The 7th ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts (AMCA) Meeting and the AMCA Meetings with Dialogue Partners, including the ASEAN Plus Three, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea concluded yesterday.

This was the first gathering of the culture and arts sector since the establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31 December 2015. The ministers recalled that culture and the arts cooperation is one of the first ASEAN's cooperation mechanisms which has significantly contributed to the ASEAN community building process. Following the adoption of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the ministers agreed that it is important to anchor culture and the arts as enduring factors to further deepen appreciation for the region's diverse culture and traditions, strengthen the sense of belonging and regional identity in the making of a people-centred, people-oriented ASEAN with an increasing role in the global community, especially in the realisation of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

During the meeting, the ministers adopted the Vientiane Declaration on Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Cooperation in ASEAN, and Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on Culture and the Arts to Promote ASEAN's Identity towards a Dynamic and Harmonious ASEAN Community. The ministers also adopted the Strategic Plan for Culture and Arts 2016-2025 to guide ASEAN's cooperation in culture and the arts in the next ten years.

As the sector's tradition, the ASEAN Festival of Arts (AFA) was organised at the sidelines of the AMCA on 24 -26 August. The AFA is the highlight of the cultural set-up in Bandar Seri Begawan City as it became the fourth city in ASEAN which was selected as the ASEAN City of Culture. Artists and performers from all ASEAN Member States and the Plus Three countries participated in the AFA to showcase the region's heritage and traditions, promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, and cultivate long-lasting friendship among the people of ASEAN and Dialogue Partners.

The ministers also exchanged ideas on the preparations to commemorate the 50th Founding Anniversary of ASEAN which falls on 8 August 2017. Further, they noted the earthquake that hit Myanmar on 24 August which severely damaged the archaeological sites in Bagan. The ministers agreed on the need for ASEAN to work on disaster risk reduction measures and preparedness strategy to prevent and minimize losses of lives, cultural property and to join hands in restoration of heritage sites.

The next SOMCA will be held in Brunei Darussalam in 2017, and the next AMCA will be held in Indonesia in 2018.

Source: Association of SouthEast Asian Nation