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Learning creativity economy goes digital: 24 young Policymakers in ASEAN go online to keep learning during the pandemic

Learning creativity economy goes digital: 24 young Policymakers in ASEAN go online to keep learning during the pandemic

UNESCO’s first ever 8-week online training on Creative Economy has come to a successful end, empowering 24 young policy makers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be the next creative economy leaders!    

The online training was a partnership between UNESCO and City, University of London celebrating the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021, specifically focused on teaching creative economy to policymakers and practitioners in the cultural and creative sector in the ASEAN region. It was particularly timely following COVID-19, which had deep consequences for cultural and creative industries worldwide. This momentum-built urgency and made 2021 the ideal time to sensitize and mobilize policymakers on the creative economy, in line with the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Participants were selected competitively through an open call for applications, with an outcome of 70% female participation and 63% coming from governmental cultural and creative industries (CCIs). Selected participants were granted a scholarship from the Republic of Korea for this training.

"Our target audience were those who had some experience of, or engagement in, CCI; so, we could not just tell, but we needed to learn as a group thereby a building deeper knowledge of local CCI processes and policy making. Creating even a simple mapping of the Creative Economy requires a huge effort. This is a reminder that policy does not ‘just happen’, it requires information, institutions, and skilled individuals to make out work. Finally, monitoring the 2005 convention is not a simple checklist exercise, but both an interpretive and learning process."

Professor Andy Pratt, City University of London



The course was designed to encourage effective engagement and confront digital fatigue via short interactive components. The faculty made sure that course modules were designed interactively and via varied formats to maintain concentration and attention. To be more effective in delivery, lectures were pre-recorded in ‘bite sized’ chunks or 10-15 minutes videos, while containing a mix of (regional/local) expert interviews, animated concept explainers, and talks; tied up with an introduction and conclusion. Each week students were asked to share their own local interpretations and application of the ideas and themes discussed.

"Rather than providing a set ‘template’ of knowledge, we have created a process of leaning and action that embraces the diversity of culture and its expressions, and policies. This sensitivity to context, and situatedness, is - we would argue - once of the hallmarks of this course and it is an awareness that we hope that practitioners will take back to their workplaces. We were gratified, and surprised, that the busy policy makers from across the ASEAN region who participated in our programme attended every session, a remarkable thing for an on-line course."

Dr. Jenny Mbaye, City University of London

A certificate was offered from City, University of London in association with UNESCO for all those that complete the course (dependent upon satisfactory attendance rate and completion of tasks). The alumni of the UNESCO-CITY Creative economy course will serve as a regional policy network that UNESCO can cooperate and collaborate with now and well into the future.

This course was implemented within the framework of "Strengthening capacities of ASEAN cultural policy officials and enhancing regional cooperation opportunities", which is funded by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, in order to build a regional network of professionals for more inclusive policy for creativity. UNESCO plans to roll out this online training on the creative economy to other regions and in other languages to reinforce a network of policymakers and practitioners in the culture and creative sectors.

"Literature on the ASEAN creative industries is quite limited. Therefore, being able to discuss and exchange our thoughts on topics related to the creative economy in the region - both in weekly group discussions and the live presentation sessions - helped widen my perspective on the development of the discourse in Southeast Asia, the direction each country is taking, and unique challenges of our countries. I have learnt a lot and the discussions have deepened my understanding of each topic as well."

Phitchakan (Thailand), Thammasat University


"The most important thing I’ve learned from the training is the multitude of local perspectives on the creative economy as presented by my peers. Having studied cultural and creative industries in university, I am already familiar with a few concepts and examples on the creative economy, however, most of them are from a Western/Global North viewpoint. The training made me realize how little I know about my closest neighbors, and it is fascinating to learn about the diverse creative economy practices in ASEAN countries."

Aushaf (Indonesia), Creative Economy



UNESCO Creative Economy Alumni List (ASEAN ’21)

Pass with Distinction

Phitchakan Chuangchai (Thailand) is a lecturer of Management of Cultural Heritage and Creative Industries, College of Innovation at Thammasat University, Thailand. She completed her Ph.D. in Creative Industries at the University of Warwick, UK. Her research focuses on urban cultural policies in the ASEAN region, the development of the cultural and creative industries, and its benefits and impacts on society. 

Amy Darajati Utomo (Indonesia) is a project coordinator of KONNECT ASEAN, the core art and culture project in the ASEAN Foundation, an organization with a mandate to develop an ASEAN community across Southeast Asia. Her work includes leading the stakeholder management, monitoring and evaluation, and implementing the various project that KONNECT ASEAN has in its portfolio across the region. Aside from her work in ASEAN Foundation, she is also active in gender empowerment community, Empowomen.id. Her work focuses in ensuring safe spaces for youth to access their sexual and reproductive health rights. She studied International Relations at University of Indonesia.

