Battambang Artists to Treat ‘City of Heart and Art’ to a Show

Over the past decade, Battambang City has built an international reputation as a bastion of artists.

From the art school of Phare Ponleu Selpak on the outskirts of the city have emerged musicians and performing and visual artists, some of them now recognized far beyond the country’s borders.

Cambodian artists build a puppet in Battambang City on Thursday. (Marcelline Chauveau)
Cambodian artists build a puppet in Battambang City on Thursday. (Marcelline Chauveau)

One former student, Sok Dina, is now part of the world’s most famous circus company, Cirque du Soleil.

But the artists’ presence is not always obvious to the general population of the city, so a group of them decided to organize an arts festival.

The event begins Saturday at 4 p.m. at Central Market with a parade by Phare’s circus artists, and then moves to the riverfront where nearly 80 artists will perform on and around three stages.

“This will be a special mo­ment…and quite promising because the festival will include performing arts, such as dance, circus and theater, along with visual arts,” said Laura Petit, of the Sangker Art Space and Gallery, who helped organize the festival.

“It will really be today’s arts and music because Battambang’s young artists want to show what they do and love doing,” she added.

The program will include musicians, dancers, a graffiti artist and visual artists doing live performances. Short films will also be screened while a cinema makeup artist and an animation-film artist hold workshops offstage.

“The main purpose of organizing this artist festival is to have our brothers and sisters in Battambang province realize that this province has been rich in all art forms since the 1960s,” said Keo Sreypheak, a 26-year-old painter who was among the artists who initiated the project.

This is also why the artists named the festival after the first verse of famed Cambodian singer Sin Sisa­muth’s song “Battambang Bandoul Chet”: city of heart and art.

“We hope this festival can be held annually,” Ms. Sreypheak said.

The festival ends at about 10 p.m.

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