Mekong Cultural Hub (MCH) was established in 2018 to addresses a systemic lack of connectivity among artists and cultural practitioners in Southeast Asia and the Mekong Region by working with people whose own work is at the intersection of arts and society. The priorities of the hub were established after an initial mapping project had identified that individual cultural practitioners, artists, and arts organizations in the Mekong Region share many of the same interests, priorities, challenges and constraints. These challenges range from a lack of resources, threats to sustainability and the environment, sensitive social and political contexts, limited access to in-country training and development, and few opportunities to exchange knowledge and collaborate with peers from neighboring countries.
MCH set out to initiate projects and work on collaborations all around Asia. Whereas the priority focus countries are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, cultural practitioners from other parts of Southeast Asia, East Asia and South Asia have participated in one or more of the initiatives MCH has organized in its first five years. Since its foundation MCH has connected more than 150 practitioners from the region for professional exchange, co-creation and collaboration. MCH is a sister organisation of Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), which has been working in Cambodia since 1998. Both CLA and MCH are part of the Living Arts International (LAI) family. LAI is a non- profit organisation whose vision is for a peaceful, sustainable future with living arts as a catalyst for change. MCH, CLA and LAI share the belief that arts are at the heart of a vital society, and this spirit is reflected throughout our programs. MCH grew out of CLA’s Living Arts Fellows program and CLA’s involvement in the Young Cultural Innovators program of Salzburg Global Seminar.
Toni Attard, Director of Culture Venture, was entrusted to lead and co-author a paper presenting the main themes that emerged from research conducted in 2022 with fellows, alumni, mentors, and partners. The aim of the research was to assess the MCH network as it approaches the end of its fifth year of development. The themes reflect on MCH’s goal to develop and connect resources and experiences from across the region, and build bridges and create spaces for reflection and innovation so emerging artists and arts leaders can collectively create, influence, and transform the contexts in which they are living and working.