The Tini Tinou Circus Festival Is Back after a 4-Year Pause

Students and professional artists of Phare Ponleu Selpak launched the Tini Tinou Circus Festival with a parade in the streets of Battambang City. Photo: Phare Ponleu Selpak

Including Cambodian and international artists, this is one more sign that the country is in post-COVID-19 mode, the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak spokesperson says

PHNOM PENH–Around 150 artists from Cambodia, France, Taiwan and Thailand have been holding in Battambang City the first circus festival in the country since 2018.

Held at the circus facility of the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak, which has organized the event, the festival started on May 29 with the “Street Puppet and Circus Parade” in the city, ending on June 3 with a live concert of hip hop and alternative music by musicians of the Cambodian label KlapYaHandz.

“We have been thrilled to be able to host public shows again after a 2-year hiatus,” said Osman Khawaja, executive director of the NGO. Taking place every two years, the 2018 festival had had to be cancelled due to a lack of sponsors and the 2020 was postponed because of COVID-19, he said.

 Artists from France’s Frigo collectif will perform for the first time in Cambodia during the Tini Tinou festival. Photo: Frigo Collective

The fact that Tini Tinou could take place this year was one more indication that the country is in post-pandemic mode, Khawaja said. “Being able to invite foreign artists for a festival says a lot for the Cambodian government's successful policies around COVID-19 prevention and safe re-opening of the country.”

Had the situation in Cambodia and the government measures regarding the epidemic not been trusted internationally, foreign countries would not have allowed their circus artists to take part in the event, he said.   

As for people in the country, Khawaja added, ‘[f]festivals like this give Cambodians a chance to experience foreign shows right in their own backyard.”

This first festival of the 2020s has only taken place in Battambang City rather than in three cities—Phnom Penh, the Phare the Circus facility in Siem Reap City, and Battambang City—as it was the case in the mid-2010 due to sponsorship being modest this year, he said.    

Still, Khawaja added, “[w]e feel that Battambang is the perfect city for art festivals given its size, creativity, and availability of artists.  We hope art festivals like Tini Tinou can help Battambang reclaim its historical title as the hub of arts and culture in Cambodia.”

International artists have included those of the Frigo Collectif of France, VK.Vich & Atom of Thailand, the Eye Catching Circus and the Formosa Circus Arts  of Taiwan. “The foreign artists were able to join because of support from the cultural ministries of their own countries,” Khawaja said.

Artists taking part in the event have also included dancers, musicians, singers and visual artists. When not performing, Cambodian and foreign artists met and discuss among themselves as well as held forums open to the public.

This was the 11th time that Tini Tinou has been held in the country. Launched by the French Institute in Phnom Penh in 2003 and co-organized with Phare, the festival was taken over by Phare and held every two years until 2018. “Moving forward Tini Tinou will be held every 2 years, alternating with the S’Art Urban Art Festival , which was launched by Phare in 2019 with the next edition coming in 2023,” Khawaja said. 

 For more information: visit the festival website or Facebook page Tini Tinou International Circus Festival


The women circus troupe Eye Catching Circus from Taiwan was launched nearly 30 years ago. Photo: Eye Catching Circus.

A young circus student of Phare Ponleu Selpak perfoms with Phare artists during the Tini Tinou Circus Festival held in Battambang City these last few days. Photo: Phare Ponleu Selpak.

Students and professional artists of Phare Ponleu Selpak launched the Tini Tinou Circus Festival with a parade in the streets of Battambang City. Photo: Phare Ponleu Selpak

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