Arts and Culture
Festivals, beyond their traditional role as expressions and meeting spaces within local communities, have often been used by governments as a political instrument. From the perspective of cultural diplomacy, festivals are efficient showcases for sharing both national artistic pride and openness towards cultural diversity, as well as instruments for reducing political tension or for establishing international relationships. On occasion, they are used as tools to support the vision shared by the members of multilateral cooperation organisations. This article investigates the role and orientation of arts and cultural festivals organised between in the last fifty years in the ASEAN+3 (APT) geopolitical context, a complex period that witnessed the ongoing increase in number and complexity of international cooperation frameworks. As this article will unveil, economic, political, diplomatic and organisational logic explain the evolution of the number, type, geographical scope and format of the festivals curated in the region. This happens equally when the festivals are organised under the direct umbrella of the ASEAN as when they use its trademark to gather artists from the whole APT region. The paper concludes that in the APT geopolitical context, regional festivals have remained an effective yet instrumental cooperation mechanism for half a century.