Name of State Party
Name of element
Chapei Dang Veng
Kun Lbokkator (2014)
Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet (2018)
Long-necked lute and epic singing in Cambodia (2011)
Chapei Dang Veng (henceforth simply ‘Chapei’) is a popular Cambodian musical tradition that is performed with the accompaniment of a long-necked lute known as ‘Chapei’, from which the musical tradition derives its name. As a consequence of the wide range of occasions for which Chapei players perform, such as for religious activities, or for more informal entertaining events, this musical tradition is popular amongst, and enjoyed by the majority of Cambodians.
Along with other Cambodian artistic forms and performances, this musical tradition nearly disappeared in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979. During that tumultuous period—marked by a series of atrocious events--any traces of artistic expressions including Chapei were prohibited, hence severing all efforts to preserve, transmit, and encourage the practice of this art form. Fortunately, after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Chapei began to gradually resurge as a result of much support, in particular from the Chapei musicians themselves who undertook the responsibility to once again preserve and protect this cherished artistic performance. While the initiative of those few surviving grandmasters is commendable, great attention and urgency are needed to continue advocating for the viability and vitality of Chapei, especially since the surviving musicians are aging and suffering from declining health. Under such precarious conditions, it was imperative to seek international assistance from UNESCO’s ICH Fund, which is vital in reassuring that this intangible, artistic tradition continues to be revived.
Additionally, such international recognition has inspired and encouraged Cambodians in country as well as those forming part of the diaspora overseas to dedicate themselves and their respective communities, in a collective effort to invest their time, resources, and knowledge which enable Chapei to once more thrive as one of many facets that reflect the Cambodian people’s resiliency in identifying and re-identifying with our past, artistic practices.
In solidarity with the international community, civil society, and Chapei musicians and performers, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has established various programs and initiatives that complement a definitive mission to promote public awareness that encourages the transmission and preservation of Chapei musical tradition. With four years future safeguarding plan to be proposed and set in action starting from 2022-2025, we are optimistic that Chapei will be once again be an example of a living heritage art form to be celebrated and shared within Cambodia as well as internationally.
Ministry of culture and Fine Arts/Director General
#277, Preah Norodom Blvd., Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia
Other relevant information
Chapei Dang Veng (hereafter called ‘Chapei’) is a popular Cambodian musical tradition that is interwoven within the customs and beliefs of its people. The Chapei, from which the tradition takes its name, can be played to accompany the solo singer, or it can be part of a musical ensemble, namely three ancient types of music: Pleng Araek (Spirit Music), Pleng Kar Boran (Classical Wedding Music), and Pleng Mahori Preah Reach Trop (Royal Traditional Leisure Music). Chapei is also used as a communication medium which is very much recognized and appreciated by a large, public audience. The repertoire of the lyrics sung in Khmer is quite diverse, and the content ranges from delivering social commentary, seeking to educate, to expressing satire. Chapei repertoires include reciting traditional didactic poems, narrating folk tales, and recounting Buddhist stories. Performances are often comic in nature embedded within lyrics that aim to amuse the audience. One variation of this tradition is called Chhlong Chhloey (Call and Response), in which two or more performers engage in offering a statement or commentary and await for a direct (often humorous) response the other performer or performers. Chapei, as a musical tradition, is also performed during traditional ceremonies and festivals such as Bon Kathin (Buddhist Robe Offering Ceremony), and Pithi Bombous Neak (Buddhist Ordination Ceremony).
Although there are no restrictions regarding gender, the majority of Chapei performers are male. Chapei players are not only musically adept, but also witty, intelligent, quick to adapt, and great improvisers. Additionally, they should be well-versed in language, literature, poetry, and are good story tellers. Buddhist monks and pagodas also play a special role in Chapei, as historically monks are the bearers of much of the cultural, religious and historical knowledge contained in this art form. Pagodas provide the space for which players, teachers, students of Chapei could congregate, discuss, and practice traditional Chapei repertoire.
