Advancing visual literacy & Supporting documentary artists

Documentary Arts Asia is a non-profit organization which works primarily in photography and film, but also audio and narrative writing, to tell the stories from Asia that need to be heard.

Our Documentary Arts Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, supports documentary artists through the provision of training and library resources, grants and promotion.  We also strive to gain recognition for the importance of high-quality, independent and objective documentary practice through our own agency, magazine and documentary arts festival.

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See where Documentary Arts Asia Works and our various programs on our interactive map.


Documentary Arts Asia was conceived in January 2008 by Ryan Libre after working extensively with different NGOs on documentary photography projects.  It became clear that there was already a big need for photography and other documentary skills and education in Asia and as the awareness of the potential of photography and film grew, so would the demand.

Ryan taught several low cost and free photography workshops to activists, refugees and NGOs in an effort to raise the capacity for producing quality documentation of issues where there was an obvious shortfall in either resources, training provision, or both.  Realizing it would take many lifetimes and a huge array of skills and languages for any one person to fulfil these needs, Ryan decided to start Documentary Arts Asia.

In 2011 the organization received the Howard Chapnick Grant, part of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, to assist with the development of a solid legal, organizational and physical base.  This grant, although financially small, was huge for DAA and allowed the organization to develop significantly in a relatively short amount of time.  DAA is now under the umbrella of The Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation (SNF), one of the most established, active and respected foundations native to Southeast Asia. This relationship gives DAA a broad network to work with and a firm legal standing as a recognized non-profit foundation.  DAA has also been able to bring together a strong team of like-minded individuals committed to the values of its mission statement and set up a physical base in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  The Documentary Arts Asia Center Chiang Mai hosts a broad program of trainings, speakers and events, as well as the promotion and dissemination of independent documentary work by those working in photo and film across Asia. It is our hope that through these programs we will be able to influence the rapidly spreading interest in general photography in Asia to help it reach its immense potential for high quality, independent and objective documentary practice.  At the same time we aim to assist with the production and promotion of documentary projects which exist outside the standard remit of mainstream media, particularly those which represent the needs of marginalised communities and under-reported issues.


The Documentary Arts Asia FAQ


Q – How is DAA funded?

A – DAA is an not for profit organization and we received limited funding to start the physical center/gallery.

In addition to grants DAA strives to make much of it’s own funding.  This gives us more independence and also assures we are working at a professional levels and making sure our services are valued.

As of now we have no further external funding and it limits us to mostly things the market will support.  We want a balanced approach, to do activities the market will support in the market, but also have grant money to tap into for activities the market will not support.

Q – If i donate to DAA where will the money go?

A – Directly into our low cost activities.   Our 4-6 person team total, not per person, receives 200USD a month and our other overhead is very low.

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