The Mekong Mapping Project: Background and approach
We initiated the Mekong Mapping Project as the first activity of MCH because we wanted to start the program by connecting and learning from our stakeholders in the region. We also knew from our own experience, that finding and connecting with artists and cultural workers in the Mekong Region, especially if wishing to reach outside the ‘usual suspects’ is not always easy.
Therefore we hoped that a project which could serve the dual goals of: 1. Learning about the current situation regarding regional exchange and collaboration in the region, including interests, priorities, and constraints of cultural actors in the Mekong Region
2. Creating a database, with contact information and profiles for 150-200 artists and cultural workers in the region who are interested in regional collaboration and exchange Would not only be of use to ourselves, but also be a helpful output for partners and networks outside of the region, who are seeking collaboration and partnership with the Mekong countries.
Methodology: The importance of networks
In some of our target countries, many artists and administrators do not use email as their primary means of communication and may not be comfortable working online
People are unlikely to respond to an institutional or anonymous survey
We wanted to target people who would fit the profile that MCH seeks to work with and for (i.e. interested in regional collaboration and having a vision of their work that sees arts playing a meaningful role is social and sustainable development)
We would need additional support to interpret and analyze the survey results We decided to gather the survey responses through a network of “Peer Advisors” based across our five target countries.
Using our existing networks, we invited the 9 creative arts professionals1 shown below to work with us to gather survey responses from 20 people of their networks, and to participate in a workshop to discuss the findings and develop recommendations for actions based on the results of the survey.