The SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Center of Thailand is taking a major step to make Thailand’s community crafts better known in ASEAN.
It has urged ASEAN countries to join forces in conducting studies on the roots of ASEAN arts and crafts and in developing handicraft-making, in response to the market demand. The issue was raised at the first International Innovative Crafts Symposium, "ASEAN Innovative Arts and Crafts."
Organized by the SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Center of Thailand, the symposium took place on 8-11 August 2012 at the Craft Innovation Center in Ayutthaya province, coinciding with the Thai Arts and Crafts Fair, held between 9 and 13 August 2012, in commemoration of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 80th birthday anniversary.
Her Majesty the Queen in 1976 established the Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques, or the SUPPORT Foundation, which plays a vital role in reviving traditional arts and crafts, preserving them, training craft makers, providing assistance in craft designing, and seeking markets for folk crafts. Later, in 2003, the SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Center of Thailand was set up as a public organization run under the supervision of the Ministry of Commerce. The main objectives are to help develop Thai handicrafts and make them better known in the international community.
In his remarks at the symposium, the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, Dato' Misran Karmain, stated that over the years, ASEAN had created and maintained an effective mechanism to protect, conserve, and preserve the cultural heritage of the region. At the same time, ASEAN continues to promote culture and information for the purpose of enhancing mutual understanding and solidarity among the peoples of ASEAN, as well as in fostering regional identity.
The Declaration on ASEAN Unity in Cultural Diversity: Toward Strengthening ASEAN Community 2011 signed on 17 November 2011 in Bali, Indonesia, at the sidelines of the 19th ASEAN Summit is another platform to recognize, respect, protect, and promote the existing cultural diversity in the region. The Declaration considers arts and crafts the important elements in promoting an ASEAN identity through fostering of greater awareness of the diverse cultures and heritage of the ASEAN region.
The ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General pointed out that ASEAN realizes that it will have to focus on the diversification and development of arts and crafts to forge closer friendship and understanding, enhance ASEAN bonding through cultural creativity and the promotion and cooperation on cultural industries, to guarantee the viability of the ASEAN Community.
He believes that regional action on innovative arts and crafts is necessary to create an ASEAN sense of belonging, consolidate unity in diversity, and enhance deeper mutual understanding among ASEAN Member States about their culture, history, religion, and civilization in order to establish the ASEAN Community by 2015.