KB: I would like to believe that conversations took place among the members of the arts councils, and to their board meetings and everything. I know, there’s been a bit of a conversation afterwards. So I know Kathy has written a piece, I had written a piece, several other people have written reflections, and there was a little bit of a follow up. But the whole leadership discussion that was going on, in Malta I think kind of faded away the because like I said was very, like organisations and people were congratulating each other how great their non-hierarchical leadership is organised these days, which we may agree with or not.

But I think this one conversation we have right now, it’s precisely because it is about the digital question might have a lot more opportunities for us to keep talking about. What Taeyoon said – Taeyoon Choi from the School for Poetic Computation – is, I think, a really, really interesting idea for us to really deconstruct and understand what does digital actually mean? How are we making meaning of one of those mechanisms that can also create meaning, either by itself through artificial intelligence, or for people have the resources to feed in algorithms that might influence us how to we want to proceed things?

SJ: Can I just jump right in? In response to what Kai and you raised about, you know, what happens afterwards. And the fact that we’re supposed to see some kind of compilation of what people talked about, and presumably some sort of steps forward, which we don’t often see. I mean, there is just the usual sort of conference fatigue that happens that people come, you’re inspired, then you leave, and you go back to work. And you just, you know, you forget about it, until the next holiday. But I think one of the sessions that I attended that I really appreciate it was about citizen rights and civic agency. And that was a long table.

AL: Sorry, can you just describe this long table? What is that?

SJ: I don’t remember everybody’s names, but we had a person from Croatia, from the Canada arts council, and from Peru, but some of the words that were coming up were transparency, accountability, and we’re talking about cultural rights, we’re talking about things like cultural democracy, these are all government civic bodies. And I think we should be practicing — we should be demonstrating transparency and accountability. The fact that you say you’re not sure — presumably some conversations are happening between the government and the arts councils, but is it going to mean anything? We don’t know. And that’s because there is no transparency, we have no idea what sorts of conversations are happening. And I think it’s there’s a little bit of irony that we can come together and we can all be very intellectual about it and sit and listen to very inspiring people. The one who was most inspiring to me was not a government person, his name is Mauricio Delfín from Peru. I would massacre the name of his organization, because it’s in Spanish. He was on this panel with somebody called Dea Vidović which from Croatia – who is the director of the Kultura Nova Foundation – and the director of the arts council, I think from Canade. Yeah, and the name of the panel was Cultural Citizenship: The governance of culture. So it was very much talking about how citizens need to be involved in this process, that it’s not just what the government does, and the ideas of community participation, all of these very good things we talked about.

But yet, we’re not seeing it demonstrated, I feel, sufficiently, at the governance level. I’m sure in some countries that is happening.

AL: You’re talking about Southeast Asia now…?

SJ: Southeast Asia, well, also there are other repressive areas of the world. One of the reasons why Peru is inspiring because we see in Latin America, a lot of examples of very grassroots revolutionary action. I think that sort of civil society action. This sort of civil society engagement that we see in in certain continents is not as developed here. For sure. I’m not saying that there is still isn’t a lack of transparency and governments in those parts of the world. That’s precisely why people are acting and responding and holding governments accountable. But I think we’re a long way away. We are a long way away from that. And IFACA is not leading by example.

AL: Is that because they cannot be more kind of European based or…?

SJ: I don’t know whether it’s just the bureaucracy.

AL: Okay. Kai would you like to add this?

KB: Yes. Very interesting. The open open governance projects that Mauricio is leading in Peru, I was also very, very inspired. But then, looking back at what we’re doing here is first step, so what we’re having is a monthly recorded cultural Task Force. And obviously, Cambodia being very small and very Phnom Penh-centered in its arts community, there’s a monthly meeting of all the cultural actors that want to be part of that conversation. UNESCO is usually offering their premises so the conversation can take place somewhat of a safe space.

And if people want a representative from the Ministry of Culture is invited, and what has happened over the past weeks and months is that actually policy proposals have been written and have been discussed with representatives from the Ministry, especially around tax waivers for cultural organisations about how to support the film sector in Cambodia.

And I hope that this might be a starting point for us to think more how can we have more of those discussions. How can we get more together and work more collaboratively, maybe radically collaboratively to really bring that open governance idea forward, and maybe also, in one way start responding to those ideas or those challenges that the era of the Anthropocene is now presenting to us. Questions of sustainability.

 

 

AL: Just on the, in the area of cultural rights, I was struck by how the language the translation that we had at the conference — it was available in French, and Spanish. And I wanted in future, for example — I think this was the second time in 10 years or so that the conference, the summit, was held within Southeast Asia, the last time was Singapore in 2003, I think. So you have all these members of IFACA, who are largely government representatives, and depending, of course, on each country, and whatever is the political situation in that country, and the commitment and, you know, we know that talking about leadership, also, the people who came who are representatives of those cultural agencies, by the time come round for the next summit, maybe they’re not there.

Even so, in the area of cultural rights, I wonder how important either of you think it is to be able to use languages that are more representative? Because presumably, the French and Spanish is to reflect, in the European context, which are the other languages apart from English. But this was held in Southeast Asia.

What is your experience of going to conferences? Or in fact, I mean, any events where within Southeast Asia if it’s not English, who is paying for the translation? What other languages are spoken? So that people you know, I mean, we know language is very important to express. So other than English, what was what is your experience? Because I think this was maybe a missed opportunity to be able to introduce other languages. Because I mean, it was held in Malaysia.