Ang Ming Chee (Malaysia) is the general manager of George Town World Heritage Incorporated, serving as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Manager. With the global health crisis impacting the cultural sector (heritage and tourism alike), she is exploring the best approach to incorporate the creative economy as a mean to generate sustainable income for the local community in George Town. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the National University of Singapore and completed a Master’s in International Studies at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Phina So (Cambodia) is the manager of the Knowledge Networks and Policy Program at Cambodian Living Arts (CLA). Within the program, she runs the Living Arts Fellows program, a cultural leadership program for Cambodian artists, managers, researchers and policymakers with a strong component on developing knowledge and networks within Southeast Asia. Phina also curates and facilitates talks, seminars and conferences, manages mobility grants for cultural practitioners and works on collaborations with local and international academic partners. Prior to working at CLA, Phina was a Research Associate at Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) , a policy think tank.

Aushaf Widisto (Indonesia) is currently working as a Research and Communications Assistant at Creative Economy, an Australia-based strategic advisory practice specializing in sustainable economic development and strategic development for the cultural and creative industries. With a Bachelor of Urban & Regional Planning from Institut Teknologi Bandung in Indonesia and a Master of Cultural & Creative Industries from Monash University in Australia, Aushaf's goal is to leverage arts and culture to create better cities and communities.

Cherilyn Woo (Singapore) is a freelance theatre director based in Singapore. Currently, she is an Associate with Nine Years Theatre, a Mandarin theatre company in Singapore. She is active in the Singapore Theatre scene working with both established theatre companies and independent collectives. Her works include a range of multidisciplinary work that incorporates technology. For more information: www.cherilynwoo.com

Onn Sokny (Cambodia) is a country director at Epic Arts Cambodia, an international organization based in Cambodia that promotes the inclusion of all abilities and disabilities through the arts. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring that the programs serve the organization’s mission and that they are inclusive, high-quality and respond to the community’s needs.

Pass with Merit

Onn Sokny (Cambodia) is a country director at Epic Arts Cambodia, an international organization based in Cambodia that promotes the inclusion of all abilities and disabilities through the arts. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring that the programs serve the organization’s mission and that they are inclusive, high-quality and respond to the community’s needs. Sokny is the board member of a few local organizations and is an Advisor at the Ministry of Fine Arts. She is one of the Founding Committee of Cultural and Creative Industries of Cambodia Association for Development and Advocacy (CICADA)

Diana Ramli (Brunei) works as a manager of the Enterprise Programme at Darussalam Enterprise, a Statutory Body established to help local enterprises in Brunei Darussalam. She provides advisory and funding opportunities to start-ups and MSMEs, organizing a capacity building programme for women entrepreneurs while working on a new initiative to set up a design center to encourage innovation and enhance the competitiveness of the creative industries.

Dara Huot (Cambodia) is the chief executive of Phare Performing Social Enterprise Co., a social business in Cambodia to create employment opportunities for Cambodian Artists. He is also serving as the chairperson of the Cultural and Creative Industry Association of Cambodia for Development & Advocacy, which was established thanks to the UNESCO IFCD project with administration support from Cambodian Living Arts.

Herlina (Indonesia) is responsible for analyzing and formulating creative economy policies within multilateral fora at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia. She finds this course highly relevant to her current job as her responsibilities at the Ministry include organizing the 3rd World Conference on Creative Economy by the Government of Indonesia in 2022, holding annual meetings of the Friends of Creative Economy, a multi-stakeholder forum, and setting up a Global Center of Excellence and International Cooperation for Creative Economy (G-CINC).

Janet S. Cuenca (Philippines) is formerly a Research Fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, a government think tank attached to the National Economic and Development Authority. Most of her research focused on the fiscal and social sectors. She is currently the Director of the Bureau of Trade and Industrial Policy Research of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Competitiveness and Innovation Group. She received a PhD in public policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

Hajah Nur Kamilah Haji Ismail (Brunei) is an Archaeology officer at the Department of Museums at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Brunei. She is enthusiastic to learn more to incorporate her expertise in museum management with new trends in the creative industries to go forward with the Ministry’s Strategic Plan 2020-2024 on Dynamic Culture and Safeguard Heritage. She completed her MSc in Archaeological Materials at the University of Sheffield.

Jennifer Lee-Bonto (Philippines) works as the executive director of the Artists Welfare Project Inc., (AWPI) an NGO championing artists rights and welfare. It aims to facilitate Filipino artists’ participation in government programs for medical, disability, retirement, housing and similar benefits. She led advocacy efforts for affordable HMO healthcare for freelance artists and creatives including the legislation on the workplace safety for freelancers while making progress to create a Master's degree course in Philippine Culture and the Arts for creative professionals.

