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As the creative industries continue to grow, so does the number of creative community-building projects. While Brunei’s creative community is still small, it is blooming and drawing people from different walks of life. We believe that so much can grow from our local grounds and we look to community projects from all around ASEAN to draw inspiration.

This is a list of creative community projects from all over South East Asia, one from every ASEAN country, some for destigmatizing social issues, others as platforms to elevate marginalized voices, and others more to revitalize communities.

#1. Cambodia: Khmer Magic Music Bus by The Cambodian Living Arts

The Khmer Magic Music Bus is a 25-seater bus that transports musical virtuosos and their proteges to villages in rural Cambodia. There, in provinces where performing arts are hard to find, they return the art of traditional music performance and education to its people. The project celebrates Cambodian musical heritage and culture.

You can learn more about the Khmer Magic Music Bus on their website.

#2. Indonesia: Nali Tari

Nali Tari is a dance organization for people with disabilities. Through the art of dance, Nali Tari challenges the audience and participants’ perception of art and ability, while promoting inclusivity and equality through and in dance. Most importantly, Nali Tari provides a social environment free from discrimination and social alienation for all its participants.

Learn more about Nali Tari’s mission on their website.

#3 Singapore: Arts for Good Project by Singapore International Foundation

The Arts for Good Projects brings together artists from all walks of life to develop art-based social initiatives. The bigger picture is to foster inclusive communities, enable livelihoods and promote sustainable living. In 2019, a series of music workshops were held for 18 Afghan refugees at the Hope Learning Centre in Cisarua, a mountain near the capital of Jakarta and a temporary haven for about 14,000 refugees. The facilitators from Singapore and Indonesia taught participants basic music skills, facilitated musical storytelling sessions and helped them develop the skill sets to run similar workshops in other marginalized communities in Asia.

Explore more of Singapore International Foundation’s projects here.#4. Thailand: Slum Vacation by Public Delivery, Phil America

Slum Vacation is an art exhibition at Public Delivery that took Phil American more than 30 days to create. The artist moved to Klong Toey, Thailand’s largest marginal settlement area and one of Asia’s largest slums, where he built a house to live in for a month. This house has since been exhibited in various galleries, shedding light on the harsh realities of life in the slums, with an audio and video installation of footages Phil took during his stay.

Read about the full journey and conception of Slum Vacation here.

#5. Malaysia: Rakan Mantin

Mantin, a traditional Hakka Village in Mantin, used to house 200 families. Now, because of urbanization and outmigration, only about 50 families are left. That’s where our next project comes in. Rakan Mantin is an arts and cultural initiative to preserve the village through holding festivals, guided walks, workshops and activities in the village. The group uses its Facebook network to mobilize volunteers and collaborators for projects and activities.

Explore Rakan Mantin’s missions and projects on their Facebook Group.#6. Philippines: The Loom Project

Gabrielle Uy, a 17-year-old Filipino girl possessing a penchant for fashion and a drive to understand the balance between commercialization and preservation, was at the finishing line of Grade 12 with a thesis to write when she founded The Loom Project. It is a non-profit slow fashion brand that works with indigenous weavers in the Philippines to preserve the vanishing art of Filipino weaving.  Gabrielle designs fashion products that would appeal to her generation and works directly with the weavers to make the products. The clothes are ethically made using handwoven textiles and embroidery from local communities. Any money made by selling the products are used to buy and donate more looms to weavers all around the Philippines.

Browse The Loom Project’s products on their website.#7. Brunei: The Brunei Writers

The Brunei Writers is a non-profit community organisation created for writers by writers. Their main aim is to feature upcoming writers in the small writing community of Brunei and bring visibility to the literary arts through unique projects and collaborations. The Brunei Writers provide a space for writers to connect and grow their portfolio with support, love and new opportunities.

Learn more about The Brunei Writers from their Instagram.

#8. Laos: Elevations Laos

Elevations Laos is a non-profit contemporary art initiative aimed at raising the profile of contemporary art and artists in Laos. They encourage mobility, exchange and participation in Laos’s contemporary art scene through annual programming of art exhibitions and various other programs with artists and the public from Southeast Asia and beyond. Elevations Laos also has an art space that is available for students and graduates to peruse.

Explore Elevations Laos here.#9. Vietnam: Zó Project

Like Loom Project from the Phillippines, Zó project is a social business that preserves the craft of making traditional Vietnamese paper,  Dó paper. The paper has historically been known to be extremely durable and resilient with a subtly textured surface. Because of industrialization, the demand for Dó paper has decreased, subsequently causing the art to be forgotten. Zó project designs and makes Dó paper to create job opportunities and income for the papermaking, ethnic minority village in the Northern province of Vietnam.

Explore Zo Project’s paper products on their website.#10. Timor Leste: Arte Moris (The Living Art, in Tentun)

Born in the aftermath of 25 years of Indonesian military occupation in February 2003, Arte Moris is the first Fine Arts School, Cultural Center and Artists’ Association in Timor Leste, the world’s youngest democracy. With one of the highest youth population in the entire world, Arte Moris places an emphasis on helping its young citizens use art as a building block in the psychological and social reconstruction of a country devastated by violence. Arte Moris was awarded the United Nations Human Rights prize in 2003 for its promotion of Freedom of Expression.

Read about Arte Moris here. #11. Myanmar: Doh Eain

Doh Eain is a social, landscaping and design initiative that makes cities more vibrant, inclusive and sustainable places to live, work and enjoy. They received governmental support in 2016 after going viral on social media with a trash alley they converted into a small vegetable garden.

In this way, Doh Eain restores heritage and upgrades public spaces at the same time, maintaining Yangon’s historical and cultural identity. Their work also directly supports a neighbourhood’s socio-economic growth, and contributes to social cohesion, wellbeing and sustainability.

Learn more about Doh Eain’s mission on their website.