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Spotlight Shared Asia and Arts: Asian Producer’s Platform VR3 2021-11-30

Shared Asia and Arts: Asian Producer’s Platform VR3

APP VR3 (Reality, Research and Residency) was a virtual research and residency project organized by the Asian Producers’ Platform to deal with the new reality we are faced with from the impact of the pandemic. It took place during the seven months from May to November 2021 under the title of . The research focus was on Asian contemporary topics including; career development for producers; preliminary research to develop a project connecting Asian cities; Disability arts and accessibility in Asia; dramaturgical methodologies in production houses; the role of art in society and politics; and new ways of cooperation in the digital era. As the participating Asian producers dived deeper into the topic, they questioned the following.

1. Ecology: What will be the future of the performing arts?
2. Network: How can we rebuild Asia's connections in a new normal time?
3. New Role of Producers: How can we APP campers move forward to think about the future-oriented producer’s role in the post-pandemic era?
4. Mobility: How can we regenerate a new and different way of international mobility in the post-pandemic/climate change era?
APP campers will take these questions further in the 2022 camp.

동시대의 아시아-아시아 프로튜서 플랫폼 리서치 공유

In addition to the topical research, APP VR3 held two open forums. In last August, the first forum held discussions on creative cooperation between the private sector and the public sector in the performing arts. In November, the second forum took place with the opening session, ‘Understanding of New Zealand Aotearoa cultural context’, followed by the second session focusing on three topics: decolonization, intersectionality and climate crisis. In the second session, three artists shared their experiences, perspectives, work philosophies through their practices while asking questions on upcoming transition and expansion of perspectives in the post COVID-19 era.

The following are the reviews of APP VR3 forum in November.


Rethinking contemporaries: Asian Producers’ Platform Speaker Series

_Wennie Yang

The Asian Producers’ Platform and ArtsEquator are expressing our sadness over the recent passing of theatre artist JK Anicoche. JK was part of the Speaker Series and spoke passionately about
KOMUNIDAD X’s cultural work in the Philippines.

There is a quiet and perhaps stubborn optimism that underlies the work of a producer. Perhaps one could call it an occupational hazard, always seeking new ways to do things. This spirit seemed to drive the most recent Asian Producers’ Platform (APP) open forum, which took place from 11 to 12 November. The forum capped the APP VR3, a virtual research and residency aiming to rethink the future of the performing arts ecosystem and industry.
This article recaps the Speaker Series, which took a deep dive into contemporary concerns in Asia. It comprised three presentations: on decolonisation and the arts by curator Dr. Sadiah Boonstrah; intersectionality by Korean artist Park Younghee; and the cultural and climate crises in the Philippines by artist JK Anicoche.

Decolonisation has gained momentum
Dr. Boonstrah began her talk, Performing Arts and Decolonial Approaches from Southeast Asia, by noting how the discourse of decolonisation has gained momentum across the arts and cultural sector, a result of decades of knowledge production by artists, activists, and historians through various artistic interventions.
Dr. Boonstrah, who is of Indonesian and Dutch descent, shared how through her curatorial practice she learnt that it is easy to get fixated on colonially constructed concepts, such as replacing tradition with modernity when tradition is actually a continuum of heritage and still influences practices today. She suggested that practitioners dispose of the dominating narratives of what ‘contemporary’ artforms should be, and not fall into the fallacy of frameworks and terminologies. This got me thinking about the practice of artspeak, with its connection to notions of ‘modernity’, ‘global standard’ aspirations and the Western-dominated art market, and its resultant inaccessibility to so many.

Embedding intersectionality into protocols is a necessary exercise
This segued nicely into Younghee’s presentation on building safe spaces in theatre. As a practitioner working between Korea and Australia, Younghee cited how the #MeToo movement had prompted reviews of theatre-making protocols in the West, and yet barely registered in Asia.
Younghee shared that safety in Korea is primarily focused on the physical aspect, with policies that are either weakly enforced or not known to practitioners. The patriarchal structures and ‘we are a family’ attitude also means that boundaries are often blurred, leaving certain groups, especially emerging female artists, open to exploitation and harassment. “As a family, it feels wrong to ask for proper compensation and to report misconduct,” Younghee said. There is also a lack of support from legal institutions.
As a first step to creating safe spaces in theatre, Younghee suggested that risk areas be identified through the lens of intersectionality, by taking into account how different aspects of a person’s identity can expose them to various forms of discrimination. She posited that the more overlaps there are in codes and standards addressing these issues, the more inclusive spaces will be.

