Network development and Grantmaking/Program Support are the two main areas of activity.
Cambodian Artists Project Network Development is an area that builds professional skills, facilitates information sharing, and supports transnational artistic communities in Cambodia and in the United States. Network Development is formally comprised of a series of convenings and conferences, but also is a system that encourages ongoing communication between individuals, organizations, and communities in the U.S., Asia, and beyond.
In Cambodia and in the U.S., Network Development activities consist of annual meetings and conferences in which the following activities are planned:
- Professional Development: workshops on proposal writing, documentation, partnership development and other topics may be addressed.
- Creative Exchange: studio time with choreographers, puppeteers, dramatists, and others may lead to exchanges on how work is conceived, made, and presented.
- Demonstrations and Performances: Completed work or work in progress, with particular interest in projects that have received CAP grants, will be presented during the conference.
Cambodia Network Development Current Activity
Each February, trustees, administrators, grantees, and participants of the Cambodian Artists Project will convene at the Royal University of Fine Arts and other locations to engage in workshops, discussions, demonstrations, and showcases by artists, practitioners, and leaders. Over the course of three years, the annual meeting will develop in size and complexity. In the first year (2004), core participants will come from RUFA (Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh) and community-based organizations. In the second year, participation will expand to include artists, cultural leaders, and administrators from the Mekong region. In the third year, participation will expand to include international representatives.
US Network Development Current Activity
Regional meetings will be focused on the work of traditional performing
arts practitioners from Asian cultures. Meetings are anticipated in California for West Coast participants (working with the Fund for Folk Culture) and in New England for participants east of the Mississippi. Similar to the Cambodia activity, meetings and conferences will occur in the U.S. over the next two years, which will combine with the international conference mentioned above in the third year.
Grant making/Program Support
Information about grant programs supporting activity ranging from cross-disciplinary collaboration to traditional and contemporary performance to international exchange is in development and will be publicly available later this year.
NEFA has a longstanding history of working with Cambodian artists in the United States and Cambodia. Beginning in the early 1990s, NEFA and its partners began a series of Cambodian artist residencies.
Fall 2000: Origins: Cambodian residencies in the US
In the September 2000 residency project, under the artistic direction of Sam-Ang Sam, fourteen Cambodian dancers and musicians were hosted by:
- Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Becket, Massachusetts
- Center for Cultural Exchange, Portland, Maine
- University of Maryland and the Cambodian American Heritage, College Park, Maryland
- United Cambodian Community in Long Beach, California.
By October NEFA had received significant feedback and interest from the field confirming the practicality and value for the major US tour of Cambodian music and dance. The important connections Cambodian masters made with their US counterparts are invaluable. These connections firmly lay the groundwork for our program to conserve and further the art forms being restored and taught at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh and in Cambodian American communities in the United States.
2001: National Tour of Dance, the Spirit of Cambodia
In the summer and fall of 2001, NEFA presented Dance, the Spirit of Cambodia, the first formal U.S. tour of Cambodian dance and music in over a decade. Forty master dancers and musicians from RUFA toured to twelve U.S. cities, and offered a rare opportunity for communities around the country to experience and learn about Cambodia’s honored art forms.
The tour also provided the chance for NEFA to strengthen its relationship-building efforts between the U.S. and Cambodia in order to insure the ongoing vitality of Cambodian culture. Presenters, colleges and universities, and community-based organizations became invested in the project through interaction with the artists and outreach efforts. A new model for international arts presentation was designed and implemented through the tour.
The Cambodian Artists Project hosted the following convenings:
- Cambodia in March 2002
- Lowell, Massachusetts in late September 2002
- Long Beach, California in early October 2002.
Program participants, key partners, and project collaborators met with a documentation team to help analyze the project and to begin developing print and electronic materials that will be used to present the project as a model of international work. Additionally, preliminary plans were laid for how U.S. and Cambodian project partners can help continue the project's mission to preserve and document the work of Cambodian performance art traditions over the next ten years.
October 2003: Recent Work
A late October/early November trip to Phnom Penh by NEFA was designed to implement the next phase of the Cambodian Artists Project at RUFA. This trip formally established NEFA’s commitment to working in the region for the next three years.
The goal of this phase of the Cambodian Artists Project is to conserve, document, and strengthen the arts and culture of Khmer communities in Cambodia and in the United States. The activity took place over two weeks in Phnom Penh (October 27-November 8, 2003) and was led by Judilee Reed, NEFA working with PROEUNG Chhieng, RUFA, Fred Frumberg and SUON Bunrith, Amrita Performing Arts, and Dr. Sam-Ang Sam.
NEFA and the representatives of the Joyce Theater, NY; Center for Cultural Exchange, ME; Asia Society, NY; and the Royal Cambodian Embassy, DC; visited RUFA in Phnom Penh, viewed performances, and continued to develop the Cambodian Artists Project at the school.