Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished National and International Guests,
Dear the Lecturers, Students, and Artists!
Today, it is my great honor and pleasure to be here in the national conference on “Khmer Visual Arts: 30 Years of Survival and Development” organized by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to review achievements, challenges and vision in our hard work to preserve and promote Khmer visual arts for the last three decades, after the historic January 7, 1979.
Cultural arts indeed stimulate knowledge of the people and social development. Visual arts represent human beings gaining upper hand over the nature, darkness, destiny, especially over human own weakness. In particular, there is no single small point on the wall of Angkor Temple not having been touched by human hands. All cultural products without a doubt originate from manual and mental work of humans. Artists act as spiritual and mental engineer. Therefore, cultural arts play a significantly important role in sharpening patriotism among Cambodian people. They do not only serve the entertainment purpose, but also education purpose, knowledge dissemination, and human and social development. Therefore, “the society produces arts and in return, arts take part in social improvement”.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to extend my welcome to all levels of official serving under the umbrella of culture, veteran artists, representatives from press, professional artists, and all participants who spare your valuable time to participate in this conference.
I would also like to commend the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts for initiating this important national conference, especially at a time when our country greatly needs all kinds of cultural work in order to promote the national identity and culture preservation and development in the cause of peace and development.
As I have raised above, Khmer visual arts are crucial in transforming human characteristics into knowledgeable and professional developers. In this spirit, Khmer visual arts promote the reputation and dignity of the country through the circulation of moral living, wisdom, and honesty. These factors will bring about harmonization, peace and development to the society. A country with developed cultural arts is usually associated with knowledgeable people and rapid development.
In this spirit, the Royal Government of the 4th Legislature of the National Assembly has launched the Rectangular Strategy Phase II in which human resource development remains a priority at every stage of development. Along with this, the Royal Government is working hard to boost growth, create employment, promote culture and morality in the society, and enhance efficiency of the public services by relying on the important role of cultural arts in realizing the targets of the Rectangular Strategy. In general, mental stimulation and knowledge dissemination through all kinds of cultural arts play a big role in promoting social development, peace culture and social development for the cause of poverty reduction and enhancement of people’s living standard.
To correctly highlight the “Vision of Khmer Visual Arts Development: Road to the Future” I would like to praise the pace of study, conservation, and survival as well as all accomplishments after the January 7, 1979. Artists who survived the Pol Pot Genocide Regime gather in urban and rural areas to develop new human resource and revive all kinds of Khmer visual arts.
Affection, disappointment over the destruction of cultural arts during the Pol Pot Regime, and determination among lecturers and artists across the country are immeasurable. Only a few days after the January 7, 1979, even without anything in hand, thanks to proper policy of the Kampuchea National United Front for National Salvation, cultural arts, customs, tradition, and religion grew like mushrooms. I remember that in just few months, each province or municipality formed many professional and amateur groups of performers. Those performers entertain people without regard to pay or tiredness, but with willingness and sincerity.
Our biggest motivation was the suffering over the destruction of culture and customs occurred during the Pol Pot Regime and regret over the loss of national culture. Along with this, public administrative structure and commitment were the keys to success after the January 7, 1979. Furthermore, full and firm support from each citizen is essential for the gathering and survival of our national visual arts. This sector has progressed sustainably till present, however there remain some challenges in visual arts sector that must be addressed.
Drawing from the current challenges and future path for the development of visual arts, I would like to give some recommendations as follows:
1. Formulate strategies, action plans and implement programs for visual arts. Development in all sectors, including the visual arts sector, cannot be done without clear direction or vision. Without strategic plans and implementation programs, development effort will surely fail. In this spirit, all levels of culture institutions must learn from the Royal Government’s policy programs and strategies in order to formulate a strategy and action plan in promoting visual arts.
2. Develop human resources in performing arts—including writer, director, choreographer, composer, singer, critics, actors and other engineers—is crucial for making progress in this area. Our human resources needs more trainings and perfections and have to learn for a whole life. Royal University of Fine Arts has to pay more attention on the quality, pushing up to the regional and international standard. In this regards, it is necessary to train and transfer knowledge from old/senior artists to the youth successors and next generation. Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts should develop a program that mobilizes advices and guides from senior/old instructors/artists and offers them tasks to transfer knowledge with some supports.
3. The development of performing arts has to connect to national culture and tradition. The inherited culture from our ancestors reflected our identities and national spirit. Vision of development performing art should be built on the foundation of ancient culture and national tradition. However, it has to be modern, as a saying go “Ancient/Old, but not slow; modern, but not foreignism”. Moreover, progress in performing arts have to achieve along with national policy on culture that emphasizes on protecting, maintaining and promoting national cultural heritages, cultures, traditions, languages and believes of minorities and transforming Cambodia to a center of promoting national culture and destination of regional and international cultural tourist.
