Eleven people from the Ministry of Culture, television and private business were named “Cambodian art heroes” for the years 2000 and 2001 at the fourth National Cultural Day Wednesday.
“We recognize as art heroes …those who have used their talent to fulfill their duty to defend and conserve the national culture and make it come alive,” Minister of Culture Princess Bopha Devi said at the ceremony, held at the National Cultural Center.
The awards were given for accomplishments in such areas as archaeology, writing, traditional Khmer plays and music, film and video production, painting, drama and musical composition.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the ceremony that Khmer culture was nearly destroyed by three decades of civil war. “The Khmer arts were punished” along with the Cambodian people during those years, he said.
Education is the only way to preserve awareness of Khmer heritage and protect that heritage from disappearing, Hun Sen said. The government has increased the budget for cultural activities from 3 billion riel in 1998 (about $750,000) to 11 billion riel in 2002 (about $2.75 million), he said.
The award recipients were: Chuch Phoeun, a Ministry of Culture undersecretary of state, for archaeology; Pich Tom Kravil, also a Ministry of Culture undersecretary of state, for poetry and traditional drama; TVK General Director Mao Ayut for film and video production; Hang Soth of the Ministry of Culture, for music composition; Kung Nai for Chabei, traditional musical drama; Ouk Chea, former director of the Ministry’s artifact department; painter and sculptor You Sam El; Out Roeun, for sculpture and drawing; painter and sculptor Oeung Min Sinh; Blong Moeuk for Ayai, a form of traditional performance; and Norng Chanthan for contemporary drama.
Princess Bopha Devi told guests at the ceremony that the event would help rebuild a unified national culture for Cambodia. She said the preservation of culture would also contribute to building Cambodian society and social justice as well as helping to alleviate poverty.