Past Projects

December 2015: Researching Young Musicians

Ethnomusicologist Dr. Catherine Grant has worked with us over several years. Her most recent piece of research, conducted over six months in 2015, concerns the socioeconomic concerns of young traditional musicians. 

For this research, Cathy spoke to over 35 musicians, artists and art workers under the age of 30. About 12 of these were formal interviews, where she asked young people to tell her about their lives and their experiences as musicians. She asked four of these young musicians to meet again, to speak in greater detail.

She produced 4 'vignettes' describing these young musicians' stories in their own words; their backgrounds, careers, concerns and aspirations. You can read the stories of Panith, who learned music from his Master Artist grandfather; SreyNy, who aspires to open up her own business singing Smot; Socheat, who put himself through school with his inclome from music; and Davi, the only woman to learn tro khmer in Siem Reap province here.

Archiving Project

Imagine being able to see and hear the work of Cambodian Master Artists, no matter where you live in the world. That is what we made happen with our Archiving Project.

We’ve documented and recorded 15 of the last surviving musicians and 315 songs of 4 endangered Cambodian musical forms: Classical Wedding Music, Smot (poetry chanting), Kantaoming (ancient funeral music) and Areak (animist possession ceremonies’ music) with help from Cambodian Buddhist scholar and archivist Trent Walker.

From April 2012 to January 2013, the CLA team travelled to the homes of these Master Artists to film them performing in their local communities, then invited them to Phnom Penh to record in a professional studio.

CLA produced 5 CDs from these sessions, which include in-depth interviews with the musicians and links to resources to learn more about their work.

CLA also produced 3 full-length documentaries about Smot, Classical Wedding Music and Kantaoming, which were broadcast on Cambodian TV channel CTN in 2013 and 2014.

CLA organized and hosted the exhibition ‘Finding The Lost Art Forms’ from August 27th to October 18th, 2013, to raise awareness about these endangered art forms. Click here to learn more >> 

We hope that these archival-quality audio and audio-visual recordings will preserve these traditional musical forms for future generations.

Amatak Festival

AUGUST 15-17, 2014 – 2-8pm

Royal University of Fine Arts & National Museum of Phnom Penh


The Amatak festival was a CLA initiative to demonstrate that traditional arts can be creative, dynamic and relevant to Cambodian society today. Amatak means "eternal" in the Khmer language.

It was named to represent our ideal of "living" arts, art that is creative and new while at the same time preserving traditional art styles, and also representing our goal of creating self-sustaining infrastructure allowing Cambodian arts to propagate and continue into the future. As a successor to our Cambodian Youth Arts Festival (CYAF), the Amatak festival shared the same goals of encouraging youth to discover and gain experience with the arts. 

In total there were:

  • 8 workshops with 240 participants
  • 3 discussion groups with 70 participants
  • 1500 spectators
  • 10 performing troupes, including classical and folk dance, Yike classical theatre, and all kinds of musical ensembles.

Half of the spectators were attending a Cambodian arts performance for the first time, and ten spectators enquired about learning a traditional art.<o:p></o:p>

Overall, it was a great success and a brilliant way to celebrate 15 years of CLA’s work!

Performing Arts Employment Survey

Between September 2013 and May 2014, Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) conducted and analyzed a survey on training and employment needs on the Cambodian performing arts sector, as we needed a benchmark for our work. In August 2014 we released the findings. This survey, the first of its kind in Cambodia, was partially funded by the European Union.

The survey focused on researching on fees and work policies of performing arts professionals, on their training needs, and on specific barriers that prevent them from developing their careers. 

A representative sample of over 460 arts professionals was surveyed, including artists from theater, music, circus and dance, and other arts professionals such as technicians, managers or other supporting actors. Both urban and rural areas were investigated, including the provinces of Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Takeo, and Kampot.

This survey will be used as a building block in a wider EU-supported project, "Capacity building and professionalization of Cambodian performing arts sector towards a sustainable cultural industry", collaboratively led by Phare Ponleu Selpak, Krousar Thmey, Collectif Clowns d'ici et d'ailleurs, Chantiers-Ecole de Formation Professionnelle, and Cambodian Living Arts between March 2014 and February 2017. The results from this survey will be used by all partners to ensure actions are targeted and effective as they implement the project activities over the coming years.


Partially funded by The European Union

Season of Cambodia

The Season of Cambodia festival, a unique initiative by Cambodian Living Arts, brought over 125 artists from Cambodia to New York City for a major celebration of Cambodian arts, culture, and humanities.

Distinctive works from over 125 master and emerging artists and scholars—in ritual, music, visual art, performance, dance, shadow puppetry, film, and academic forums—were presented by more than 30 of New York’s most renowned arts and educational institutions, marking it an unprecedented city-wide initiative to celebrate one of the world’s most vibrant and evocative cultures.

The festival celebrated Cambodia’s artistic renaissance just one generation after the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979), and reflected how important the arts have been in the country’s transformation.

Season of Cambodia serves as an international platform that not only highlights the extraordinary resilience of the Cambodian nation and its artists, but also helps pave the way for other post-conflict nations seeking renewal through artistic expression.