Phloeun PRIM

Executive Director, Cambodian Living Arts

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“It is very important that young people understand their own culture, but preservation and inheritance alone is not enough; culture is alive.”

A visionary cultural entrepreneur, Phloeun has spearheaded Cambodian Living Arts’ transformation from a grassroots project reviving traditional art forms to a leading cultural organization in Cambodia and the Mekong region. Phloeun joined CLA in 2009 having previously led Artisans Angkor, a Cambodian social enterprise that provides professional skills and opportunities to young Cambodians in rural communities with limited educational opportunities.

Under Phloeun’s leadership, CLA has extended its reach from local to international audiences; expanded its community from the old generation of masters to a new generation of emerging artists and cultural leaders; and evolved its mission from preserving and transmitting endangered art forms to serving as a catalyst in Cambodia’s vibrant arts sector, focusing on innovation and expression.

In Spring 2013, Phloeun served as CEO of the Season of Cambodia Festival, which brought 125 artists to New York City’s stages, screens, galleries, and public spaces. The Festival enlisted 34 presenting partners, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and Lincoln Center, driving international support and attention to the creativity and diversity of cultural expression in Cambodia. In 2017 and 2018, Phloeun oversaw the commission and international tour of Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia, which saw premieres in Melbourne, New York, Boston, and Paris. Bangsokolis the first major symphonic work that addresses the traumas of the late 1970s in Cambodia, and the first collaboration between contemporaries Rithy PANH and HIM Sophy—both survivors of the Khmer Rouge who are now at the forefront of Cambodia’s cultural renaissance. In 2019, Bangsokol was premiered for the first time in Cambodia, which was graced by the presence of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni as Head of State and Distinguished Patron of CLA.

Phloeun regularly presents and participates in global dialogues and international forums on arts and development. Since 2017, Phloeun has taught a curriculum on “Arts for Transformation: The Case of Cambodia” to international students at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). From 2019, the course has been taught at Pannasastra University Cambodia and the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) in Phnom Penh.

Phloeun serves on the boards of Artisans Angkorand Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center, is a member of Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders Network, and sits on the Southeast Asia Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan.

Born during the Cambodian genocide and raised in Montréal, Canada, Phloeun is proud to have returned to Cambodia to be part of the movement to use the arts for healing, social transformation, and economic development. He is passionate about supporting the next generation of leaders in Cambodia’s arts sector, and remains inspired by the early work of CLA to revive the oral transmission of traditional art forms. It is that passing from generation to generation—that human connection to culture—that gives roots to curiosity about identity, and Phloeun sees the arts, expression, and imagination as essential to being human.

Related Media

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Staying Connected Through the Arts [Living Arts Blog]
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Opinion: Finding My Family’s Story in ‘First They Killed My Father’ [Cambodia Daily]
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Phloeun Prim on Carrying Traditions Through Difficult Times [Asia Society]
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Students get a look at how the arts transform Cambodian society [Khmer Times]
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Meet a Next-Generation Social Entrepreneur, Who Is Leading the Cultural Sector in Southeast Asia – An Interview with Phloeun Prim [Japan Foundation Asia Center]
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Phloeun Prim: “Focusing on the Young Cultural Innovators is Creating the Hope” [Salzburg Global Seminar]
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Phloeun Prim: Transformation of a Nation Through the Arts [TEDxPhnomPehn]

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