Climate crisis=cultural crisis=crisis of imagination
Rounding up the Speaker Series was JK Anicoche who shared how the climate crisis is very much linked to the cultural sector in the Philippines. He noted how artists who try to respond to climate change run the risk of being branded as dissidents or terrorists by proponents of the current regime – a practice known as red tagging. He called this a crisis of imagination.
As a possible counter to this, JK shared how performance makers can use their various languages to fluidly connect different disciplines and find allies. “We should broaden the definition rather than give up artmarking [and] allow ourselves to see possibilities in how we shift our resources,” he suggested. Besides generating narratives, artists can focus on direct action such as democratising access to information and enhancing voter education in preparation for the upcoming national election.
How can we regenerate our future? That was the theme of APP VR3 and the three speakers showed how arts and cultural producers can think through new approaches for sustainability and regeneration. With these renewed philosophies and perspectives, we may yet see a new way ahead.

Wennie Yang
Wennie Yang is an arts manager and finance administrator from Toronto, Canada with general management experiences in the not-for-profit arts sectors spanning from Toronto to Singapore. After graduating with a BA in Accounting & Financial Management at the University of Waterloo, she further completed a MA in Arts & Cultural Leadership at LASALLE College of the Arts.
Winnie Yang’s article, Rethinking contemporaries: Asian Producers’ Platform Speaker Series is also posted at(https://artsequator.com/asian-producers-platform


Understanding of New Zealand Aotearoa cultural context

Rosabel Tan

In preparation for the next in-person APP Camp, 2022 in Aotearoa, New Zealand APP campers presented on the New Zealand cultural context.
The first section, presented by Steph Walker, covered the country’s young history, with Māori arriving from 1250 AD and Europeans migrating in the 1800s — leading to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the founding document of New Zealand. The Treaty is widely considered to be problematic for a number of reasons: it was written hastily, translated into te reo Māori (the Māori language) by two European settlers overnight (resulting in two entirely different interpretations of the treaty) and, for more than a hundred years, was largely ignored. This act of violence is sadly something the country are still addressing and grappling with today.
This was expanded upon by Dolina Wehipeihana, who introduced the Māori world, including the importance of tikanga (customs and protocols), whakapapa (genealogy), te taiāo (connection to the environment), and uara (values) like aroha (love), manaakitanga (hospitality), whanaungatanga (relationships) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship). Dolina spoke also about the Māori language revival movement, which forms part of a broader Māori renaissance.
The impact of British colonisation is also evident in our arts ecology, which borrows from the British model of arts funding, which centres around government funding. Presented by Sums Selvarajan, this section identified challenges such as a focus on contestable project-based funding (which is, in fact, not a sustainable long-term approach) and a reliance on unreliable sources like lottery profits.
Finally, Rosabel Tan presented on the Covid-19 response in New Zealand, where an elimination strategy was successfully pursued, and where rapid-response government funding attempted to support the devastating impact this had on the arts sector. New Zealand is now entering a tricky phase of continued uncertainty: with many independent practitioners leaving the sector and with a newly created funding body attempting to find their feet.
Rounding out the conversation, she spoke to the opportunity presented by the pandemic to rethink how we do things. In New Zealand, these conversations have included examining the way bureaucratic structures intrinsically entrench racism and classism, and the strategic priorities that influence who gets funded and who gets forgotten.
It is these ideas that the New Zealand campers hope to gift to those who will be visiting in the next camp — as we enter a new era in history and explore new terrain on old ground.

Rosabel Tan
Rosabel Tan is a creative producer, writer and strategist working in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is the Founding Editor of arts and culture journal The Pantograph Punch and Director of Satellites, a production house working with artists exploring the Asian diaspora experience in Aotearoa.
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