Starting with the Masters Teaching Program in 1998, CLA has gradually built a model of effective community-based arts education in Cambodia that employs Cambodia’s oldest generation of master artists to teach youth who learn not only the art form but also important life skills. Our students benefit from increased educational and employment opportunities, and from a strong sense of cultural identity. Beyond performing arts classes our Arts Education Program encompasses English language classes, computer proficiency training and scholarship opportunities.
In 1998, Arn Chorn-Pond founded CLA with a sole focus on the Cambodian Masters Performing Program – the original incarnation of CLA’s current Masters Teaching program. The program was created with the goals of passing the living arts on to the next generation, both in order to allow students to achieve defined core competencies in their chosen skill and to preserve and raise awareness of traditional Cambodian Arts. Furthermore, it honors recognized Master Artists, demonstrating a value in their knowledge as well as providing them with the ability to earn a living through their art. Initially, CLA offered only three classes in three locations – Mohaori music in Phnom Penh, classical wedding music in Battambang, and Bassac opera in Banteay Meanchey. Today, the Masters Teaching program consists of 16 classes held in eight provinces, with a total of roughly 300 students. We have recently added defined curricula to our classes, as well as holding graduation ceremonies. These demonstrate our work towards making these classes as organized and beneficial as possible.
Cambodia’s ancient art forms are oral traditions that have been passed down from teacher to student over hundreds (or thousands) of years; no comprehensive training manuals currently exist in writing. Over the next five years, CLA will begin to compile and codify our master artists’ teaching techniques in order to create comprehensive curricula and ensure the continued preservation and teaching of Cambodia’s traditional art forms. The process with be done in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and other arts partners.
CLA works with artists and arts organizations to connect them with professional development and technical assistance opportunities and strengthen Cambodia’s artistic infrastructure.
This new program, started in 2011, is beginning by assessing the needs of artists and arts organizations, which will inform how this program develops and addresses capacity building needs. As in many places around the world today, speaking English is a huge advantage and computer proficiency is a must. In recognition of this, we started helping our students receive English lessons and computer literacy training. For these low-income youth, access to the internet and computers is a key piece of their education that is not being provided at home or at school. These supplemental classes will help them pursue advanced degrees, competitive careers and reach their full artistic and individual potential. Sponsored by the Cambodian Children’s Education Fund, this program increases the capacity of the participating youth.
In addition to classes, CLA offers workshops led by national and international artists. Music workshops include collaborations with the UK-based organization Incidental, Java, the Royal University of Fine Arts, and CLA to create a fusion of contemporary electronic music and traditional Khmer music, as well as a workshop with Boston-based folk band Earth String Band, resulting in a concert held outside the Phnom Penh CLA office. For the dance department, CLA collaborated with the French contemporary dance company L’Oiseau Tonnerre, and created a show inspired by traditional Cambodian dances featuring French and Cambodian performers. Robert McQueen, a North American opera director, dramaturge and teacher held creative workshops with CLA Yike students aimed at laying the foundation for the creation of a contemporary play rooted in the Yike Opera tradition.
CLA also offers training opportunities for arts leaders, as part of its Creative Leaders program. Click here to learn more.
COMMUNITY ARTS OUTREACH
Established in 2009, our Community Arts Outreach program first employed five of our most advanced students to begin teaching new classes with a community partner. These young teachers have been developing their teaching skills and making it possible for us to offer arts education to additional students. Since then we expanded the Community Arts Outreach model to 4 additional communities, reaching 200 young people in pagodas, orphanages and schools. We are working with these communities so that in a near future, they will develop their own arts and cultural programs.
On February 16, 2012, as part of its Community Arts Outreach Program, CLA organized its first-ever demonstration in an external community, in order to raise awareness about traditional arts amongst Cambodian youth. CLA students from Classical Wedding Music and Kantaoming (funeral music) classes performed and presented an array of traditional Cambodian art forms to 8 teachers and 222 very enthusiastic young students at the Krosaing Roloeung Primary School near Wat Atwea, Siem Reap Province, in Northwestern Cambodia. As a result of this successful event, 60 students from the school have expressed interest in learning Classical and Folk Dance, and Pin Peat – a music ensemble that accompanies ceremonies and plays. Based on this new demand, CLA is creating two new classes at the Krosaing Roloeung School. Emerging artists from CLA’s Classical and Folk Dance class in Phnom Penh, as well as a CLA student in the Large Shadow Puppetry class in Siem Reap who has learned how to play instruments of the Pin Peat orchestra, will become peer teachers to these eager children. This opportunity will enable them to continue the work that CLA started in 1998 by passing on the knowledge they received from their elderly masters on to younger generations. It is also a way for the peer teachers to earn a living from their art. CLA has also offered to donate a set of instruments and costumes to the school. We are hoping to organize more demonstrations and reach more Cambodian youth!
ARN CHORN-POND LIVING ARTS SCHOLARSHIPS
These scholarships make it possible for exceptionally motivated and talented young artists to attend high school, university, or professional development trainings. We believe that investing in the education of these young artists is an essential part of achieving our mission. In Cambodia today, less than half of youth ages 15-19 are in school. That number drops to less than 10% for ages 20-24. Disparity between boys and girls is significant, with less than 6% of young women ages 20-24 pursuing education. We seek to help our young artists stay in school and pursue advanced education. By assisting our brightest and most talented artists, especially women, we are ensuring the future of the Cambodian arts and helping to create the next generation of arts educators and leaders.
In 2011, scholarships were presented to six students – four for the high school scholarship, one for the university scholarship, and one for the professional development scholarship. As we received over 90 applications this year, we aim to increase the number of scholarships presented in the future.
Cambodian traditional arts students who are good enough and want to become artists can apply until July 31st, 2012, to CLA's scholarships program 2012-2013. The following scholarships are offered: Artistic skills development and Non-artistic skills for artists.
For more information, please contact CLA's Program Coordinator, Solinda EAM, at email@example.com or 017 558 806.