18.01.2013 -

UNESCO Cambodia Inaugurates the Indigenous Cultural Center in Ratanakiri Province

@UNESCO/Chanthul Suos - The Minister of Culture and Fine Arts and UNESCO Representative Views the Exhibition at the Cultural Center

On December 18, 2012, the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts and UNESCO inaugurated the Ratanakiri Cultural Center. This is the first ethnological center in Cambodia, promoting the identity of the Indigenous People living in Ratanakiri province which represents the majority of ethnic groups still living in Cambodia. This center has been created to serve as a multi-purpose space for indigenous cultural events, exhibitions, craft fairs, workshops and gatherings. At the opening ceremony, the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts remarked that the center represented “an exceptional opportunity to combine cultural facilities with a strong indigenous character and identity, linked with local socioeconomic needs.”

Many indigenous communities joined the inauguration ceremony and expressed their hopes that the center will promote indigenous culture, strengthen community ties, and improve their standard of living. Ms. Youl Lol, a Tumpoun villager in La En Kren village, said, “I hope that this center can preserve our indigenous culture and traditions. I also hope that it will develop gradually for the future success for everyone here. I expect that my villagers will get the chance to visit here to share about their world and learn more about the outside world, so that they can improve their quality of lives.”

The Center has delicately interwoven aspects of the indigenous sensibilities and life into the physical design of the building. To meet the cultural specificities and the needs of the inhabitants, representatives of indigenous communities and local actors were involved throughout the process. “Inspired by the vernacular architecture, the center has been elaborated according to sustainable development principles. It has been equipped with a solar panel and natural ventilation, and decorated with local handicrafts” said Mr. Andeol Cadin, the architect of the building. The center will also be surrounded by a botanical garden and an arboretum of endemic flora.

This center was conceived within the framework of the Creative Industries Support Programme (funded by the Spain-UN Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund – MDG-F) which has been implemented for three years in four provinces, namely Kompong Thom, Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri. The general objective of the programme was to improve Indigenous People’s livelihood and safeguard their traditions through cultural entrepreneurship and enhancement. Mr. Blaise Kilian, the MDG-F Joint Programme Coordinator, said, “The Ratanakiri Cultural Center offers the first permanent ethnographic exhibition to be displayed in  Cambodia, which was designed in collaboration with the project’s partners Artisans Association of Cambodia and Wat Than Artisans.” The inauguration of the Center demonstrates the continued efforts among UNESCO and its partners towards the protection and promotion of indigenous peoples’ culture and development. “This challenging programme contributed to promote cultural diversity and demonstrated that culture can be a driving force for sustainable development,” said Ms. Anne Lemaistre, UNESCO Representative in Cambodia.

For more information, please contact Ms. Jamie Hyo-Jin Lee, UNESCO Communication and Information Unit, at: hj.lee(at)unesco.org

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