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Celebrating 50 Years of Collaboration through Culture and Information

Since its establishment in 1978, the Committee on Culture and Information (COCI) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been successful in fulfilling its mandate of promoting effective cooperation in the fields of culture and information to enhance mutual understanding and solidarity among the peoples of ASEAN. The COCI is one of ASEAN’s first and most dynamic sectoral committees that implements an average of 15 projects annually through the ASEAN Cultural Fund.

The achievements of the COCI is captured in this “Images of ASEAN” publication, which showcases activities delivered from 1993 to 2018, including recurring projects such as the “ASEAN Quiz” (since 2002) and the “Best of ASEAN Performance Arts” (since 2008). This publication represents a continuation of a previous publication entitled “The Arts and Media of ASEAN,” which documented the activities of the COCI from its founding until 1992. The COCI’s efforts of recording all their activities serves as useful reference for the ASEAN Community.

“Images of ASEAN” also underscores the increasingly pivotal role of the COCI in advancing people-to-people exchanges in the region, an essential component of ASEAN Community building. I am confident that many of the COCI’s projects will continue to support the ASEAN Culture of Prevention and sustain the impacts of the 2020 Year of ASEAN Identity to further foster a regional sense of belonging among ASEAN peoples. In addition, the culture and information sectors of ASEAN greatly contribute to our vibrant tourism industry by drawing visitors to our region. These sectors also contribute to the development of our creative economies by infusing distinct cultural identity to our products.

I hope readers will be inspired by our rich offerings, and join us in celebrating the shared heritage and identity of our region, as we work collectively towards “One Vision, One Identity, One Community” in ASEAN. (Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General Association of Southeast Asian Nations)


The ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (ASEAN COCI) was set up in October 1978. Its aim is to promote effective cooperation in the fields of culture and information for the purpose of enhancing mutual understanding and solidarity among the peoples of ASEAN as well as in furthering regional development.

To this end, various projects and activities, ranging from an ASEAN Youth Camp to news exchanges among ASEAN media, are conducted each year. There are also workshops and other activities to nurture talent and promote interaction among ASEAN scholars, writers, artists and media practitioners. Activities in the area of culture include the protection, conservation and preservation of cultural heritage, cultural promotion and the production of cultural showcases. More recently, ASEAN cultural officials have been addressing issues such as human resource development in the culture sector and small and medium-sized cultural industries. Activities in the information sector involves implementing communications projects aimed at raising ASEAN awareness and generating a positive perception of ASEAN and updating the skills of media practitioners.

The ASEAN-COCI has two sub-committees, one dealing with culture and the other with information. These sub-committees plan, implement and monitor projects approved and funded by the ASEAN-COCI. At the same time, there is in each ASEAN Member State an ASEAN National COCI that oversees the coordination and implementation of ASEAN-COCI projects and activities. The ASEAN National COCI comprises representatives from the foreign ministries and ministries of culture and information, national radio and television networks, heritage boards, museums, archives and libraries

The ASEAN Festival of Arts is a project that aims to foster a closer relationship among ASEAN member countries and to promote tourism. It is the offshoot of the ASEAN Summit’s call for ASEAN Member States (AMS) to “nurture talent and promote interaction among ASEAN scholars, writers, artists and media practitioners to help preserve and promote ASEAN’s diverse cultural heritage while fostering regional identity as well as cultivating people’s awareness of ASEAN.” It was first held on 12–18 October 2003 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the inaugural meeting of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts (AMCA), and has since been celebrated in conjunction with the AMCA meetings. With the participation of the 10 AMS, the ASEAN Festival of Arts is an avenue to showcase each member country’s finest works in any chosen field of the arts.


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