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The Asian Performing Arts Festival (APAF) is one of joint projects under the framework of Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21). Participating cities such as Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Delhi, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Rangoon, Singapore, and Bangkok take turns to hold this festival every year after it was initiated in Tokyo in October 2001.

This event aims to encourage mutual understanding and cultural exchange among Asian cities. Through a wide variety of stage performances, workshops and exhibitions, it also promotes interaction between performing artists in Asia, thereby searching for new talent and exploring the possibility of international joint production.

The first Asian Performing Arts Festival was held in Tokyo in 2002, followed by Delhi in 2003, Hanoi in 2004, and Taipei in 2006. A number of performing groups from Tokyo, Seoul, Manila, Bangkok, and Delhi came to Taipei to participate in the 2006 Asian Performing Arts Festival.

Manila was the host city of the 2007 Asian Performing Arts Festival – titled The Review of the Joint Projects. The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) sent Taipei Folk Dance Theatre to take part in the festival on November 26, 2007 at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. The dance wowed local audiences and representatives of other cities alike.

The 2008 Asian Performing Arts Festival was held at the Sejong Center in Seoul. The DCA sent the Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company and Sun Son Theatre to Seoul. One year later, it was Japan’s turn to host the festival, which took place at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space. The DCA chose the Century Contemporary Dance Company to represent Taipei and work with Japanese choreographer Mikuni Yanaihara.

From 2010, performing artists from Asian cities began to carry out a wide range of joint projects during the Asian Performing Arts Festival. Numerous artists of member cities were invited to the host city Tokyo in an effort to work on the joint production. The goal of the international joint projects lies in cultural exchange. The DCA sent Theatre Company of Lee Qing-zhao the Private to participate in the 2010 event.

In 2011, artists from Taipei and Tokyo performed together at the Treasure Hill Artist Village in Taipei. Meanwhile, Junko Emoto, director of the Tokyo-based Kegawazoku Theater, also worked with Chu Van Luong, director of the Hanoi-based Thang Long Water Puppet Theater.

One year later, Japanese visual director Keisuke Takahashi and dancer Mikuni Yanaihara came to Taipei in a bid to collaborate with the Sun Son Theatre. In 2013, the DCA selected the Sun Son Theatre and Century Contemporary Dance Company to represent Taipei to take part in the festival in Tokyo.

Organized by the DCA and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Citizens and Cultural Affairs, the 2014 Asian Performing Arts Festival took place in the two cities. Japanese young director Sasaki Toru flied to Taipei to cooperate with Chen Wei-ning, director of the Century Contemporary Dance Company. Their show, titled Illusion, debuted in Taipei in August 2014, receiving great acclaim from both audiences and critics. Three months later, it also wowed the audience in Tokyo.