Culture Season Program Keeps Arts Alive

This year’s program chose the theme “Your kind, Our kind” because the team had learned a lot from artists in the country and in foreign countries during trips. Photo by Meng Seavmey

PHNOM PENH – Classical, contemporary-based and many other types of Khmer arts will be performed in the fourth Culture Season Program from February in the capital and provinces to promote young creative artists’ talents.

Initiated by the Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) organisation in 2018, the program has presented the development and conservation of Khmer tradition and culture through the arts, protected by young artists whose talents reflect the context of the country in performances.

Soy Chanborey, a lakhaon dance trainer, said the program would present the talents of the artists who have little voices, disabled performers, minority groups and others.

It includes four creative literatures readings, three reading-theatre performances, digital work, and five types of performance such as traditional contemporary, musical and lakhaon performances as well as a workshop.

The performances include the Classical Lakhon of Kean Svay Krav pagoda on the Lin Thoong story which is a Khmer classical tale, the contemporary style dance of “Same Same”, the contemporary style dance of “Become”, the contemporary style music of “Voice”, and spoken-theatre performance of “My Choice.”

This year’s program chose the theme “Your kind, Our kind” because the team had learned a lot from artists in the country and in foreign countries during trips. The team combined their ideas to make a better one.

According to the CLA. “Your kind” refers to when a person has a unique, different idea from the rest of the people. “Our kind” refers to the acceptance of a person getting from a group of people who have similar ideas.

Combining the terms, the theme means isolating oneself from the group that only accepts their kind. It also explains that even though someone is different from the rest, they are also a part of the group.

The team wants to hear the stories and about experiences as well as comments from the authors, thinkers and young people in society.

The main purpose of the program is to celebrate the diversity and differences of Khmer arts with inclusiveness promoted, openness for discussing and sharing, and linking the social context of Cambodia and the world.

It is to enhance the act of expressing and being creative, and provides an opportunity for the artists, performers and operators to develop their skill and new experiences and to build human resources as well as audiences for the Khmer arts.

It also aims to show the talents of artists, especially young ones, to present their creativity by reflecting the context of Cambodia’s contemporary society.

Norm Narin, deputy director of the Department of Performing Arts at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said the program would be a way to revive the classic lakhaon on stage after two years of having studied and done research on this style.  

“The arts which are not performed will soon die despite the training,” she said, adding that the program will give hope for this type of lakhaon which had almost died out.

Ouen Roza, a Cambodian actress and the ambassador of the Reek Sai community promoting cultural activities, said the participation and support from the young people were important for both the culture/tradition and the culture protectors/conservators.

The program will begin in February and the performances will tour 12 places in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kampong Chhnang, and Pailin provinces with the cooperation and partnership with provincial departments of culture, local artists and pagoda directors.

Thorn Seyma, community engagement & outreach program coordinator of the CLA, said the tour aims to promote the performances among the people living in provinces as well, making it the opportunity to present the social context-based arts to the public.

In 2022, the program attracted total audiences of about 8,000 people during the tour in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom and Kampot provinces.

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