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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lights go up on Art Street

Lights go up on Art Street

Artists and students evicted from their homes and studios in the dilapidated community

of Tonle Bassac received encouraging news on March 19 as Cambodian Living Arts (CLA)

celebrated the inauguration of a new artist community tentatively called "Art

Street."

Approximately 150 supporters - from enthusiastic students wearing flashy traditional

Cambodian outfits to dignified master artists - gathered at the new three-story,

mustard-yellow building tucked in a small alley off Sothearos Boulevard south of

the National Assembly.

"Today marks a happy ending for our students and master musicians," said

Charley Todd, senior project adviser and co-president of the board of directors.

He said that for months the group has been effectively homeless and struggling to

find funding for a new center.

Since 2001, CLA has operated in cramped facilities used as classrooms for dance,

theater and music rehearsals. The new place has four times the space of the old,

and comes equipped with a resource center filled with books and computers and a state-of-the-art

sound and video studio.

CLA's manpower has grown as well. The non-profit group now employs six full-time

staff, and has 40 musicians and 250 students who receive monthly stipends for school

and supplies.

"I'm proud to be at the grand opening of CLA," said Silong Chhun, 27, a

visiting Khmer-American artist from Seattle and music producer of Long Beach-based

Mujestic Records. "This is a symbol of progression and new hope for Cambodian

arts."

The initial two years of operation for the new center was secured through donors

in Canada and England, but challenges loom in the distance. According to Todd, CLA

hopes Art Street will become an arts community of residences, galleries and performance

areas.

CLA was founded in 1998 by Khmer-American Arn Chorn-Pond to preserve traditional

Cambodian arts.

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