LIVING ARTS BLOG: Sustainability in the Arts Lab


7 October 2020 | By KEAT Sokim, Danielle KHLEANG and SO Phina

Hosted by Batia Sarem Gallery, the 2020 Living Arts Fellows convened in Siem Reap to explore sustainability in the arts with mentors Luckana KUNAVICHAYANONT – Art Consultant and Former Director of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Naveen KISHORE – Founder of Seagull Foundation for the Arts,and  Jia-Ping LEE – Founder of the placemaking consulting firm Tempatico which strengthens human-centric approaches to urban, corporate and cultural places.

Over the three-day lab, the fellows bridged theoretical and practical inquiries into sustainability in the arts through workshops, group discussions and networking programs with the all women drum troupe, Medha and Phare: The Cambodian Circus. Throughout, the fellows were asked to evaluate examples from around Asia, both personal and institutional, on sustainability in the arts to strengthen their approaches to building longevity in the arts, as well as analytically consider the pros and cons of different models.

While what transpired was a serious investigation of the strategies that sustain a vital arts sector in Cambodia, we compiled this photo essay to show that sustainability is powered by more than quantitative models. A vital and sustainable arts sector is built by human to human relationships that produce a collaborative arts ecosystem. Put simply, community supports and sustains long-lasting creative success. Please enjoy this snapshot of the conversations and moments from the third 2020 Living Arts Lab: Sustainability in the Arts.


“Arts are for the community and community is for the arts. It’s how sustainability in the arts and the community are symbiotic. An arts leader should be engaged in making policies and other actions to support arts and artists in a way that cultivates passion and value among our wider communities.”

KHUT Sokhoeun, Writer + Co-Founder Mun Teuk Khmao Writer Group



“Before I thought sustainability in the arts referred to only financial sustainability but now, I learned it’s much more than financial.”

KEO Sreypheak, Independent Arts Organizer



“I was inspired by our mentor, Luckana, during this lab. It’s better to take time, to discuss and develop ideas slowly so we, as artists and arts leaders can figure out what we want to do and how we want to do it. Building strong foundations by developing the vision, mission and strategy is something I’ll take away from this lab to strengthen my approach to sustainability in the arts.”

BORNNOEM Milya, Event Organizer Japan Foundation Asia Center Phnom Penh & Mekong Cultural Hub Representative



“The lab opened my mind. I can apply this knowledge to the foundations of my work to be more sustainable. Knowing other fellows with different backgrounds and mentors helps us reflect on ourselves and our own practices. Learning from each other contributes to our mission to build sustainability in the arts.”

CHUMVAN “Belle” Sodhachivy, Contemporary Choreographer, Dancer and Lecturer in Classical Dance at the Royal University of Fine Arts



“The lab was an opportunity to think more deeply about collaborating with existing international and local networks to support our long-term work. Being an arts leader, one of my main responsibilities is finding sustainable methods to support our programs, including exploring partnership with public or private sector organizations that have the same mission and values.”

PO Sakun, Inclusive Arts Leader Epic Arts



“If we want to go far we can’t go alone. As a community we have to connect with each other to support the sustainability of the arts. We should be collaborative.”

MANG Valy, Chief of the Heritage Division Kompong Thom Provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts



“It was great to see the fellows and mentors exchanging ideas. The mentors’ personal experiences brought unique views related to sustainability in the arts for our fellows to reflect on their own work.”

SO Phina, Knowledge Networks and Policy Manager Cambodian Living Arts


The 2020 Living Arts Fellows program is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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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