4. Nurture patriotism, wisdom mentality and education in arts development which is the double-edge sword. Therefore, arts development have to be careful and nurture patriotic and wisdom mentality against immorality and perversion. The arts that lead to overjoyed, dirties and depravity, should be avoided. The development arts are the instruments to educate for industrious, economic, effort-making, patient, solidarity, unification, culture of exchanges, forgiveness and mutual understanding toward peace, prosperity and happiness. Both arts and comedies have to reflect progressive and dignity of national culture and tradition. By doing so, our performing arts are going to develop and gain support from the public and people, which is fertile for national development.
5. Promote the cooperation between the cultural institutions and media network and help to quickly expand the broadcast about national culture and art. The media network which includes TV, radio, national and international news is the method and mechanism for which contents and visual cultural can be broadcasted quickly and efficiently to the audience. The cultural and media institutions must work closely together to include as many as cultural art programs in the media. Along with that, the reduction of broadcasting of foreign cultures to the minimum is a necessity. By doing this, we are able to give priority to the broadcasting of our national cultural arts.
6. Promote the ownership of audience and people on our national cultural arts is essential because our people cannot love, protect or maintain the national cultural arts if they are not aware of them. In this regard, all level of cultural institutions must pay attention to prepare the training about the perfect pictures and enriching content of our culture at the maximum in order to promote awareness, love and support of the people in maintaining and developing our national cultural arts.
7. The inclusion of subject of national cultural arts into the national academic curriculum. Students are those who maintain and protect the country and people in the future. The culture survives because of the maintainers and developers of national culture for the next generation. If those people are not aware of the national cultural arts our national culture will be lost. Therefore, in the academic curriculum there must have the subject of culture as a key for our knowledge on culture, which is our national spirit. In this sense, the ministry of culture and fine arts and the ministry of education, youth and sport must have a mission to achieve this objective through organizing training programs and integrating the subject of culture into academic curriculum, especially at the primary and secondary levels, which is the most effective measure to maintain and develop the national cultural arts to become more prosperous.
8. The building of new achievement and the prevention of negative culture from the outside. It is sure that culture is the food of mentality, which cannot be absent. Today, in more than 100 cable TV stations there are only 7 Cambodian TV channels, which can actually disseminate our national culture programs. In this sense, I would like the ministry of culture and fine arts and the ministry of information to search for measure to build new cultural achievements as many as possible to be shown on our national radio and TV. However, these achievement contents are to serve the entertainment, happiness, dignity, education and morality. It is, therefore, to prevent the negative culture from the outside and to improve the long term popularity and progress in the future.
9. Clustering is the best advantage of development of our national cultural arts. This view is significant. If all cultural teams of professional people as well as the civil society, who have been working on the area of culture, are not getting closer, not helping each other and not joining work together, not cooperating, they cannot share experience with each other. In this sense, the gathering through the performance, experience sharing, the opening of the opera, academic forum, workshops and national conferences and the learning is an important factor. Therefore, all levels of cultural institutions must pay attention to achieve this good objective constantly otherwise, the isolation or separation will bring us to be weak and unmovable, but stay still.
10. The attachment of culture with the economy, tourism and the internationalization of Khmer culture. Tourists who spent their time and capital to travel abroad is to get to know the cultural relics, historical resorts, natural resources, custom and tradition and living standard of the people. Therefore, the internationalization of Khmer culture is an important factor, which needs to be paid attention. In this connection, the ministry of culture and fine arts and the ministry of tourism must transform our national culture to be internationally popular, scientific and famous in the region and the world through performance and dissemination.
The two institutions must transform the cultural achievement to be cultural services with quality, the product of market-serving culture to contribute to the national development and create more jobs for actors and actresses. The ministry of culture and fine arts must work hard to prepare request form to integrate more abstract and non-abstract relics into the world heritage in order to maintain the national relics to be long-lasting as well as attracting more tourists to visit our country.
11. The research and publication. The knowledge gained from the research will be lost if there is no binding or publication. The genocidal regime has destroyed all kinds of warrant books. After the liberation day on 7 January 1979, we have been collecting the remaining books to be kept in the national library. The ministry of culture and fine arts must promote the research works, prepare and publish various documents related to the Khmer culture including theater, poems, songs and traditional culture in order to fill on the lost books and documents as well as to keep it as a warehouse of knowledge on culture for the next generation.
I strongly believe that both my recommendations and decision of the national workshop will be truly paid attention and implemented for the sake of the continuation of conservation and development of our national culture in the future. I am pleased to learn that “this national workshop is the preparation of qualification to organize a national cultural opera to congratulate the national culture day on 3 March 2010”. I would like to support such excellent initiative and strongly believe that the Area of National Culture will really create newly created achievement to contribute to the development of the nation and transform the Kingdom of Cambodia to be the Center for National Cultural Dissemination.
At the end, I would like to thank and wish Excellencies, Lok Chum Teav, Ladies, and Gentlemen, especially grandfathers and grandmothers, who are former actors and actresses, dean and actor heroes as well as students, actors and all levels of culture officials including the representatives of the media system, civil society and people’s music, who have spent your opportunity to participate in this national workshop, the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.