Prior to the Khmer Rouge era, Cambodia was rich with culture and arts such as music, dance, theater and film. The arts pulsed through every village, and Cambodians thrived in artistic, cultural expression. Devastatingly, during the Khmer Rouge regime many of these artistic souls were lost. Today, few of the artists who survived make a living by performing or teaching. Today, Cambodian students have little opportunity to access creativity.
In 2012, a group of Peace Corps Cambodia Volunteers started The Create Cambodia Arts Festival to bring together Cambodian students, educators, and professional artists to celebrate and encourage the creative capacities of Cambodia youth. Create Cambodia programming begins in Cambodian villages in the form of student arts clubs. The club members work and create together in their specific art discipline and prepare to perform in their own community as well as at Create Cambodia's Student Showcase.
This year, for the first time, Countryside Class joined with Peace Corps to bring 10 artists to the festival. Our students were able to join with student performers from 10 other Cambodian provinces to watch professional performances from Khmer Arts, Epic Arts, and Phnom Penh International Institute of the Arts. They were able to join workshops put on by Phnom Penh International Institute of the Arts, Cambodian Living Arts, Colors of Cambodia, Epic Arts, and Skateistan Cambodia.
On the final day of the festival, our students were able to show off their own skills by performing the traditional Khmer dances of the Coconut Dance and the Wishing Dance. They were also able to watch dances, songs, and plays put on by students from around the country. Our students went back to Battambang energized and inspired to continue studying their dances as well as to branch out into other forms of art!
Thanks to Peace Corps Cambodia for this wonderful opportunity!