LIVING ARTS BLOG: Cambodia’s Dynamic Young Leaders: The Living Arts Fellows


27 April 2020 | Danielle KHLEANG

“After completing this program, I realized that I was a cultural leader. I was not aware of myself in that way before.”

We are pleased to share Creating a Transformative Environment for Positive Change,” a 5-year review of our  Living Arts Fellows Program. Independently conducted by HEM Vanarath and KUON Lyna with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the review described the program as “remarkably effective” and found the program empowered fellows to make significant positive impacts on their sectors and communities by using the arts to effect change.

Throughout the program, fellows are encouraged to voice their opinions, debate ideas and analyze their own work in the arts and culture sector. The review found this developed fellows’ critical thinking, imagination, public speaking and program design skills.

Alumni didn’t keep the transformational fellowship to themselves. Once they returned to their communities, they made a point to share their learnings on the intersection of arts and societal issues with the next generation; in turn, inspiring young people to engage with the arts. 

“This program has encouraged my spirit to take responsibility for social issues and to take part in solving social problems. In the past, I didn’t think much about how our work could contribute to dealing with social issues but after participating in this program, I saw a lot of opportunities where I could use the arts to help society.”

“We know that many leaders and policymakers may not want to see us and may not want to hear our problems when we ask them for a meeting to discuss… our problems. However, if we invite them to see a performance or art show, many of them definitely like to come. That is an opportunity where we can capture their attention… and inform them about our community concerns or social issues.”

The Living Arts Fellowship enables emerging leaders to nurture their vision and values by critically reflecting on Value, Influence, Sustainability and Leadership in the arts; while exposing them to global practices. This allows the fellows to use the transformative power of the arts to shape the impact of their careers and inspire others to do the same.


Working across fields as diverse as publishing, heritage management and inclusive arts, we are thrilled about the unique talents each brings to the program. The 2020 fellows are



Milya is an event organizer currently working for the Japan Foundation Asia Center, Phnom Penh Liaison office. She has been involved with Arts and Cultural Exchange in a variety of genres such as Performance Arts, Visual Arts, Film/Moving Image, Music, Sport, Grassroots and Intellectual Exchange which connect her to Artists from different backgrounds. She is also a representative forMekong Cultural Hub, the sister organization of CLA, where she builds networks with artists and the arts community. She believes that the arts have the power to change the world.



Valy is the Chief of the Heritage Division, Kompong Thom Provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts. From 2015-2017, he joined the Sambor Prei Kuk Conversation Project under the collaboration of Waseda University. Since 2015, he has lectured on “Culture and Heritage” under the Heritage Education Project. He has also worked with the Director of Culture and Fine Arts in Kompong Thom Province to establish 8 voluntary arts groups (2 from ethnic minority communities) to promote cultural awareness and moral education through dance and theater. He is an Advisor for the Foundation of Smiles, in charge of Khmer culture and arts activities. MANG Valy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the Royal University of Fine Arts.


CHUMVAN Sodhachivy (Belle)

Sodhachivy (Belle) is a contemporary dancer, choreographer, and lecture​r in Classical Dance at the Faculty of Choreography of Royal University of Fine Arts. Belle has been a featured dancer in works led by Emmanuèle Phuon, Peter Chin, Arco Renz, Peter Sellars, and other renowned choreographers. Belle joined the production of The Bangsokol – A Requiem for Cambodia as both a Performer and Assistant Stage Director for its premieres in Melbourne, New York, and Boston. Belle also performed in See You Yesterday, a contemporary piece mixing circus, comedy, and dance, created in collaboration with Phare Ponleu Selpak Association and Global Arts Corps, a U.S.-based NGO advocating arts to heal the wounds and trauma of war. Belle is a founder of SilverBell Dance Group of Performing Artists. Belle graduated from the Secondary School of Fine Arts in 2003 and 2007 from the Royal University of Fine Arts.


PO Sakun

Sakun has worked with “Epic Arts” for eight years. Being an inclusive arts course leader, he believes in the power of the arts to change people’s perceptions and the impact on individuals’ lives. He is driven by the idea of showing people the advantages of inclusive art, creating new opportunities for creativity and collaboration in dance and theatre. As a dancer and advocate for inclusive arts, Sakun travels locally and internationally to perform, teach and show the maximum potential of individuals with different abilities. He was a project officer and translator for international dance production ‘Buffalo Boy’ in 2018; delivering dance workshops and performances in “Art for All” in Thailand. In 2019, he attended ‘Social Inclusion’ training in Sweden.


KEO Sreypheak

Sreypheak is an independent artist, gallery manager, and art festival organizer trained in contemporary arts. In 2018, she worked as a manager at Sangker Gallery, the only gallery in Battambang where artists are given space to exhibit their works together freely. She envisions Battambang as the artistic center of Cambodia. She will soon start an internship as project manager and young artists development at Sa Sa Art Projects. Pheak also researches and contributes to environmental education on plastic recycling, and conducts workshops for public schools and organizations on arts and environment.


KHUT Sokhoeun

Sokhoeun is a writer and publisher. His short story, ‘Under the Same Sky,’ was awarded by the Sleuk Rith Institution. He is a keen volunteer with other writers to promote reading, writing, and publishing in Cambodia. He co-founded the Mun Teuk Khmao Writer Group and published three short stories as chief of the group from 2018 to 2019. Currently, he is a co-founder of CREATOR Publishing and Distribution House, which focuses on book sales, publishing and consultations. Sokhoeun graduated with a Master of Arts in Development Studies at RUPP in 2011. He also has a Bachelor of Education in TEFL from Build Bright University (2005) and graduated from Prey Veng Regional Teacher Training Center in Pedagogy in 2000.


Read the full review: “Creating a Transformation Environment for Positive Change”

Stay up to date on the 2020 Living Arts Fellows.

Inside Living Arts is a Living Arts Blog series highlighting our initiatives that invigorate a vibrant arts sector for society today and generations to come.

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