Living Arts International (LAI) incubates cultural initiatives that contribute to a peaceful, sustainable future, using the living arts as a catalyst for change. LAI began in Cambodia and is shaped by its identity as a grassroots, post-conflict, non-profit organization. At the core of its vision lies the imperative to nurture leadership across the cultural sector from within the Global South. After decades of work in Asia supporting cultural workers through Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) and Mekong Cultural Hub (MCH) since 1998 and 2018 respectively, LAI launched its international program in 2022 under the banner of Connecting South.

LAI’s international programs champion the arts as an agent of transformation, foster global knowledge exchange and empower emerging leaders and arts organizations in the Global South. They aim to initiate policy-driven, transnational cultural actions, inspired by the resilience of arts communities operating in societies experiencing conflict as well as those in a post conflict stage of development.

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lessons from conNecting south published

“It is time to reassess and reimagine the rules of engagement, both within the Global South and in our interactions with the broader global arts community.”

During 2022-2023, LAI piloted its first project of Connecting South: The South South Arts Fellowships. We are delighted to share the activities and the lessons learnt from this program, in a report authored by Fellowship Curator, Anupama Sekhar.

Read the report HERE.

an ai of our own

The next project of Connecting South will be a 3 year initiative entitled, “An AI of Our Own: Innovating AI to Include Diverse Ways of Knowing.” This program is designed in collaboration with CanopyLAB in an attempt to leverage the potential and exponential growth in AI technology to create adaptive and responsive systems wherein cultural heritage is preserved in a way that goes beyond traditional wikis, written datasets, and western methodologies of knowing and documenting. Rather than trying to fit the diverse heritage of the global south into a system which was not built for it, we propose to create “an AI of our own,” which leverages existing technological expertise and advancements of the global north but invites them to go beyond and envision a multi-cultural, diverse, and inclusive digital future.

FOLLOW US to keep up to date with activities and opportunities to get involved with this project.

South-south arts fellowships (2022-2023)

The South-South Arts Fellowships (SSAF) in 2022-2023 was LAI’s first program under the banner of Connecting South. The Fellowship program aimed to support individuals/collectives/teams or groups to build initiatives that enable long-term professional networks, alliances and collaborations among cultural workers and artists/creative practitioners living and working in developing economies in Africa and the Asia-Pacific. Targeting network builders and facilitators, it sought to advance existing initiatives in the Global South while forging new connections across the Global South. You can read more about the team involved in conceiving the Fellowship and some of their motivations for working on the project HERE.

Open to individuals and groups in arts, culture, and heritage across 100+ developing economies, the fellowship received 180 applications. Six fellows were chosen in June 2022 for a 13-month program ending in July 2023, receiving activity grants of $3,000 each to develop ongoing projects and curate virtual or hybrid activities. In the second phase, fellows collaborated on up to three collective activities, sharing a $20,000 grant.

Alongside grants, fellows received stipends, feedback from advisors, and participated in virtual peer exchanges and workshops. The fellowship culminated in a final workshop where fellows, advisors, and organizers reflected on their journey. The report of South-South Arts Fellowships (SSAF) was launched in April 2024: read it here.