Delineating and Assessing Cultural Relations: The Case of Asialink
There has been a turn from traditional notions of state-led, top-down cultural diplomacy toward a cultural relations approach that seeks to build mutual relationships with people and nations through meaningful communication, dialogue, and collaboration—typically without direct state involvement. There is, though, considerable confusion around the distinctions among the models, and a dearth of impact assessments. This article identifies five key features of cultural relations that help to distinguish it from cultural diplomacy. These are used to assess the structure, practice, and outcomes of Asialink’s experimental Kerjasama Residency between Australian and Indonesian artists and Asialink’s involvement in the Fukutake House Asia Art Platform in Japan. Using interviews with participants alongside two senior Asialink staff responsible for organizing the initiatives, the article finds that a cultural relations approach was adopted, but there were also elements of cultural diplomacy, and the projects resulted in mutually beneficial outcomes.