Chapei is an oral tradition transmitted from one generation to the next or through informal apprenticeships in which performers have historically learned to sharpen their skills in master-student relationships. Chapei inspires its aficionados; well-known Chapei masters have been highly sought after by students who are keen and eager to learn this art form and become professional performers themselves. This initiative to identify masters of Chapei is what makes this musical tradition unique.
Current Level of Viability of the Elements:
Chapei continues to be viable as a result of its practice by musicians throughout Cambodia; from rural communities to provincial city-centers. Ardent patrons of Chapei from overseas are also responsible for its positive reception. This widespread support is a testament to the few Chapei masters who survived the Khmer Rouge atrocities, and took upon themselves to assume the critical role of ensuring its transmission pre and post UNESCO inscription. Lamentably, some of these masters have either passed away or suffer from rapidly declining health, yet thanks to their steadfast efforts, a new generation of young masters have emerged, further reflecting the Cambodian people’s enduring willingness and commitment to preserve this intrinsically valuable representation of arts and culture. In addition to identifying and supporting master performers, a formal association, The Community of Living Chapei (CLC) was created in 2013 to raise awareness of Chapei and focus on transmission efforts within Phnom Penh and other five provinces. CLS comprises of 7 active members and since its inception has trained about 170 apprentices (10 of whom are female). 20 of the 170 students, approximately the top 10 percent, have themselves become emerging masters who continue to train new students under a master-apprentice relationship. Within a short period of time from 2017-2020, the number of Chapei musicians country-wide has more than doubled from 126 to 328 practitioners.
Shortly after the UNESCO inscription of Chapei, Kong Nay, one of the remaining masters to have survived the Khmer Rouge regime, was awarded with the prestigious 2017 FUKUOKA Prize of Arts and Culture in Japan. In recognition of the celebrated Master Kong Nay, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen welcomed Chapei artists of all generations to the Peace Palace in celebration, recognition, and appreciation for their achievements and contributions to Cambodian arts and culture.
Frequency of the Practices:
Thanks to Chapei’s recognized inscription, international assistance from UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, support from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA) and civil society organizations such as The Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), Chapei has thrived and is well-received within Cambodia and abroad. Various mass media and communication outlets such as broadcasts television programs, dedicated radio stations, and live performances have enabled Chapei musicians to reach a wider audience. In the case of Master Peang Py, a 2015 Chapei laureate from Banteay Meanchey province, there was a notable increase in his performances across different provinces; in 2017 he was hired for 20 peformances, yet by 2019 that number increased to 30. In 2020, unfortunately, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, 25 of Master Peang Py’s 30 booked performances were cancelled especially in faraway provinces such as Prei Veng, Svay Rieng and Ta Keo. Other Chapei artists were confronted with similar professional and financial challenges, yet some Chapei artists were fortunate to have been invited to play in an annual Chapei performance to commemorate its anniversarial UNESCO inscription.
In 2017 MCFA organized a Chapei competition to select the best Chapei players. The event attracted 31 Chapei artists from 16 different provinces and a viewing audience of 800. Similar Chapei festivals were organized to raise awareness, and these gatherings would not have been made possible without the generous support from the MCFA, CLA, CLC and UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund. Three main festivals include the following:
• 2018, Siem Reap Province: 25 Chapei artists participated with an audience of over 1,000..
• 2019, Phnom Penh (capital city): 42 Chapei artists took part with an audience of over 2000.
• 2020, Via Social Media (due to COVID-19 precautions):18 Chapei artists (consisting of 9 masters and 9 apprentices) attracted a view count of approximately 300,000.
These festivals combined showcased 85 Chapei players from 4 different generations and 11 provinces.
