Published on November 17th, 2021 | by Brussels In View


Festival brings together over 100 artists from Europe and Asia

Over 100 artists from more than 20 European and Asian countries will present cultural events in Brussels, Phnom Penh and online until 26 November to mark the ASEM Cultural Festival, which celebrates the cultural diversity and artistic exchange between Asia and Europe.

Over 30 events will showcase the rich cultural diversity and brilliant creative collaborations from Asia and Europe through theatre, dance, music, visual arts and interdisciplinary presentations.

A curtain raiser offering a taste of the festival programme to live audiences takes place in Brussels until 26 November.

These are an art installation featuring two giant, colourful inflatable heads inspired by popular Chinese masks with the addition of western elements (at Gallery St. Hubert, Brussels) and the screening of ‘White Building’, the debut feature film of Cambodian director Kavich Neang, which won the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards, as well as the Best Actor Award at the Orizzonti Venice Film Festival 2021. (Flagey Cultural Centre, Brussels).

Both activities are open to the public and free of charge.

During the 10 day festival artistic events representing over 20 ASEM partners, including dance and theatre performances, music concerts, visual arts and photography exhibitions, installations and conversations with artists, will be presented on the official website ( All the events will be available, free of charge, on the website, for the duration of the festival.

Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific · European External Action Service, told this site, ”The festival is a testimony to the strength of European and Asian creativity and the ever-closer cooperation developed by the cultural and creative industries in Asia and in Europe.

“Although the festival is hosted by Cambodia, and some of the performances will physically take place there, most of the activities will take place online. The festival period will therefore be a unique opportunity for audiences on the two continents to participate together, even if at a distance, in the activities.”

He said: “Culture forges strong bonds and allows us to understand each other better. When we understand who we are, we can work better and faster. And this gives us a powerful shield against existential threats and pressing challenges of our times. For the fourth time, the festival will celebrate the diversity of Asian and European cultures. It will also spotlight the rich cultural exchanges between our continents.”

As the host of the ASEM Cultural Festival 2021, Dr Phoeurng Sackona, Cambodia’s Minister of Culture & Fine Arts, states, “Under the theme, ‘Enhancing ASEM partnership through Arts and Culture’, the festival depicts an important occasion and makes a mark in history as we bring the artists from Asia and Europe closer to their audiences across the ASEM region, celebrating the spirit of resilience in these challenging times. I hope that the festival contributes to promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the two continents and fostering a dialogue on cultural values.”

Ambassador Morikawa Toru, Executive Director, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and co-organiser of the festival, added, “The value of culture lies in its ability to bring about cohesion amongst isolated societies during periods of fragmented realities.

“This has become even more evident with the impact of the pandemic over the last two years. The festival presents an opportunity to experience the vitality of artistic expressions and cultural diversity, while commemorating the shared history of Asia and Europe as well as reinforcing the bond of collaboration amongst the ASEM partners in these times of hybrid connections.”

The festival is a side event of the 13th summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13), which will take place on the 25-26 November 2021, hosted by the Government of Cambodia and which takes place each year on the side-lines of ASEM Summits or Foreign Ministers’ Meetings.

The festival endeavours to explore the enormous potential and dynamic synergy of intercultural collaborations and artistic co-creations between the two continents, as a flagship cultural platform in the framework of the ASEM leaders’ meetings. It also aims to increase awareness about the ASEM process among the arts communities of both regions and the general public.

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