Asia and Europe: Cultures Connect was the theme of ASEM Cultural Festival in 2019, a multidisciplinary festival which, gathered over 40 Asian and European artists in Madrid from 11 to 15 December to showcase the richness of their cultural and artistic diversity through music, dance and digital art. A curtain raiser offering a sneak peek of the festival took place in Brussels on 6 December. Seven music and dance shows, artist workshops, audience encounters, a virtual reality exhibition and a special exhibit on ‘ASEAN Cultural Year 2019’, made up the festival schedule, taking place in different spaces in the city centre: Círculo de Bellas Artes, Conde Duque Cultural Centre, Nicolás Salmerón Cultural Centre, CentroCentro, Casa de Vacas and Casa Asia in Madrid. All the events in the Festival were open to the public and were free.

A concert featuring world music and jazz “Nguyen Le Saiyuki & Friends” with the participation of 7 musicians performing together for the first time, opened the festival, while“Between Tiny Cities”, a hip-hop performance with dancers from Australia and Cambodia, was the closing event. In between these events, the Festival presented “Kizuna”, a concert by two interpreters of Japanese string instruments, the, koto and the kotsuzumi, accompanied by Spanish guitar; “Rasa y Duende: Lorca, Flamenco y la India”, a dialogue between different performing arts from India and the deepest roots of Spanish flamenco singing and dancing; Poong Ryu, a Korean music and dance show with 15 artists on stage; Rudraksham, a concert by a classical Indian Carnatic and Hindustani music group with percussion and string instruments; two exhibitions, one in-person exhibition about the cultural diversity from the countries of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and a virtual reality exhibition comprising 4 installations presenting audience interaction through emblematic and universal works of art by different European and Asian artists, and workshops led by the artists themselves, made up the menu for the ASEM Cultural Festival 2019.

The ASEM Cultural Festival (#ASEMfest) was one of the side-events organised at the 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting (ASEMFMM14) which took place in Madrid on 15 and 16 December 2019.

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to promote dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe. There are currently 51 Partner countries, of which 30 are European and 21 are Asian, along with the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat, which makes a total of 53 Partners.