Creating New Performances:
With the assistance and the facilitation of two artists from MCFA’s Royal University of Fine Arts and its performing arts department, five Chapei artists from four provinces collaborated to create two new pieces of Chapei theatrical performance in the midst of 2020’s Covid-19’s global outbreak. These two pieces, Sovanna Sam and Soben Koma reflect Buddhist tales in which the Chapei players melodically narrate the story lines with the accompaniment of other performance artists. These original performances proved to be of great success, evidenced by a viewship of half a million.
Despite the successes, there are several factors that present direct challenges that impede the Chapei’s abiity to thrive in civil society:
Misperceptions, Limited Awareness, and Lack of Interest:
Cambodian youth are not interested in learning about the Chapei and its tradition because there is a perception that one cannot earn a living with such profession. Secondly, it is still widely believed that a Chapei apprentice will become blind once he or she masters the art form. There are also just a few publications about Chapei available for the public to access, which leads to the view that Chapei performance is an antiquated, boring form of entertainment compared to more lively types of entertainment introduced by Western cultures. Modernity and modern technology are also main factors competing for the attention of the country’s youth. Lastly, parents and guardians do not seem to be interested in encouraging their children to take Chapei lessons.
Limited Chapei Musical Training and the High Costs:
Prior to its inscription, the lack of knowledge and transmission was alarming. With the exception of the School of Fine Arts where Chapei training is integrated into its curricula, and although efforts have been made to make Chapei training classes available, there remains few alternative schools or training to promote Chapei education. In addition, there are very few workshops where Chapeis are made (three in Phnom Penh, one in Kompong Thom), which contributes to high costs, and essentially the instrument is unaffordable for the majority of the population. As a result of these factors, access to Chapei education is limited to those who have the time and financial resources to undertake professional training.
Other Economic Factors:
Presently, Chapei is notably not a popular form of entertainment among the youth who prefer music emanating from loudspeakers accompanied by dancing during religious ceremonies or festivals. In addition, there is a limited market for Chapei artists to be hired which poses a great challenge for them to earn a decent living wage as the cost of living continues to rise. This essentially leads to the idea that becoming a Chapei musician is not a viable career option for the country’s young generation. Even for seasoned Chapei artists, unforeseeable events like the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic pose serious threats to their livelihoods, thus many Chapei artists are forced to start new careers, adapt their skills to become singers or musicians for other types of musical traditions such as those associated with wedding ceremonies. Other artists have resorted to becoming rice farmers.
The objectives and results of proposed safeguarding measures described in the nomination file have been implemented in close collaboration with the performers, institutions and organizations representing civil society such as CLA, CLC, MCFA as well as other relevant stakeholders. Thanks to the support from UNESCO’s ICH Fund, the majority of the proposed safeguarding measures have been achieved. The proposed safeguarding measures, their objectives and expected results are outlined below:
1. A clear and more systematic understanding of Chapei as observed from its performers has been developed.
During implementation of the project’s safeguarding plan of the project, results have largely been identified according to the parameters outlined by the ICH Fund. The MCFA, through its provincial departments of culture and fine arts conducted a survey and a series of interviews to collect data used to develop a comprehensive overview of Chapei resources across the country: the number and distribution of performers; the number of performances; the identification of any notable observations, including areas of improvements. The definitive data obtained from the survey was interpreted into a comprehensive report providing a better understanding and a more accurate assessment of Chapei’s viability and vitality which served as a basis for future strategic planning. The collected data provides clear whereabouts of the artists and imformation for developing concrete future safeguarding plans.
2. To explore and develop a more effective strategy and method of transmission that complements the current situation for Chapei training and education.
Despite the adverse impact of Covid-19, Cambodia has managed to adapt and develop more realistic strategies.
• In addition to maintaining the master-apprentice relationship (within the confines of the country’s Covid-19 protocols), an online training module has been developed for distance learning. The recorded training sessions have been successfully adopted by master artists and apprentices alike, resulting in a spike of interest.
