Mobility First! – ASEF Cultural Mobility Initiative is the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)‘s travel grant for artists and cultural professionals. Mobility First! supports a wide variety of activity types (workshop/training, conference/forum, festival/biennale, residencies, partnership meetings, research trips, short-term exploration/networking) with particular focus on these areas:
- Skills transfer / knowledge exchange
- Innovation in arts & culture
- Local development
- Art and social issues: the role of art & artists in society
Through these activities and focus areas, Mobility First! contributes to the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly:
SDG #10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
- by facilitating the mobility of artists and cultural professionals (target 10.7)
- by implementing the principle of differential treatment for developing countries, thereby contributing to achieving a balanced flow of cultural works (target 10.a)
SDG #4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning for all
- by increasing the number of both youth and adults who participate in activities to acquire skills needed for employment in the cultural and creative industries (target 4.4)
- by supporting the foundation (e.g. partner meetings/networking) for long-lasting collaboration and learning
SDG #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women
- by integrating gender equality as part of the selection criteria for the Mobility First! grant (target 5.c)
- by increasing the participation of women at leadership programmes in the cultural sector and thereby contributing to equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life (target 5.5)
To commemorate its 20th anniversary in 2017, the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) builds upon its support to cultural mobility over the past 2 decades by launching Mobility First! – ASEF Cultural Mobility Initiative, a new grant that supports the movement of Asian and European artists and cultural professionals in Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) partner countries.
UNESCO reiterates that limited availability and access to funding remains a huge challenge for cultural mobility, and ASEF continues its efforts to narrow this gap through its Mobility First! grant. In its latest Reshaping Cultural Policies report (2nd edition), the only global document on trends in cultural development launched by the new UNESCO Director-General Ms Audrey Azoulay on 14 December 2017, limited funding for cultural mobility has yet again been recognised as a key challenge to international cultural co-operation. However, a positive trend is been observed in mobility opportunities provided through transnational cultural collaborations, with a renewed interest in South-South mobility.
In this context, ASEF’s Mobility First! travel grant has been acknowledged, in its 1st year, as a “success story” by a multilateral intergovernmental organisation to bridge existing gaps in support for artists’ mobility. ASEF’s Mobility First! is funded by 51 Asian and European countries, the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat in the framework of the Asia Europe meeting (ASEM).
In its pilot year, Mobility First! has enabled the participation of a total of 73 artists and cultural practitioners in the ASEM region for a wide range of cultural activities, including from networking and capacity building (training, study visits, partnership meetings) to artwork creation (artists’ and writers’ residencies) to public presentations (festivals, biennales, conferences). An equal number of males and females were supported as well as a balanced selection of fields including film, visual arts, contemporary dance, and theatre. In addition, trainings for museum professionals and different kinds of arts managers, including heritage professionals, were also supported. In terms of mobility routes, Asia-to-Europe and intra-Asia routes were prioritised.
The grant amounts for 2019 are as follows:
- Asia to Europe and vice-versa – SGD 2,000
- Australia/New Zealand to Europe and vice-versa – SGD 2,300
- Russia to Europe and vice-versa – SGD 1,000
- Intra-Asia – SGD 1,000
- Additional funding is available for people with disabilities and special needs