SEASON OF CAMBODIA Festival Lights Up New York City's Cultural Scene, April-May 2013
New York City will host more than 125 artists from Cambodia for a major celebration of Cambodian arts, culture, and humanities when Season of Cambodia lights up the city's cultural landscape in April and May 2013. Distinctive works from master and emerging artists and scholars-in ritual, music, visual arts, performance, dance, shadow puppetry, film, and academic forums-will be presented by 30 of New York's most renowned arts and educational institutions, marking an unprecedented city-wide partnership initiative to celebrate one of the world's most vibrant and evocative cultures.
Season of Cambodia will run from today, April 6 to Friday May 31, 2013, with opening ceremonies scheduled to coincide with Cambodian New Year on Saturday, April 13. Leading cultural and educational institutions as varied as Asia Society, BAM, Works & Process at the Guggenheim, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Parsons The New School for Design, Mark Morris Dance Group and Arts Brookfield will participate in Season of Cambodia.
This historic collaboration featuring pioneering artists and organizations from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap comes at a critical moment in Cambodia's artistic revival. Only one generation ago the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) set out to eliminate the artists and intellectuals who comprised Cambodia's flourishing artistic community; as many as 90 percent of them died. As a "living arts" festival, Season of Cambodia will serve as an international platform that not only promotes opportunities for cultural and artistic expression in a country where half of the population is under the age of 25, but also helps pave the way for long-term partnerships between members of Cambodia's burgeoning arts community and pre-eminent artists and cultural institutions in New York City.
Season of Cambodia is an initiative of Cambodian Living Arts, a non-profit organization based in Phnom Penh and the U.S. founded in 1998 by artist and Khmer Rouge survivor Arn Chorn-Pond. Once focused on the critical task of preserving endangered artists and traditional art forms in the country, Cambodian Living Arts today collaborates with Cambodian artists and organizations, serving as a catalyst to help develop and foster arts in Cambodia.
"When I first returned to Cambodia in the 90's after the Paris Peace Accord, my friends and I were finding master teachers living on the streets- poor, weak, without food and basic health care," said Chorn-Pond, whose efforts to preserve his country's oral traditions have been chronicled in the PBS documentary The Flute Player and in the recent book, Never Fall Down (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins Publishers), which was recently nominated for a National Book Award. "The work that Cambodian Living Arts and so many other partner arts organizations have done over the past 20 years has been to rescue and preserve the traditions of these great masters, to pass on the art forms, and to train the younger generations so that Cambodian arts and culture can continue to thrive."
"Moving forward from the initial urgencies of rescuing and preserving Cambodian arts," Phloeun Prim, the Executive Director of Cambodian Living Arts and Season of Cambodia says, "we're now engaging with some of the most important and pioneering arts organizations in Cambodia. The energy and commitment of our partners on both sides of the world has been simply overwhelming, and I look forward to this truly international collaboration which is sure to have long term impact on the growth and development of the arts in Cambodia for generations to come."