• Annual Chapei competitions were organized to promote and encourage more training and participation in Chapei-related activities
• Original, creative content: MCFA consultation with 5 key Chapei masters resulted in the conceptualization and performances of two new Chapei pieces which were well-received online, drawing a viewership of 500,000. Additionally, MCFA’s social media Facebook page recorded notable commentaries requesting more footage of live performances.
3. Increased popularity and public awareness.
The Community of Living Chapei (CLC) is formed by a group of young artists who were former students of Grand Master Kong Nay, the only surviving Chapei national Living Human Treasure. These young artists are trained skilled performers through practicing the technique of this traditional form, and eventually hope to be recognized as Grand Masters themselves. Besides publics and private events at the national and local levels where Chapei artists are specifically invited to perform for instance to celebrate annual celebration of the inscription of Chapei, to date CLC conducted 168 Chapei awareness raisings within Phnom Penh and 5 provinces by performing for school children as well as the public alike. MCFA’s survey shows that the popularity and public awareness of Chapei is notably increasing as a living heritage of Cambodia, creating a positive environment for the artists, and offering greater visibility of the art form throughout the media. Master Kong Nay’s receiving FUKUOKA Prize of the Arts and Culture for his steadfast efforts in transmitting Chapei skills to young people raising high profile of Chapei; thus encourage many to consider learning this beautiful art form.
4. The Chapei art form is artistically developed
Through three Chapei festivals, one can observe new emerging “Master” artists whose creativities is applaudable. One Chapei artist Mr. Kong Nhe, who happens to be also a soldier, plays Chapei and sing it in English. His performance attracts quite a number of not only among the Khmer but also international audience. The creation such as Chapei theatrical performance or the like is to be encouraged; this way, through previous experience, attracts more audience and while Chapei players can gain wider markets and celebrity, this art form is not considered as boring.
5. Systems are established to honour and develop talent in the field
MCAF, as the government agency responsible for the arts and culture, has honored Grand Master through the Living Human Treasure System. A concrete recognition is to be provided as a future plan. The Chapei laureates are often invited for special ministry’s event as a performer or participants as a part of the recognition such as on the National Culture Day. Chapei Laureate competition is scheduled by the Ministry to be held annually. Some of the Chapei champions have been recruited fully or partly to train others.
Nine major areas were proposed to address the issue of safeguarding. Although many of the activities listed below were implemented MCFA’s limited human resources has hindered the full execution of our initial program outline, therefore timeline adjustments are necessary to further facilitate implementation of our overall strategic plan.
To fully understand the current situation of Chapei and create a database of Chapei artists, MCFA developed a research questionnaire that includes the following information:
• Biographical background of Chapei artists and their students such as age, gender ,etc.;
• Quantitative observations of performances such as location, income generated, audience size, number of supporters, etc.);
• Types of ceremonies and events;
• Description of repertoire such as content, lyrics, stories, melodies, etc.;
• Level of ability and knowledge of performers such as educational background, skills, etc.);
• Community awareness initiatives such as tracking the number of participants, safeguarding activities, and other promotional and/or advertising campaigns.
Activities and Outputs:
• Up-to-date information tracking Chapei artists:
By reviewing existing data from MCFA’s Chapei inventory forms, lists of performers submitted by CLA and CLC, the number of participants from the Chapei and Khsae Deav festivals, we are able to identify a total of 116 Chapei artists (excluding 8 artists who unfortunately passed away prior to the completion of this report; 4 who are female ) from 18 of Cambodia’s 25 provinces.
• Interviewing selected artists:
The selection of interviewees were based upon the following criteria:
o Women Chapei artists
o Disabled artists
o Those between 40-80 years old
o Members identified as a Living Human Treasure or esteemed artist
o Famous artists or performance winners
o Artists trained by Chapei masters or from their parents Artists who received several years of training
o One or two artists from each province
Out of 116 identified Chapei artists, 53 were selected representing 18 provinces: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampong Speu, Thbong Khmum, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Banteay Meanchey, Battambong, Posat, Takeo, Kampot, Kep, Steung Treng, Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Oudor Meanchey, Kampong Chnang, and Kandal. In collaboration with the provincial departments of culture and fine arts, 12 questionnaires were collected
The interviews were documented by using video and still cameras as well as audio recorders. Completed questionnaires have been collected. Our team organized data according to provinces from where artists are. Data are transcribed, consolidated and analyzed. Final documentation and a final reporting of the mapping was prepared.
