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Opening opportunities for young artists

Say Tola / Khmer Times Share:
Bo Ratha, from Phare - The Cambodian Circus, does some acrobatic stunts. KT/Say Tola

Apart from many programmes and projects that are centered on artistic and cultural performances, Cambodian Living Arts – a vibrant arts organisation in Cambodia – has also been putting emphasis on arts education through its Arn Chorn-Pond Living Arts Scholarship to provide opportunities to young and talented local artists, enabling them to chase their dreams and uplift Cambodian arts.

Initiated in 2011, the Arch Chorn-Pond Living Arts has helped many people from diverse backgrounds on various kinds of art skills. And just last week at the Cambodian Living Arts Theatre, 2019 Arn Chorn-Pond Living Arts Scholarship released the names of 10 students who are given the chance to study on their chosen subjects.

Arn Chorn-Pond, the founder of Cambodian Living Arts, genocide survivor and musician, said that he has been trying to do fundraising through his music. He aims to enrich the local arts by supporting young geniuses in the country to pursue arts – in whatever form – and be the key towards better understanding not just of the arts, but of the Cambodian identity.

“I understand that it is very tough for students to work and study at the same time. They need to do that to finance their studies and help their families. It’s my big mission to make this project a way to let young, talented people to get financial support to pursue their dreams and not put their talents into waste.”

“So far, all those who have received our scholarships have proven that their passion for the arts did not just help them provide for their families. It is also a significant factor in protecting and preserving traditional arts from generation to generation by implementing projects that help uplift arts. The students have gained countless achievements in their endeavours. In the future, I would expect that they can run the organisation and push for these art forms to be widely known and recognised among the youth. They will not let the arts die because it is an important part of this nation.”

The 2018 and 2019 awardees of Arn Chorn-Pond Scholarship pose for a group photo at the Cambodian Living Arts Theatre. KT/Say Tola

2018 Arn Chorn-Pond Living Scholarship awardee Svay Leemeng, who used his scholarship to study on writing books, scriptwriting and short stories, shared that he was able to write two screenplays, wrote and directed one film on his own and published few short stories and books.

“I am currently writing two stories for films and few books for kids. All that I have today, I can’t thank Cambodian Living Arts enough for providing me the scholarship. Not only knowing myself concretely, I also earned lots of achievements from the scholarship just within two years. I was already able to publish a book, do screenplays. I also gained popularity after I was awarded at the Legacy Film Lab through my Short Hair Women film. This really opened so many opportunities for me,” said Leemeng.

Though he is quite busy with current projects on writing and publishing, Leemeng hopes that he will still be able to discover new things and share his perspectives through literary pieces and videos to young people. He shared that writing is his way of educating people and young children to become good people or leaders in the future.

Coming from Ratanakiri province, Mak Chantha, 2019 Arn Chorn-Pond Living Scholarship awardee, shared after her traditional indigenous performance that she is really excited to get the scholarship award. She will be able to study dance, a dream she had since she was young.

“I have dreamt to become a good dancer since forever, but I thought I could not chase this dream since my family is in a tough condition. My parents can’t afford to send me to a dance school. Luckily, I heard one good news from CLA which is this scholarship. It will change my life,” said Chantha.

After expressing her excitement, Chantha also showed her commitment to becoming a good dancer on both contemporary and traditional genres. Her scholarship will only be for a year, but she said that it will be enough to gain right knowledge. She promised that she will come back to her province after she graduates and train the younger generation about Cambodian dances.

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