|The SEAMEO Regional Center for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO-SPAFA) is an organization founded in 1978 in Bangkok, Thailand under the aegis of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) representing eleven Southeast Asian nations(*). Its mission is to help preserve the cultural heritage sites around Southeast Asia and the region’s traditional arts, and to promote awareness and appreciation of them in order to advance mutual knowledge, understanding and cooperation among SEAMEO Member Countries. To achieve these aims, SEAMEO-SPAFA pursues the following objectives.
1. Cultivate awareness and appreciation of cultural heritage through collaboration in information dissemination and other relevant programs of activities;
2. Promote and help enrich archaeological and cultural activities in the region;
3. Further professional competence in the fields of archaeology and fine arts through regional programs and activities and through sharing of resources and experiences; and
4. Advance mutual knowledge and understanding among the countries of Southeast Asia through regional programs in archaeology and fine arts.
Furthermore, SEAMEO-SPAFA aims to benefit as many SEAMEO member countries as possible and produce long-term impact on individuals or institutions by improving skills and self-reliance, complementing other development efforts related to culture and society and facilitating the transfer of knowledge, skills and technology suitable to the development of Southeast Asia. SEAMEO-SPAFA also has seven Associate Members including Australia, New Zealand and Canada in the Pacific rim and four European countries and receives support from donor countries (Japan, Canada, and Italy) as well as from international organizations such as UNESCO, ICCROM, and IDP Australia.
In 2008, the Center organized “LIVE ARTS BANGKOK” as a new performance festival for regenerating heritage art & spaces, dance, theatre and puppetry. The festival presented ten works by artists from nine countries, including Japan, at important architectural heritage sites around the city of Bangkok. (Curator: Tang FU KUEN).
Although its offices are in a Thai government building, SEAMEO-SPAFA, like other SEAMEO Centers, operates as an autonomous, international institution. The organizational structure of SEAMEO - SPAFA consists of a policy making body, called the Governing Board, and has three departments (specialist team of researchers, etc., a management and financial team and a library/documentation team) that provide a variety of services.
In response to requests from governments and organizations the Center offers consultation services in cultural resource management designed to suit requirements of governments and organizations. Services include (1) specially arranged cultural tours conducted by the region’s leading specialists and academics in archaeology, history, and culture, (2) funding for the Science Laboratory for Archaeology and Fine Arts and (3) full facility conference and lecture rooms, and accommodation available for guests and rental by the public.
Programs and Activities
The primary areas of SEAMEO – SPAFA’s programs are Archaeology, Visual Arts and Performing Arts and activities are carried out year-round with a focus on resource management specialized educational services to nurture personnel in the areas of research and management with training courses, seminars/workshop, dissemination of information, library/documentation services and personnel exchanges.
Of these, some of the major activities are performed by the Library and Documentation services, which include clearing house functions, documenting and publishing proceedings of SPAFA research, seminars and workshops and collects, processes, stores, retrieves and disseminates information on archaeology, prehistory, fine arts, performing arts, visual arts.
Main programs in 2011
In January 2011, The Asia-Pacific Forum: Youth Action on Climate Change; Exploration through Cultural Expression was held in Bangkok, gathering 150 participants from 17 countries to explore the possibilities of using artistic expression as an approach to providing solutions or issues relating to the environment and cultural heritage sites and assets. An Asia Youth in Action, The Warriors of the Earth (http://grou.ps/asiayouthinaction) was established as a network for continuing action in this area. The Japan Foundation is one of the organizations providing funding for this forum.
In May, there was a seminar in Thailand on rock art (art works made of rock) with training and workshops. In August, a seminar titled Heritage Conservation in Historic Towns and Urban Areas: The Role of the Private Sector in Southeast Asia and Europe was held.
*Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization member nations:
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor and Vietnam.