UNESCO supports a three-day festival bringing artists to perform in Angkor and Siem Reap to promote Cambodian Intangible Cultural Heritage

Performance of Lkhon Khol (Traditional Monkey Dance) by Apsara Sangvar Pitch Art Group in Chau Say Tevoda Temple in Angkor on 10 December 2021

A three-day festival including the Angkor International Festival of the Arts (AIFA) and cultural events to celebrate Siem Reap, ASEAN city of culture, was jointly organized by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the APSARA National Authority, the Siem Reap Provincial Administration and the Cambodian Arts and Festival Enterprise (CAFE) in Siem Reap and in Angkor from the 10th until the 12th of December 2021 in collaboration with UNESCO. The event commenced with an opening ceremony on the 10th of December in front of the Western Entrance of the Angkor Wat Temple, which was followed by activities including performances, exhibitions, a readers-writers festival and a closing ceremony on the 12th of December in the Royal Independent Gardens in Siem Reap.

The festival aimed to celebrate Siem Reap, ASEAN City of Culture (2020-2022) and to promote Cambodian intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and the creative and cultural industries as drivers for the COVID-19 economic recovery in the region. During the event, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Day was celebrated with the support of UNESCO at the Chau Say Tevoda Temple in Angkor and the Royal Gardens in Siem Reap on the 10th of December 2021. The event included presentations and performances of Phloy (Cambodian traditional music instrument) by Cambodian Living Arts, Chapei Dang Veng (Cambodian traditional music) by Mr. Kong Boram, son of a master of Chapei musician Kong Nay, Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet (aCambodian traditional dance) by Apsara Sangvar Pich Arts Group, Kun Lbokator (Cambodian martial arts) by the Cambodian Kun Bokator Academy and Sbek Thom (Khmer shadow theatre) by Cambodian Living Arts.

The ICH day contributed to raising awareness about the rich Cambodian Intangible Cultural Heritage and the elements inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding as well as elements not yet inscribed on the UNESCO list, such as Kun Lbokator, Khmer martial arts, whose nomination dossier, prepared and submitted by the Royal Government of Cambodia in 2021 is currently under evaluation for potential inscription in 2022.

The ICH Day also directly contributed to the UNESCO project “Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in formal education in Cambodia” (2020-2022). The performances were recorded to produce videos and photographs to be integrated into the Digital Library of the Teacher Education College to be used as pedagogical materials to teach with ICH in schools across Cambodia.

Through the project Safeguarding ICH in formal education in Cambodia financially supported by the Chengdu Culture and Tourism Foundation, UNESCO is currently assisting the Government in developing educational materials, real-life case studies and testing pedagogical approaches in integrating ICH into the education system. The outputs of the project will contribute to the elaboration of the National Arts Education Curriculum for secondary schools.