The Sound Initiative’s Women's Amplified Voices - [.WAV] and Creative Youth Ambassador - [CYA] programmes ran side by side throughout the year. While .WAV focused on teaching technical and soft skills to music producers, CYA focused on bridging the gap between artists and policymakers.
Singer songwriter Sam Rocker was the common link between the two programmes. Music has always been her comfort, her creative outlet, and the avenue to her social advocacy work. Throughout her decade-long career she has been a voice for underrepresented topics and groups like the mental health and LGBTQ+ communities. Having been engaged in the music industry since 2012, Sam was an ideal candidate for the Creative Youth Ambassador programme.
CYA Programme consisted of five members from diverse creative backgrounds such as visual art, film, literature, photography and music. All members of the CYA programme are youth leaders that have been consistently working in the creative industry and have been carefully selected to be representative in their respective communities. Sam was selected as the representative of independent artists in the music industry for the CYA Programme. Despite being an experienced singer-songwriter, being the spokesperson for intellectual property rights was a completely new experience for Sam.
Sam and the other CYA representatives spoke with government officials from ministries, including the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs. This was an opportunity to build a bridge between the youth voice from the creative sector to government representatives from relevant ministries to promote the creative industry and improve the status of artists in Cambodia.
Sam spoke about her previous impressions of how government operated:
"I think there are a lot of things that you don't know when it comes to the ministry and what they are working on. Artists and officials don't work with each other much; there is a huge gap". - Sam Rocker
After six months of conversations and discussions, the five CYA’s and the government officials became more familiar with each other's challenges and had the opportunity to offer one another guidance. As a result of the programme, Sam reflected that she learned about how the ministries and government operate.
"Now that I am working with them, I understand they are doing their part from their side, but we just don't know what they've been working on. I understand that they have limited capacity and a lack of resources from their side to complete the work they have.
What I noticed is if we can push them harder or let them know what we want from them, they will also know where to go and what to do to support us. If you are in the creative industry, but you stay quiet and do not mention anything, there's no way they will know what we are going through and how to help." - Sam Rocker
Working with government officials was not something that Sam ever thought she would be doing. Still, after joining the programme, she expressed her gratitude and excitement to continue working with the government and advocating for artists' rights. The CYAs are planning an event in 2023 with the support of relevant ministries to promote artists' work further and build an appreciation of art and culture among the young generation; more on this soon!
"I can tell that on the government side, there are a lot of people who care about the art industry but just not enough people who can work on it. I feel like in the future. There will be more work I can do with the ministry as we will work together forward with the ministry to bridge the gap closer." - Sam Rocker
Check out Sam’s advocacy work:
Podcast with H.E Samheng Boros: https://www.facebook.com/samhengborospage/videos/872807833740486/
Also check out Sam’s song, Mnus Lngorng which is a song that she wrote with Norea as part of the .WAV programme: SAM ROCKER x NOREA - មនុស្សល្ងង់ / Fool [lyric video]
Her latest release song, Chance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSeTqc0ATTY