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Campaign started to save puppet theatre

A fundraising campaign has been launched to support master shadow puppet maker Mann Kosal and ensure the future of the Sovanna Phum Association.
A fundraising campaign has been launched to support master shadow puppet maker Mann Kosal and ensure the future of the Sovanna Phum Association. Athena Zelandonii

Campaign started to save puppet theatre

A fundraising campaign has been launched to ensure the short-term future of a long-standing Phnom Penh sbek thom (shadow puppet) theatre.

In May, the head of the Sovanna Phum Association Mann Kosal decided he could not continue without proper funding and decided to leave Phnom Penh to become a tuk-tuk driver.

But at the eleventh hour a pair of young artists pledged to raise between $12,000 to $30,000 to support his work as one of the few remaining practitioners of the art.

Last week, sisters Rithy Lomorpich and Rithy Lomorkesor, who began volunteering with Sovanna Phum in 2012, launched the #5KRiels campaign on Indiegogo, asking donors to stump up about $1.25 each and will run for three months.

“The idea is that 5,000 riel is not much money from each pocket,” said Lomorpich. “[But if many people] would donate only $1.25 on our donation website or into our piggy box, the #5KRiels campaign would have success to support sbek thom artists.”

The fundraising website also had options for people to donate more than $5 with rewards including personalised thank-you messages on photographs, T-shirts and carved leather puppets.

“Sometimes we think that little money could not change anything, but we believe little money could create a better life for Cambodian artists, especially lakhon sbek thom performance art,” Lomorpich said.

“However, if Cambodian people do not support their own heritage, it would be a huge shame to lose a Khmer art association which has run for a long time.”

Lomorpich said the sisters also planned to organise fundraising performances and put donation boxes in cafes, shops and restaurants.

For more details and to donate, visit the Indiegogo campaign.

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