SJ: At the very least we could have done Malay translation.

AL: Yeah, because English is not going to be is not the only language, although Malaysians go through paroxysms whenever a Malaysian a in speaks at the UN or whatever, and we expect them to speak in English. And there’s many people that do. But how much experience do you have about how this issue of languages within Southeast Asia, how do we communicate other than to use English?

KB: Cambodia, obviously, the main language of communication is Khmer, the other two languages that are usually been being brought up in public forums are English and French as a colonial legacy very much.

Increasingly, though, you have a lot of young people who are refusing to use Khmer in a professional capacity, and they’re more than happy to use English. Because apparently, the vocabulary for certain technical areas is is much more developed than in Khmer and I don’t know if that’s a good direction, probably not. But it’s a reality that we have to face.

And then I feel it might also be a bit paternalistic to say, “Oh, no, we have to have that conversation in that language rather than allowing people to choose the language they would want to have it in. And that probably was not the case with the IFACA conversation, because people did not have a choice to select any other language than English, Spanish or French, when they’re signing up. The language of the material beforehand was not available in any other than those three official languages. Definitely something to think about. And maybe not just spoken languages, but also other accessible languages, such as certain countries’ sign languages. Or using the new opportunities that the digital age brings us of instant translation. I mean, there was already live streams of certain of certain sessions. If there is an algorithm that is just, you know, writing down everything that’s being said, and instantly translated into other languages, even though it might not be perfect, because it’s a computer doing it, it’s still opens the space for people who want to participate in it.

SJ: That would be great if we had that kind of technology. I don’t have an answer to your question. But it is something that I’ve been thinking about increasingly.

I think when it comes to the sciences, and technical fields, English is the dominant international language. So I can totally understand why young people in Cambodia want to speak in English, they feel the need to speak English and for many people around the world, if you don’t speak English well, you don’t get ahead at an international level. So there’s that issue there.

But I think when we talk about culture, and especially coming from a country like Malaysia, or in Singapore, where we are where there are major languages spoken other than English, I think it’s problematic that we assume human these international platforms that there is a certain level of proficiency of English for everyone who participates. I am guilty of organising forums and have been criticised for it, for only doing it in English.

But it’s very hard to get the resources to provide simultaneous translation in Bahasa (as the national language of Malaysia where we’re from). That’s not readily available. And I mean, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. I think it’s really telling that the government that is hosting this, that has had a large number of its staff participate in the format all levels, so we had junior and senior level staff who are going to have… maybe not everyone is going to have a very sophisticated command of English. Yet, there was not even an effort to print material in Bahasa. So they can’t even read – not the program – but there was this other…

AL: The discussion papers.

SJ: Yeah. So it’s, I mean, I can understand simultaneous translation is very hard, although that existed in French and Spanish. But they’re not even translating the discussion papers. So when is that critical engagement going to happen, when there isn’t an effort made to use a language that is going to be accessible to more people, or to use languages that will be more accessible.

AL: Okay, well, I’m afraid we’ve run out of time, I just want to ask each of you to say any last words around what was your personal advantage of benefit of participating in the conference, in the summit.

KB: I think as is the case with so many conferences, the greatest benefit out of everything that happened is at the fringes of the conference, because the theme was there and brought all the right people together. But the important discussions happened in the coffee breaks, the important discussions happened at the three horizons table, even though initially very critical of the methodology, but I’ve connected with with partners in the region, and that’s what I’m very grateful for, and had those important discussions about space that I mentioned earlier. Space and community really.

AL: Thanks Kai. Sunitha?

SJ: I think these these types of events are great for networking, you meet people who – I don’t know if they’re the right people – but you do meet a lot of really important people to your work. And what was really great for me, personally, I felt, was that rarely do we have the opportunity to meet people from Africa, and Latin America, very far away from us. We have so much to learn more from the speakers in Kenya than we do from a speaker in Norway, that’s for sure. But we don’t often get those opportunities. So I think that was really quite a nice thing to happen.

AL: Yeah, I would agree. I really felt it was such an eye opener. And even though some of the conversations were, I did feel, kind of quite intellectually all about governance, which was sort of not really kind of my priorities. Nevertheless, the full four days it was, it was, you know, intense in a way that was quite inspiring.

So I want to thank thank you, Sunitha, thank you Kai for joining us in this podcast on Mobile Minds: Culture, Knowledge and Change, the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture, which was held in Kuala Lumpur from the 11th of 14th March. Thank you.

 

 

For more pictures from the World Summit on Arts and Culture in Malaysia, click here.


Podcast Guest Sunitha Janamohanan has been working in the arts in Malaysia since 1999 and has been an arts manager, producer, curator, and heritage manager. Since 2015, she has been teaching in the Programme in Arts Management at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. Her research interests include regional community or socially engaged arts practice, and how cultural policy is implemented – or not.

Podcast Guest Ann Lee has been writing in mainstream and online media about the arts in Malaysia and Southeast Asia for over 25 years. Former artistic director of Kuali Works, she is an award-winning playwright and sometime performer and director. Her latest play ‘Tarap Man’ is published in ‘Southeast Asian Plays’ (Aurora Metro, 2016). She is also currently pursuing a PhD in Southeast Asian studies at the National University of Singapore.

Podcast Guest Kai Brennert is the International Partnerships Coordinator at Cambodia Living Arts.

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