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Banging the drum for regional art festival

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Circus performers at the festival opening last Sunday

THE loud drums outside Chinese House on Sunday evening were part of a hullabaloo created by artists from Phare Ponleu Selapak to hail the opening of this year’s Mekong Arts and Media Festival.

The Phare Ponleu Selapak circus school’s executive director, Mao Kosal, said he was optimistic the five-day celebration would succeed in its objective to exchange ideas among the participating artists.

“This festival will get artists to learn from each other,” Mao Kosal said.

“Art is the best medium in reaching the masses. It can be used to educate people on issues like HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and drugs.”
Artists from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and non-Mekong region countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan will hold performances, conferences and workshops until Saturday.

Workshops include basic circus skills and puppetry, and academic conferences at the Cambodiana Hotel address ways to better integrate art into the community, with themes such as “Transforming Communities Through Arts and Creative Media”.

Evening performances at the Chaktomuk Theatre feature Cambodia’s Apsara Department of Arts, Laotian puppeteers Kabong Lao and Stereo Man, a modern dance group from Vietnam.

A series of free films will also screen nightly at 7:15pm at Chinese House until Friday.

Media student Lay Ratana, who leads the children’s groups performing at the festival, said the event was a great opportunity to showcase local talent.

“The youth who participate can use this opportunity to express themselves in ways not possible before,” Lay Ratana said.
The festival programme is available online at www.mekong-artsfest2009.com.

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