Work Begins on New Cambodian Circus Location

Work was underway on Friday to erect the big top of Phare, The Cambodian Circus, at its new location on the outskirts of Siem Reap City.

The 11-meter-high circus tent, which weighs several tons, was se­cured on the ground with 40 1-meter-long pegs, said Nicolas Charpal, a circus-tent technician who had come from France to oversee the installation.

Workers set up Phare’s big top at its new site near Siem Reap City. (Scott Sharick)
Workers set up Phare’s big top at its new site near Siem Reap City. (Scott Sharick)

“The ground had been prepared, compacted, refilled. So it was perfect to set up the big top,” he said.

The circus company is a social enterprise created by the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak to provide em­ployment to circus artists trained at its art and circus school in Battambang City, and help support the free school.

The big top was previously located on rented land in downtown Siem Reap. But with the land value going up, Phare faced an imminent rent increase it could not afford, which made it de­cide to buy a plot of its own, said Huot Dara, the circus company’s chief executive.

“Without the pressure, we would probably have taken a lot more time to have our own place,” he said.

“Now we’re really happy about it.” The new land was acquired through a “social impact loan” provided by the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, he added.

Phare’s new home is on Ring Road about 2 km from the city center.

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