Kenneth I. Biunas (Philippines) is a Senior Design Project Manager at the Design Center of the Philippines, a technical agency of the Department of Trade and Industry. At Design Center, he spearheads the agency’s work on design economy, design policy, design promotion, creative industries, and creative hubs. He is currently leading the first Philippine Design Economy Mapping and the formulation of the country’s first-ever National Design Policy. He wishes to strengthen the Center’s creative economy network in the ASEAN region to further develop the recognition of the role of creative economy and design as the next growth driver of the national economy.

Nattapon Suwanpayom (Thailand) is an architect and a project manager at Creative Economy Agency, a public organization that supports creative entrepreneurs and professionals. He received his Master’s degree in International Management and Design Innovation at the University of Glasgow, UK, where he learned how the cultural and creative industries could enrich a city, generate economic prosperity, and empower local citizens. As a staff of the Creative Economy Agency, his responsibility is to help and support the practitioners in the creative ecosystem.

Kathleen Mae M. Villamin (Philippines) serves as the Chief Political Affairs Officer (Chief of Staff) in the Office of Representative Rosanna V. Vergara at the Philippine House of Representatives. Among her various responsibilities, she has provided technical and administrative support in the deliberations of legislative measures such as those in the area of creative economy while closely monitoring various meetings of the Special Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts, of which her principal is a member. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of the Philippines.


Leah Katrina del Rosario-Rasay (Philippines) is the founder of Husay Company, a social enterprise that provides workshops to artists to boost their career and enable them to connect to both job and advocacy opportunities. She founded the company to address the upskilling and job challenges of Filipino artists. Leah enrolled in the course to widen her view and create more opportunities for artists and creative workers.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha (Viet Nam) is a director of VICAS Art Studio (part of the Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies (VICAS), a public-run art space for contemporary art support and development in Viet Nam. She completed her doctorate in cultural management at VICAS and her main academic interests are cultural policy, cultural heritages, cultural tourism and ecological culture. In addition to research, she is a consultant in cultural policy.

Makara Oeun (Cambodia) is a director of Planning, Statistics and Consolidation Department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. He leads and manages technical work related to the formulation of policies, strategic plans, and action plans. He studied sociology (B.A.) at Royal University of Phnom Penh, diplomacy (diploma) at Royal School of Administration, and Rural Development and Project Management (M.A.) at Build Bright University, Cambodia. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. in Political Science at Royal Academy of Cambodia.

Shaun Adam’s (Malaysia) work is focused on economic policies and development in the Asia Pacific region. He was previously attached with the International Trade Centre, a multilateral agency under the United Nations. His responsibilities included managing trade-related technical assistance projects and undertaking research, and drafting policies for developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in International Business at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Malaysia, and his Master’s degree in International Business & Emerging Markets at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Consuelo V. Zapata (Philippines) serves as a director/chief culture and arts officer of the Cultural Management Division – Arts Education Department of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, where she supports capacity building activities for the performing arts and creative sectors. During the pandemic, the Center quickly implemented the digital transition by organizing webinars, arts market and trade fairs in virtual ways.

Francisco Urbano dos Santos (Timor-Leste) While working at state Secretary of Art and Culture of Timor-Leste, and having experience in cultural interchange and cultural cooperation among countries, he decided to take-up a course related to international relations. In 2021, he graduated from International Relations at the Universidade da Paz of Timor-Leste. He took part in Timor-Leste’s first Quadrennial Periodic Report on the implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention, completed in 2020 and is the National focal point for UNESCO 2003 Convention & UNESCO 2005 Convention, coordinating with national authorities and stakeholders in implementing the conventions ratified by Timor-Leste.

Kanteera Choompanya (Thailand) is a senior creative industries development strategist at Creative Economy Agency of Thailand, a public organization, with the mission to promote the creative economy as the driving force to achieve a balanced and sustainable economy. She is in charge of facilitating creative contents and media subsectors of Thai creative economy to work collaboratively and make inroads in the global market. She completed her MA in Public Administration and Public Policy from the University of York.

Lalawan Kampeera (Thailand) is a cultural officer at the Foreign Affairs Division of the Ministry of Culture of Thailand. Her responsibility at the Ministry includes promoting and deepening Thailand’s cultural presence and engagement to the world, as well as cultivating relationships with cultural organizations. She received the Bachelor of Arts and the ­Master of Arts from the University of Tours, France, and attended University College London, UK, as a visiting research student.

Source: https://en.unesco.org/creativity/news/learning-creativity-economy-goes-digital-24-young