2. RESEARCH & DOCUMENTATION:
The Cambodian Living Arts’ (CLA)research team carried out its research and reported its findings to MCFA from September 2018 --February 2020. The CLA team was led by musicologist Patrick Kersalé who completed the following:
a. A research compilation:
- The term Chapei and its origin;
- The different names for Chapei;
- Research on the origin of Chapei;
- Manufacturing and organology
- Gender of Chapei players throughout history
b. Video content:
- Kong Nay & Amund Maarud: A New Path for Chapei
- Keo Samnang, A Street Singer: Repertoire Pieces and Translation
- Chapei and the Three-string Lesson: Buddhist Iconography in Cambodia
- Restoration and Colonization of High Definition Pictures of the 19th Century
- Kong Nay, The Master: Repertoire Pieces and Improvisation with English Translations
- Kong Boran, The New Generation: Repertoire Pieces and Improvisation with English Translations- Chapei and the Buddhist iconography outside Cambodia
- Chapei in contemporary Cambodian society
- Making a Chapei
- A documentary film about Chapei
With an aim for wider distribution of the report and the visual documents, an English-Khmer website was launched as a medium to access and view any updated, new information. A YouTube channel dedicated to the Chapei will also be made available soon. Moreover, MCFA in collaboration with CLC, CLA and other relevant stakeholders produced a book entitled, LIVING HERITAGE: The Artists of Cambodian Chapei to celebrate, promote, and safeguard the tradition. This publication is proudly supported by UNESCO, the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre and Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research of Griffith University, MCFA, and CLA.
3. BROADCAST AND MEDIA OUTREACH:
At the outset, MCFA Chapei Project team invited the Cambodian Broadcasting Service (CBS) to discuss production of a new, high-quality Chapei performance. MCFA also asked CLC to assist in organizing Chapei masters and community leaders to participate in the program from November 2018 to March 2019. The meeting was held to further discuss some key points:
- The development of a short broadcasting program
- The best way to deliver Chapei to a larger audience
- Incorporating the opinions of Chapei mastersinto a well-defined plan
- How to evaluate the impact of the program
Unfortunately, the discussion did not lead to any media programming and MCFA had to hire Mr. Pok Borak as a contractor to carry out its plan in February 2020. Mr. Pok and his team produced the desired content and were responsible for the marketing and promotion of the Chapei broadcasting program. In collaboration with Chapei artists affiliated with MCFA’s performing arts department and the Royal University of Fine Arts, Mr. Pok created two Chapei theatrical performance pieces. The two new productions, Sovanna Sam and Soben Koma, are based onBuddhist stories, and their live performances accompanied by the Chapei musicians’ narration are testimonies that this art form truly is a living heritage. These shows were recorded live, online, via MCFA’s Facebook page, and saw a viewership of about half a million (500,000).
4. EDUCATION & TRAINING:
The activities outlined have been delayed and rescheduled. We would like to propose a new Education and Training schedule beginning inApril 2021. Upon review of our mapping project, what we realized that the Chapei winners who placed first, second, and third in our Chapei competitions could serve as potential trainers. MCFA interviewed and selected some of those winners to participate in a week-long workshop led by Grand Master Kong Nay in Phnom Penh. Upon returning to their respective hometowns, these newly trained participants visited their neighborhood schools and made efforts to engage with the students by promoting the Chapei musical tradition.
In the near future, MCFA and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MOEYS) hope to recruit some of these apprentices as part time and full time staff members under the Education for Culture and Culture for Education project. Also, Chapei instruments will be provided, thus alleviating some of the financial burdens associated with Chapei musical training.
