Cambodian Children’s Fund offers grants to back local artistic ventures

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The Cata:list aims to help kick-start programmes for the arts and initiate activities focused on cultural and arts education and artistic development . Photo supplied

The Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) rolled out its second year of giving grants aimed at developing talent under its Cambodian Arts Training Awards: Launching Innovation, Style and Talent (Cata:list).

Five young artists have been selected to receive the grants of $3,000 each.

“The five were chosen based on who would benefit most from the awards. Applications were open to artists in the Kingdom,” said the CCF.

Cata:list was established to help kick-start programmes for the arts and initiate activities focused on cultural and arts education and artistic development.

This year also saw CCF’s first partnership with Support Her Enterprise (She) Investments, a social enterprise that supports women entrepreneurs in Cambodia.

“As someone present during the workshops provided by She Investments for young artists who have the potential to rise in the art scene, I am really glad they could receive such opportunities where they can realise their dreams and endeavours to promote Khmer art,” says CCF Art Coordinator Thyda Men.

“I wish all the artists success.”

Sreyleak Hout, the programme manager for She Investments, says: “We enjoyed seeing the smiles on their faces. They have all faced challenges in their career yet they have not given up.”

Each artist was offered three months of workshops focusing on business development – touching on areas such as marketing and financial literacy.

Sokim Keat, one of the five recipients, is a music teacher and the founder of Friends’ Music School in the capital. His dream is to publish 500 copies of a music book about the tro ou, a traditional bowed stringed instrument made from coconut husk.

He hopes the book will be an important resource for the next generation of music lovers and players who wish to perform in the theatre.

“I am really happy [I was selected]. My dream to promote Khmer traditional art by publishing a music book can soon become a reality. I’d like to thank the CCF for giving me this opportunity,” he says.

Another recipient, Boly Ren, a singer-songwriter who goes by the stage name “BENT LY,” aims to record all of his songs and have them mixed at a professional music studio.

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Musician Boly Ren, also known as ‘BENT LY’, says the Cata:list grant has given him the financial boost he needed to realise his ambitions. Photo supplied

He also plans on hiring a music video director to produce videos for his songs. His album, A Wretched Timeline (EP) will be promoted on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.

Ren says the Cata:list grant had given him the financial boost he needed to realise his ambitions. He also sent his appreciation to She Investments for supporting his career plans.

“The workshop showed me that there are so many more things that I need to learn and know especially on the business side. Before this, I focused more on the art, but the workshop made me see another perspective. It has helped me create a business plan to attain my goals,” he says.

Chheng Heang Chive, a singer-songwriter, is also one of the fortunate recipients who is on a mission to progress in her career and share her music with a wider audience in Cambodia.

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Singer-songwriter Chheng Heang Chive, one of the grant recipients, plans to reach a wider audience in the Kingdom with her music. Photo supplied

The last two recipients are Chivorn Lorn and the band Doch Chkae.

Lorn, an artist professionally known as G1, is working on launching a website and developing a marketing plan to fully promote his drawings.

He says he started his artistic career by drawing on dried mud with a stick as his family could not afford to buy him proper drawing materials.

Doch Chkae, meanwhile, is a notorious death metal band that hailed from the slums of the capital’s Stung Meanchey. The band’s name, which means “like a dog” when translated, mirrors how society perceives children of the dumpsite.

The band plans to run a music workshop for out-of-school youths who grapple with stress and aggression. They believe that through music, the workshop’s students will be able to work through their issues.

Cata:list is a competitive grant-giving programme that annually provides each of its recipients with a seed grant of $3,000 to sustain the recipients’ projects.

“We believe this is a reasonable budget for small art projects that would be implemented in Cambodia over one year. The proposed project must have been implemented from September 1, last year, and completed by August 31,” says CCF.

CCF was founded by Scottish-Australian film executive Scott Neeson, who spent a decade as the president of the film corporation, 20th Century Fox International.

A year after visiting the Stung Meanchey dumpsite in Phnom Penh in 2003, Neeson decided to relocate to the Kingdom and establish the CCF.

“Cambodian youths in this community are mostly poverty-stricken and hungry for education. We provide them with the necessary learning materials so they would receive a proper and quality education that would serve as their ticket to entering universities.

“We hope this opportunity would help them lift their families from poverty,” says Neeson.

CCF is a registered not-for-profit organisation that works on the vision of lifting the community of the former Stung Meanchey landfill from poverty and bringing them into a new era of hope and possibility through improved access to education.