Updated: Jun 27, 2022
On March 25th 2022, The Sound Initiative held a panel discussion on creative youth and their role in the community.
Panel Discussion moderated by Huot Dara
H.E. Samheng Boros, Former Angkor Sankranta Operational Team Leader, 2013-2014. Secretary of State at Ministry Of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation
RY MoniSovanya, Visual artist
Sokcheng Seang, Seang Sokcheng is the former chairwoman, chief editor, & writer of the popular self-improvement bilingual website and page called Wapatoa - វប្បធម៌.
Ry Reangsey, Rapper and Songwriter
Keep believing in yourself … The only way that we can inspire an entire nation is to allow everyone's unlimited potential. If everyone can fulfil their potential, our society will advance just like that. - Samheng Boros When they saw my performance (Rice and Rights), it touched them emotionally, more like a wake-up call for them, too. It makes them realise that it is a pressing issue that has to change in themselves, their family, or society. - FIA
Arts and culture play a significant role in our everyday lives. However, there is a growing consensus on how it can also contribute to sustainable development, create inclusive communities, support livelihoods, and contribute to the economy.
Yet, access to this field is challenging, particularly in employment. This panel discussion highlighted that young people find it challenging to be taken seriously as an artist and build long-term careers within these industries.
Panelist, His Excellency Samheng Boros, expressed the need for a scenario where government and artists can come together and work more regularly and effectively to start initiating deeper conversations.
During this panel discussion, there was an opportunity to hear from both artists and policymakers and their various creative projects and hear the challenges they face.
Modern artworks are thought-provoking and get younger generations to be curious and intellectually challenged.
When it comes to the challenges faced by artists, the common theme in all the panellists' responses was the lack of acceptance that audiences are willing to give to younger generations of artists and their works. Most concerns are related to the cultural impact these artists have on Khmer culture and identity. Traditional values and rules are difficult to access for younger generations because they seem rigid. Still, artists always try to find a way to transform these ideas and make them more digestible for younger generations.
"We received more negative comments on our content that went viral. Especially the ones that have to do with an aspect of Khmer cultures. We are trying to combine culture with modern art. For example, for Khmer New Year, we made a piece of content about Tevadas, and we've received mixed reactions from the audience. Some of the audience praised us. Some were confused about why we take such vital figures and illustrate them in a cartoonish way. We were a bit speechless." -Sokcheng Seang
Other common challenges are the lack of funding for education and advocacy work and the lack of appreciation for artists and the arts in general.
"The lack of support from the associated institutions means that when artists want to create something, we are not brave enough to execute our ideas because we feel supported. Associated institutions are not providing support and opportunities for us in the form of funding. In our society, when people hear that girls want to be an artist, they will immediately judge." -FIA "When I talk to younger content creators, they all have ideas and are very capable, but they just don't have time. They need to go to their full-time jobs actually to make a living. If we can provide funding, these content creators can continue making content. Even mini-grants or sponsors are perfect for micro-content creators." -Sokcheng Seang
Since financial support for work is already scarce, artists who cannot work due to illness or accidents also have no idea how to get support and do not even know there is a system to help them. Moreover, since artists and creatives are entrepreneurs, they need to take a lot of time to learn and understand more about being self-employed or running their own business.
"When you are a freelancer or independent artist, it's not clear where we can go to be registered to have insurance. As an entrepreneur and an artist, I want to know where I can go for getting help." -YungLady
The subject of social security is so new that most artists have not even thought about it, nor have they heard it talked about.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is responsible for providing basic social security to the worker; NSSF has registered the members, collected the contribution, managed the NSSF finance, and implemented and provided the benefits to the workers or beneficiaries.
Regarding social security for artists, H.E Samheng Boros explained, "Regarding social protection… can it be applied to artists? Up until now, we have private sectors such as garment factory and other private organisations registering for the Retirement Saving Plan. However, for artists, we are developing a system called Automatic Retirement Saving Plan."
TSI has recently held a forum focusing on the barriers, read here. We are also continuing to work with PACT throughout 2022 to continue these conversations between youth leaders and ministry representatives to allow ongoing social dialogue and begin to address the challenges raised in these conversations.