Developing Mobile Apps for Young Audience Participation in Cambodia

Audience members completing a questionnaire. Photo Credit: Amanda Rogers and Cambodia Living Arts

The aim of this project is to design an interactive mobile app that can be used to engage young audiences in Cambodian performing arts. It is commonly assumed that arts audiences in Cambodia are mostly foreigners, but our previous research collaboration on the Changing the Story project “Creative Expression and Contemporary Arts Making Among Young Cambodians” challenged these assumptions, highlighting that there is a young Cambodian audience who are interested in the arts but do not necessarily have a complete awareness of the cultural forms they are watching. The project attempts to gain a more complete picture of Cambodian arts audiences, and to consider how best they might be served in order to ensure the sustainability of Cambodian arts for the next generation.

As such, the aim of the app is to:

1. Work as a sustainable means of gathering audience data to track the extent of youth participation in the arts.

2. Be capable of sharing information with young audiences about performances that they see, ranging from information about the artists, to the art forms and the piece itself. Our earlier research showed young people want and need this information in order to meaningfully participate in Cambodian arts and culture.

3. Allow audiences to engage with art works in real time. This may include sharing reactions, responding to questions raised in the work, or asking questions themselves.

We will road test the app with young artists and audiences during the Cambodia Living Arts (CLA) 2022 Cultural Season Action Today: Consequences Tomorrow held in Phnom Penh and then toured across Cambodia in Jan-Mar 2022. The findings from the research project will feed into our new two-year research project on Civic Participation through the Arts in Cambodia. This project is itself part of a larger program of activities presented to SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) by CLA, which goes by the same name. This will involve young people taking ownership of the design, curation, programming and production of a festival, exploring the tensions between CLA programming of artistic content, and young people’s interests and concerns.