Right now, Tourists know Thailand for its elephants but not its modern art, China for its dumplings but not its hip-hop and Japan for its Geishas but not its radical feminism. Anything that doesn’t fit the narrative of how Western Travel and Media companies define Asian Culture is simply excluded.
Rather than trying to showcase mass culture to a mass audience, I started Asia Art Tours to give artists a platform to speak out. Asia Art Tours carefully chooses and selects a few creative travelers every month to meet with artists and learn from them.
I’ve put together a few reasons why no matter your background or beliefs, you should consider collaborating with Asia Art Tours.
For The Arts:
We are an impartial space for artists and academics to express themselves, and reach a new audience that typically would not search out galleries, academics or art. We try to spread artist’s voices and ideas by:
- Filming with artists to broaden their reach beyond their own country: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0jWxJSYJYk&t=12s
- Interviewing and giving a safe space for artists to express their beliefs freely: com/interview-with-manit-sriwanichpoom-thailands-master-photographer/
- We only accept 2-3 clients a month, pay whatever the artists’ feel is fair and inform the clients that the artist’s availability is never fixed.
Artists and their institutions currently face three monopolies that Asia Art Tours defies.
- Companies like Klook or Airbnb wants to standardize, monopolize and control culture. When AirBnB promotes a certain activity (Ex: Elephant camps), this leads to a network effect where the increased attention paid to those activities, reduces contact and visibility for other arts or activities. 
For example- If more people are booking Elephant camps on AirBnB this leads to more Instagram Photos of Elephants, which leads to more people searching for Elephant Camps on Google, which leads more people to AirBnB searching for Elephant Camps! Whatever is easy to find and popular becomes easier to find and more popular. Whatever is hard to find becomes harder to find and less popular
- Companies like Artsy or Sotherby’s are leading a movement to turn art into a financial instrument, like a stock share or derivative. Asia Art Tours believes that human beings should determine the “worth” of art through the meaning, power and aesthetics of the piece. But this means that we must maintain and encourage human contact between the work of art, patrons and artists.
- Museums and galleries have become more and more reliant on a shrinking pool of buyers. This gives buyers outsized power both in terms of the market value of art, but also what art they will allow to be shown. Which is why Asia Art Tour’s believes having artists speak for themselves and introducing curious parties to the artists is so important. It allows artists to remain critical, controversial and speak freely to individuals who have no political stake in their work.
For the Future:
I look forward to Asia Art Tours introducing travelers to Asia’s brave and brilliant artists. I hope that these encounters and conversations inspire new ideas for the future. I hope for the reasons I’ve outlined above you’ll join me.
Sincerely, Matthew J. Dagher-Margosian,
Founder Asia Art Tours