The Cultural Season Programme, initiated by Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) in 2018, is a collection of performances, including art exhibitions, musical performances, workshops, plays, talks, and short documentaries.
Yon Sokhorn, CLA’s director of arts development, noted in a recent interview with The Post that it is actually an annual programme, but the organisation was unable to hold it in 2019 and 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “This means that next year’s event will be our fourth,” she said.
Sokhorn said there are two main purposes of the programme. First, it is a platform to showcase the talents and creative ideas of artists through stories that are relevant to Cambodian society today.
She said most of the works are created by young artists, and his organisation acts as a channel which enables them to have their voices heard.
Second, the programme is a place where artists, culture and arts operators have the opportunity to express and exchange ideas on different topics.
Each year, the programme is held under a different theme, and the CLA encourages all artists to create new works based on the theme and submit them to its “Open Call for New Creations”.
“Every year we have a different theme, which is used to guide the direction of the activities and events in the programme. In 2023, it will be held under the theme “Your Kind, Our Kind”. So all works and discussions will be in line with this topic,” she said.
Sokhorn added that 2023 would be slightly different from previous years. In the past, the organisation designed its own programme, but this time has selected three recipients for “Curatorial Fellowship” scholarships, and they will design and organise the programme.
The main goal of the fellowship is to train the three scholarship recipients in event management skills. They will work with industry leaders as they plan next year’s programme.
“All three scholarship recipients will be responsible for choosing the topics, works and activities that will make up next year’s event. They will also be working with us to promote the programme. They recently took a study tour to Chiang Mai and Bangkok, where they visited local art and cultural sites,” she added.
Serei Vankosaun, one of the three artists who received a scholarship, said the curatorial fellowship programme is not something that had been tried before in Cambodia, but she was getting a lot of training from CLA. There is also a facilitator who guides the work of the trio.
“We spoke with artists in Thailand who organise their own events, and then heard from many experienced event planners in Cambodia. It is really exciting being able to put what we have learned into practice,” she said.
Also an official at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) and a classical artist, Vankosaun explained why she and her group chose the theme “Your Kind, Our Kind”.
She said they first looked at the experiences of those around them – in the art world and in general society – and wanted to raise issues related to different personalities.
“There is a negative mindset in Cambodian society about non-conformist individuals. They are often subject to discrimination both of themselves and of their skills. We believe that this topic will be open for all to participate and share their perspectives. This will be true from the point of view of the artists as well as the audience,” she said.
With this in mind, she encouraged artists to apply for the Open Call for New Creations, saying it would require artists to try new things and experiment with their own skills.
The four works will be selected for performances next February in Phnom Penh and in March in the provinces. Artists can receive up to $5,000 of funding for digital work and $4,000 for live performances.
If an artist has a new idea and wants to present or interpret something related to the theme “Your Kind, Our Kind”, they can summit their application anytime before August 15.
Sokhorn said: “If we look at our context, Cambodian artists are already creative, they just lack of funding to turn some of their ideas into reality. Instead of looking for existing works, we strive to encourage artists to create new works that are in line with our theme.”