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New Program Helps Artists Be Entrepreneurs


Mao Phoeung, a Cambodian music master, plays traditional circular gongs at his home in Phnom Penh, file photo. Mao Phoeung's teachings are funded by the Cambodian Living Arts program, part of an effort by the Cambodian-American group to breath new life in

Mao Phoeung, a Cambodian music master, plays traditional circular gongs at his home in Phnom Penh, file photo. Mao Phoeung's teachings are funded by the Cambodian Living Arts program, part of an effort by the Cambodian-American group to breath new life in

Often underpaid and undervalued, there are not many artists devoted to preserving Khmer cultural values through arts these days.

Often underpaid and undervalued, there are not many artists devoted to preserving Khmer cultural values through arts these days. To cope with this hurdle, an art organization has designed a program to help artists establish their own enterprises.

In Cambodia, many artists strive to play their role in preserving and promoting Khmer cultural values while grappling with low pay, while at times their work is undervalued.

Cambodian Living Arts, one of the leading art organizations in Cambodia, has designed a program to help artists become independent, Chhuon Sarin, CLA’s program manager, told VOA Khmer.

“Our mission is not only to instill artistic skills in artists, but also to provide necessary skills such as leadership, management, communication and marketing, to allow artists to be independent,” he said.

Performers often lack soft skills that allow them to manage group finances, market artistic work, and communicate with clients, Chuon Sarin said.

CLA’s program aims at strategically assisting artists in running their own sustainable business, something that is lacking in the country, he said. That way they do not have to affiliate with an organization or company in order to perform and profit.

But for some young artists, like Chhem Srey Ny, profit is not yet a concern. She’s a student and a young artist in poetry chanting, or smot, who has received a scholarship from CLA. Although smot is commonly misunderstood and undervalued by friends and people in her community, Srey Ny said she now can perform in public and teach the art form to younger students.

For now, that’s enough. “It is my passion that drives me to become an artist,” she said.

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