Contemporary Arts Making and Creative Expression Among Young Cambodians

Contemporary Arts Making and Creative Expression Among Young Cambodians is a Phase 2 Large Grant Project. 

This project analyses the contemporary expressions of young Cambodian artists and their relationship to post-conflict identity. It examines how arts NGOs support and shape these activities, and reflects on the challenges they face. These interlinked foci will be achieved by examining the work of one of Cambodia’s leading arts NGOs, Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), through their 2020 Cultural Season. The Season supports young artists from across Cambodia in developing and showcasing new work and encourages young audiences to attend artistic events.

Specifically, the research examined key concerns of young Cambodian artists, traces how this affects their creative process, and analyses how the resulting works are received among their peers. In so doing, it examined the varied relationships young people have to past conflicts and the extent to which these shape creative production. By orienting its focus organisationally, the research examined the role of CLA in developing a post-conflict creative sphere, considers which visions and voices are heard, and discussed how CLA can support contemporary artistic expression.

Methodologically, the project examined the process of selecting, developing, performing and interpreting new works by observing the selection and development process in meetings and rehearsals, and by interviewing artists and CLA employees about their experiences. The content and form of the final works was examined using performance analysis, and their interpretation investigated by undertaking qualitative and quantitative investigation of audience reception through student taster performances, post-show talk backs and surveys.

Watch CELL by Ka Kou, a dance film commissioned by the project and based on the project’s research findings.



On March 3, 2021, Changing the Story and Oxfam welcomed practitioners, researchers, youth, and colleagues to an online discussion on how national and international NGOs can engage in creativity, connection and collective creation with young people. Dr Amanda Rogers (University of Swansea), Reaksmey Yean (Centre for Khmer Studies), and Sokhorn Yon (Cambodian Living Arts) of Changing the Story research project ‘Contemporary Arts Making and Creative Expression among Young Cambodians’, were invited to frame a discussion, drawing on their experience of arts-based research and knowledge of the arts and culture in the Cambodian context. In sharing this summary of the emerging ideas and questions, we aim to provoke further dialogue on how organisations can engage in collective creation with young people.
The Creative Expression and Contemporary Arts Making Among Young Cambodians research project analysed the creative practices and concerns of young adult artists (18-35 years old) in contemporary Cambodia. The project examined the extent to which the arts are being used to open up new ways of enacting Cambodian identity that encompass, but also move beyond, a preoccupation with the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979). Existing research has focused on how the recuperation and revival of traditional performance is linked to the post-genocidal reconstruction of the nation. In contrast, this research examines if, and how, young artists are moving beyond the revival process to create works that speak to a young Cambodian population. Find out more in the project report.

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* Perspectives from ‘Creative Expression among Young Cambodians’ Workshop was originally posted on the Cambodian Living Arts Website (9 July)....


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*This blog was originally posted by Cambodian Living Arts on 30 June 2020 and the original article can be found...


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Phase 2 Large Grant Project Contemporary Arts Making and Creative Expression Among Young Cambodians