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Festivals in South East Asia (2022)


This Report represents an overview of the dynamic and impactful role of festivals across the creative economy of South East Asia. It is commissioned by the British Council and explores how festivals are driving impact across the region, as anchors and catalysts for an inclusive and sustainable creative economy. The report introduces case studies and country overviews from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. It describes the aspirations and development needs of festivals so they are equipped to play a central role in a post-Covid creative economy.

This festival research was commissioned due to a lack of evidence and data to demonstrate the socio-economic impact of the festival sector in the region.

Festivals are catalysts for creative, social, and economic development. Whilst playing an important role in driving local and national creative economies, festivals enable inclusive and sustainable growth for wider societal benefits. In February 2021, we commissioned the festival research as we noted a lack of evidence and data to demonstrate the socio-economic impact of the festival sector in the region. We wanted to learn more about the various festival typologies and the role they play within the sector itself, how they connect with communities, and the contribution the make to a nation’s creative economy.


The report shows how:

  • Festivals connect heritage to the contemporary and they signal opportunities for the future.

  • Festivals are vital platforms for talent development, providing opportunities for artists and creative practitioners to develop their practice, reach and engage audiences and go to the next stage of their creative journey and career.

  • Festivals are generators of cultural narratives and creative content, commissioning and presenting new work from music to fashion, design to film.

  • Festivals are central to the formation of creative enterprises and runways for business development across the multiple value chains of the creative economy. Not only do they showcase talent, but they also provide employment and facilitate growth opportunities for all types of creative enterprise, both directly and via their spill over effects.

  • Festivals often provide safe spaces for diverse creative expression, introducing talent from all backgrounds to the creative economy.

  • Festivals are platforms for innovation, drawing on multiple influences, embracing technology and interfacing with audiences. They are at their hearts spaces for experimentation and boundary-crossing practice.

  • Festivals support local communities, engaging intercultural and intergenerational dialogue, enhancing the quality of place.

  • Festivals offer an urgency, activism and impact-facing agenda, vital for our times.


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