Culture for Development - Myanmar

Project completed

The project aims (i) to support freedom of expression and cultural identity, (ii) to promote skills and jobs in arts and culture. This will contribute to support socio-economic development and to strengthen social cohesion. Covid-19 has massively eroded livelihoods and carries a further risk for fundamental freedoms and civil society participation. The support to the culture sector is a relevant complement and leverage to Switzerland’s current interventions for peace, democracy and sustainable development in Myanmar.  

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Culture / development awareness
Employment & economic development
Climate change and environment
Human rights
Vocational training
Culture & recreation
Employment creation
Media & freedom of information
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Environmental policy
Vocational training
01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023
CHF  1’300’000

Despite a promising opening of public discourse at the beginning of Myanmar’s democratic transition in 2010, fundamental rights, freedom of expression and space for civil society in Myanmar are again increasingly curtailed.

Economic growth has not been inclusive with large differences between urban centres and the rest of the country, in particular in areas with large proportions of ethnic or religious minorities. Their traditional arts and crafts are falling behind due to limited modernisation or adaptation to contemporary consumer tastes, or lack of access to markets with the skills of artisans at risk of being lost and overtaken by industrial production of inferior quality. Sites of natural or cultural heritage are under threat from exploitation driven by rapid globalisation or big investment projects.

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has further increased pressure on civic liberties and freedom of expression, while the sudden economic down-turn will result in further strain on natural resources and on the livelihoods of marginalised groups, including artists, artisans, people with disabilities, and others across Myanmar.

Objectives Myanmar’s women and men freely express their cultural identity and promote their cultural and artistic heritage contributing to social cohesion, irrespective of gender, ethnicity and religious or socio-economic background.
Target groups Myanmar’s artists and artisans, cultural and artistic institutions as well as the general public.
Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: Artisans and artists improve their livelihoods, contribute to the protection and promotion of their artistic, cultural or natural heritage.

Outcome 2: Cultural activities and artistic expressions raise awareness on issues relevant to the people of Myanmar, with particular regard for social inclusion, climate change, dealing with the past, and human rights.

Outcome 3: Independent artists from across ethnic and socio-economic groups and geographic areas freely express and create their art and culture.


Expected results:  

-    Young people and adults can pursue professional vocations, training for decent jobs, and enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative sectors;

-    Support to projects with outputs related to issues of (i) social exclusion, (ii) climate change, (iii) dealing with the past, and (iv) human rights; 

-    Actors engaged in cultural, social, or artistic expression have strengthened personal, institutional, technical or organisational capacity to implement small projects aimed at domestic, regional, or international audiences.

Results from previous phases:  

-    Revision and modernisation of the curriculum for traditional weavers in Myanmar to align traditional crafts with contemporary market demands;

-    Artisanal skills developed through trainings associated with the restoration of heritage buildings in Yangon;

-    A support to Myanmar authorities contributed to strengthening their institutional capacity within the context of Bagan’s UNESCO World Heritage nomination in 2019; 

-    Support to the Myanmar Script Fund 2017 and 2018 has allowed a meaningful complementary intitiative to SDC’s Knowledge, Learning & Culture Division. Aspiring Myanmar film makers were able to participate in the Open Door Lab of the Locarno Film Festival and other film festivals and win a number of nominations and awards for their projects;

Past Small Actions to culture sector were mostly ad hoc initiatives with limited sustainability or benefit to Swiss visibilty.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
  • Other international or foreign NGO North
  • WWFInternational

Other partners
Artists or artisans, advocacy groups, academia, public or private institutions, local or national institutions / bodies, and national, regional or international NGOs active in cultural initiatives in Myanmar.
Coordination with other projects and actors The Goethe Institute Myanmar, EU Film Festival, British Council Myanmar, foreign embassies and other actors supporting culture initiatives in Myanmar.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    1’300’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’193’630
Project phases

Phase 1 01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023   (Completed)