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Performance a rallying cry for youth to support Khmer arts

Say Tola / Khmer Times Share:
The Music Through Ages performance at the National Museum. KT/Srey Kumneth

Aiming to promote the appreciation of traditional Khmer art forms, and to encourage young people to help preserve their culture, Cambodian Living Arts organised the “Music Through Ages” performance at the National Museum last week.

Young volunteers from the Reeksai group helped design posters, sell tickets and market the event, according to Yon Sokhorn, senior programme coordinator for arts development at Cambodian Living Arts.

“The performance was organised to allow artists to display their talent and creativity,” Ms Sokhorn said.

Ms Sokhorn said she had noticed that people nowadays were more willing to support the traditional arts financially, agreeing to pay $3 to $5 to come and support a performance. Importantly, she said, the recent event allowed audience members to ask the artists questions at the end.

Nhan Sonnthicni Elizabeth, 20, a student of Department of French, IFL who helped to organise the event said she volunteered her time to help stage many events because she wanted to promote traditional Khmer culture.

“I think artists need support. If we don’t support them, our culture will disappear,” Ms Elizabeth said.

She urged people not to neglect traditional Khmer arts when deciding what to spend their money on. Although tickets to Khmer arts performances are generally cheap, the shows often draw small crowds, while many people line up to pay for expensive movie tickets, she said. She urged people to support them equally.

Soth Peosamnang, 21, an archaeology student at Royal University of Fine Arts, said he made a point of seeing every traditional Khmer art performance he could. He said he wanted to observe how amazing Khmer art is and also to promote it in order to preserve all the art forms on display at the event.

Mr Peosamnang said, “Despite the hard work of institutions like CLA, Amrita, and others, the traditional arts are still not thriving. They cannot survive unless people support them. Importantly, I see there is less participation from young people. This means that all traditional Khmer art forms are in danger of disappearing”.

He said that while watching the performances he was moved almost to tears, realising that there are so few people who can perform and preserve the identity of Khmer culture. Mr Peosamnang does all he can to support and encourage young traditional artists.

He said that Cambodian youth should study and support Khmer culture, because foreign youth cannot do it for them. Moreover, he recommended they follow the Facebook pages of all organisations promoting traditional Khmer arts, like Cambodian Living Arts, Amrita performing arts, and the Reeksai group.

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