SAARC Cultural Centre Mandate



At the Tenth SAARC Summit (Colombo, 29 – 31 July 1998), “The Heads of State or Government recognized that South Asia, while reflecting a rich, complex and varied plurality of cultural and religious traditions, was heir to a profound common civilizational continuum of great antiquity which constitutes a historical basis for sustaining harmonious relations among the people of the region. They acknowledged that the SAARC process could draw more deeply from the vitality and strength of South Asia’s shared cultural heritage as a source influencing and enhancing creative energies in all fields. The Heads of State or Government welcomed the offer of Sri Lanka to host a meeting of the Ministers of Cultural Affairs of SAARC to prepare a practical Action Plan to network the national institutes of cultural relations and to establish a South Asian Cultural Center to promote the distinctive arts of South Asia. They requested the Government of Sri Lanka to circulate a concept paper on the issues to be addressed by the meeting including financing arrangements for the proposed institute.”

As per the directive given by the Second Meeting of the SAARC Ministers of Culture (Colombo, 31 October 2006), a Meeting of the Senior Officials to finalize the SAARC Agenda for Culture was held at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu, 9 December 2006). The SAARC Agenda for Culture was approved by the Thirty-third Session of the Standing Committee (New Delhi, 31 March – 1 April 2007). At the Fourteenth  SAARC Summit  (New Delhi,  3-4 April 2007),  the Heads of State or Government launched the SAARC Agenda for Culture.

At the Thirty-First Session of the Programming Committee (New Delhi, 3-4 December 2007), it was decided that the Technical Committee on Human Resource Development would be discontinued and the mandate of this Committee relating to culture would be given to the SAARC Cultural Centre.

At the Fifteenth SAARC Summit (Colombo, 2-3 August, 2008) the Heads of State or Government directed that the Agenda for Culture be implemented in full. Thereafter, the First Meeting of the Centre’s Governing Board was convened in Colombo on 6-7 April 2009.

Objectives :

  • Promote regional unity through cultural integration and intercultural dialogue and
  • Contribute towards preservation, conservation and protection of South Asia’s cultural heritage
    within the framework of the SAARC Agenda for Culture.

The activities of the Centre would cover  performing arts, visual/fine arts, archaeology, ancient material culture, museology, literature, folklore and folk culture, poetry, diminishing arts and related traditions and include –

  1. Formulating and implementing programmes that will inspire, foster and promote these different forms of performing arts in the region;
  2. Identification and documentation of the regional tangible and intangible cultural heritage, existing across the region, particularly traditional and diminishing cultures, arts and related traditions;
  3. Research and documentation of best cultural practices across Member States, including arts and crafts, rituals and customs;
  4. Creation of an interactive cultural heritage portal site and archives utilizing contemporary state of the art digital technology and linking SAARC Cultural Centre portal with websites of relevant inter governmental institutions on culture;
  5. Networking and establishing linkages between culture and other sectors in attaining social and economic development, cooperation in the field of product development to enhance productivity and preservation skills/techniques of the artisans and  introduce them to contemporary trends and techniques;
  6. Networking and developing co-operative links with artists/crafts persons, relevant experts and institutions of eminence including museums, galleries and other cultural centres;
  7. Contributing inputs to the promotion of cultural and religious tourism in the region;
  8. Collaboration with international organizations with which SAARC has signed  Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), such as UNESCO, to further enhance the work of the Centre;
  9. Facilitating the sharing and exhibiting of  materials/rare collections from museums and archives, galleries, libraries and similar institutions across the region;
  10. Producing and distributing publications on cultural themes;
  11. Initiating Award Programmes that would serve as a tool for motivation/incentive and to recognize outstanding contribution to arts and culture within the SAARC region;
  12. Conducting trainings, workshops, conferences and exchange programmes to develop expertise and skills among Member States;
  13. Working in sync with other SAARC Regional Centres with the common objective of upholding the values of SAARC;
  14. Engaging in such other activities with the approval of the Governing Board to further the development and promotion of cultural activities and facilities within the region.