The idea of forming a regional association first came up in the Conference Workshop on ASEAN Audio/Video and Film Retrieval, Restoration and Archiving held in Manila in 1993. In this conference, the participants drew up a framework for a comprehensive program for film/video archiving including a recommendation to form an ASEAN confederation of film archivists to promote the development of film/video archiving in the region.
At the ASEAN Training Seminar on Film and Video Archive Management, a project of the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information, held in Canberra, Australia in May 1995, the participants from Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand pursued the idea of a regional association envisioned to provide a mechanism to address common issues and concerns related to the collection, preservation and provision of access to the audio visual heritage of member countries. The Steering Committee and other interim committees were constituted by the participants to pursue the formal establishment of the association within the prescribed terms of reference.
The Steering Committee met in Bangkok, Thailand to finalize the constitution that would be presented during the inaugural assembly.
The Southeast Asia-Pacific Audio Visual Archives Association was legally constituted and launched in Manila, Philippines in February 1996, when the association also held its First General Assembly to ratify its Constitution, elect its officers and plan its first year programs and activities.