Cultural Cooperation - Spiritual mainstay for 10 ASEAN members

(WVR) - In interview with WVR, Director-General of International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Phuong Hoa affirmed that achievements in ASEAN cultural cooperation have contributed to building the ASEAN Community into a spiritual mainstay for its 10 members and helped to further connect people with people.
Cultural Cooperation - Spiritual mainstay for 10 ASEAN members
Nguyen Phuong Hoa, Director-General of International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (second L) and other members of the ASEAN 2020 Propaganda and Culture Subcommittee. (Photo: WVR)

With regard to the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, as one of the three main pillars of the ASEAN Community, Director-General Hoa stressed that the region's cultural identity has a profound impact on the cultural development of ASEAN. Since its establishment, ASEAN has focused on promoting cultural exchange activities and enhancing cultural understanding among ASEAN members and its external partners.

ASEAN mobilizes various resources, including businesses, international organizations, and the ASEAN Cultural Fund, to maintain and enrich important cultural activities.

ASEAN cultural cooperation has been effectively implemented through various multilateral cooperation mechanisms, such as the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts (AMCA), the ASEAN Senior Officials responsible for Culture and Arts Meeting (SOMCA), ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI), ASEAN Sub-Committee on Culture (SCC), and many other cultural cooperation projects with the effective participation of all ten ASEAN member countries.

“ASEAN countries are striving to build a cohesive Socio-Cultural Community that serves as a destination to attract investment, trade, and tourism and a foundation and driving force for maintaining sustainable socio-economic development in the region,” Hoa said.

In addition to intra-regional cooperation, cooperation between ASEAN and its dialogue partners is also indispensable and highly regarded. Cultural cooperation activities contribute to maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, consolidating and strengthening friendship and cooperative relations among ASEAN countries as well as with dialogue partners, she added.

Regarding the most prominent achievements of ​​ASEAN cultural cooperation, Hoa emphasized the value of its “unity in cultural diversity” community spirit. ASEAN is known as a region with diverse and rich cultures. More than half a century of companionship has really brought together ASEAN member countries, while the initial differences gradually gave way to dialogue, cooperation, understanding and sharing.

The achievements of cultural cooperation contribute to the forging of the ASEAN Community as a mainstay of the 10 member countries, constituting closer ties among the ASEAN peoples.

Together with activities in other fields, ASEAN cultural cooperation has contributed to the development of the ASEAN Community, which is increasingly substantive and closely adheres to priorities of the member countries, the region as well as the world at large, through realizing numerous initiatives in the Master Plan on Culture of Prevention, ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, and Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution for ASEAN.

Over the years, ASEAN has produced positive outcomes from cultural cooperation through the implementation of many large cultural projects, including the ASEAN Art Festival, translation of ASEAN literary works, digitizing ASEAN heritage, and the ASEAN Picture Book to introduce ASEAN cultural diversity.

Cultural Cooperation - Spiritual mainstay for 10 ASEAN members
Art performance for Opening Ceremony at the 36th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi. (Photo: WVR)

Regarding cooperation with dialogue partners, ASEAN has had significant achievements in cooperation with China, Korea and Japan with such projects as digitizing the Hue Monuments, the ASEAN-Korea Music Committee, Asian Traditional Orchestra (has been jointly organized by ASEAN-Korea since 2009), ASEAN-Japan Art and Culture School Cooperation Network, project to make digital archive of cultural heritage in ASEAN-Japan cooperation, the ASEAN-China exhibition CAEXPO with the mission to strengthen the friendship between China and ASEAN, etc.

On Vietnam’s contribution to ASEAN activities, Director-General Hoa reaffirmed that Vietnam has always demonstrated the responsibility of an active member that contributes to common success and development. Moreover, Vietnam has also taken numerous initiatives, and hosted various cultural and artistic activities, as well as regional and international sportive events.

Notably, in 2017, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN's founding, Vietnam organized the ASEAN Art Festival, ASEAN Art and Culture Exhibition, and initiated the ASEAN Film Awards. The ASEAN Music Festival, which has been regularly held in Vietnam draws the attention and active participation of ASEAN art troupes.

In 2020, despite assuming the ASEAN Chairmanship under the difficult and challenging COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam successfully organized the ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020 with strong cultural imprints. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, chaired the ASEAN 2020 Propaganda and Culture Subcommittee, initiated and organized various art programs, prominently the art program at the launching ceremony of the ASEAN Year 2020, Art performances at the 36th and 37th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN Film Week, ASEAN Traditional Costume Exhibition, ASEAN Graphic Painting Exhibition, etc.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in coordination with relevant agencies of other ASEAN member countries, has submitted to the leaders of ASEAN countries for adoption the ASEAN Identity Report and actively promoted the image of ASEAN countries to enhance people’s awareness of the ASEAN identity.

Vietnam has initiated and coordinated with ASEAN member countries to organize various ASEAN cultural and art activities, including the ASEAN Day at EXPO 2020 Dubai, to showcase the ASEAN spirit, identity, solidarity, and friendship to international friends.

In 2022, apart from organizing the ASEAN Cultural Colors Exhibition, the Ministry will host the ASEAN Music Festival in December to provide a playing field for artists from ASEAN member countries to perform after a long-time disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to present new art works to the public audience.

In particular, Vietnam will chair the 57th meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (ASEAN-COCI) scheduled to be held in November in Quang Nam province, which is the host of the 2022 National Tourism Year.

Cultural Cooperation - Spiritual mainstay for 10 ASEAN members
Art performance welcomed the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in Vietnam. (Photo: WVR)

Additionally, Vietnam continues to demonstrate its role and responsibility as coordinator in the relationship between ASEAN and the dialogue partners. Experienced with the coordination of the ASEAN-India cultural cooperation from 2015-2018 and ASEAN-Japan from 2018-2021, Vietnam is playing an active role in coordination of the cultural relations between ASEAN-Korea for the period from 2021-2024, promoting stronger ASEAN-Korea cooperation in cinema and music industries.

However, Madame Hoa pointed out certain limitations in ASEAN cultural cooperation, particularly challenges in sustaining effectiveness, attractiveness and cohesion while avoiding superficial forms.

In reality, the number of ASEAN art programs and cultural products that can be brought to countries outside the region are still scarce and have not received sufficient public attention to be invested.

“ASEAN's cultural industry is still in its infancy. ASEAN small-scale cultural enterprises have yet to create products that are attractive to the mass public of the ASEAN region and competitive in the international market,” she said.

Hence, Director-General Nguyen Phuong Hoa made a number of suggestions to resolve outstanding issues in order to promote ASEAN cultural cooperation in the future. She is of the view that in order to promote effective ASEAN cultural cooperation, its members need to join hands to coordinate and implement synchronously and effectively the following solutions:

First, to raise awareness of the need to promote ASEAN strong cultural cooperation, which can serve as the agent to bind, preserve, and forge the sense of ASEAN community spirit and identity, harmoniously integrate with ASEAN joint efforts to act at national and regional levels for ASEAN sustainable development;

Second, to identify and establish the development path of digital culture in the context of digital society and the digital economy, constantly promote the role and effectiveness of new media platforms, and apply digital transformation in culture and information to create opportunities and leverage for ASEAN break-through development;

Third, to form and connect a network of creative spaces in big cities, creating a spillover effect on the image of livable cities from culture, art, creativity, spreading positive cultural messages in the region;

Fourth, to focus on developing a number of key cultural industries in which ASEAN member countries have strengths, such as cinema, design, cuisine, handicrafts, cultural tourism, etc., in order to form the soft power for each country, creating advantages for socio-economic development of the whole ASEAN region.

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