Lights go up on Art Street
Artists and students evicted from their homes and studios in the dilapidated community of Tonle Bassac received encouraging news on March 19 as Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) celebrated the inauguration of a new artist community tentatively called "Art Street."
"Today marks a happy ending for our students and master musicians," said Charley Todd, senior project adviser and co-president of the board of directors. He said that for months the group has been effectively homeless and struggling to find funding for a new center.
Since 2001, CLA has operated in cramped facilities used as classrooms for dance, theater and music rehearsals. The new place has four times the space of the old, and comes equipped with a resource center filled with books and computers and a state-of-the-art sound and video studio.
CLA's manpower has grown as well. The non-profit group now employs six full-time staff, and has 40 musicians and 250 students who receive monthly stipends for school and supplies.
"I'm proud to be at the grand opening of CLA," said Silong Chhun, 27, a visiting Khmer-American artist from Seattle and music producer of Long Beach-based Mujestic Records. "This is a symbol of progression and new hope for Cambodian arts."
The initial two years of operation for the new center was secured through donors in Canada and England, but challenges loom in the distance. According to Todd, CLA hopes Art Street will become an arts community of residences, galleries and performance areas.
CLA was founded in 1998 by Khmer-American Arn Chorn-Pond to preserve traditional Cambodian arts.