5. SECONDARY SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS (STATE SCHOOL):
Under the patronage of MCFA, the Secondary School of Fine Arts, has in place a curriculum which includes a formal and obligatory education in Chapei
6. CHAPEI FESTIVAL:
Three Chapei festivals were planned in different Cambodian provinces.
The first was organized by CLA’s Heritage Hub team in Siem Reap from 30 November-2 December 2018 at the Heritage Hub office located in Wat Bo Pagoda. The festival hosted 25 Chapei masters and students, two local groups of public school students, 15 volunteers, local art communities including Sounds of Angkor, Wat Bo Puppet Troupe, TukTukTV, Phare Social Enterprise, Bamboo Stage, Silong Original, Small Art School and the American Corner.
- The second event took place in Phnom Penh and was organized by the Cambodian Living Chapei under the patronage of CLA. The three-day event from 28-30November 2019 brought together Chapei masters, students, university students, as well as the general public with a total count of over 2000people.
- The last event was initially aimed to be organized in Kandal province at Wat Svay Andet, however,due to the Covid-19 pandemic public gatherings were restricted, so organizers decided to record the performance and broadcast it online. This first-ever online Chapei festival garnered tremendous support from the public and was considered a success
7. INSTRUMENT COST
The high cost of Chapei instruments hindered students from studying Chapei and also made it difficult for art schools to maintain Chapei classes. Fortunately, UNESCO’s grant helped to offset the cost of purchasing Chapei instruments, which in turn greatly assisted artists to reduce their financial burden. Based on our survey conducted in 2018, we found only two Chapei manufacturers in Phnom Penh–Long Borarith's Chapei Shop and Chum Prasoeur's Chapei Shop. These are the only remaining shops today that produce quality Chapeis at reasonable prices. The distribution of Chapei instruments to public schools was also part of our project, and MCFA invited Chapei masters and other artists for consultation prior to making any final purchases. Based on these feedback, MCFA purchased 10 Chapeis in its inaugural year: 4 were allocated for the Secondary School of Fine Arts, 1 for Chhouk Va High School, 2 for Kampot Traditional Music School for Orphaned and Disabled Children, and 3 for CLC.
8. CHAPEI LAUREATE
Although initially conceptualized and planned as an annual Chapei competition, MCFA’s Chapei team has not yet developed a concrete plan, although we wish provide ranks and honorariums for winners of previous competitions, and help provide further training at or near their respective village schools. This initiative will be contingent upon the country’s Covid-19situation.
9. MONITORING and EVALUATION:
With kind assistance from UNESCO’s Phnom Penh Office, we were able to identify Mr. Rahul GOSWAMI as an international evaluator for our Chapei Project as stated in Activity 9 “Monitoring and Evaluation.” A TOR was prepared for Mr. GOSWAMI, and the contract was signed in early April 2020.
Within the reporting years, there are a few new and upcoming Chapei practitioners who have continued the Chapei tradition as their professions. They either perform the Chapei for their communities or established a team to transmit their knowledge and experience to new and younger Chapei apprentices. Below is a list of individual artists who have actively participated in practicing, transmitting, and involving their communities.
• Peang Pi is a talented Chapei player who has performed in numerous of shows and events in his hometown. Pi alsooffers Chapei classes, andin early 2020, he was invited to take part in the two new Chapei plays, ‘Sovanasam’ and ‘Soban Kauma’ which were produced by MCFA and live-streamed via Facebook.
• Pich Sarath is the founder of Community of Living Chapei (CLC) and dedicates his time to teaching and promoting Chapei to the next generation of city youth in the Phnom Penh area. Together with his team, Sarath and his team participate in public performances in and outside of Phnom Penh.
• Meour Mourn received his diploma in Chapei from the Secondary School of Fine Arts which offers the only formal Chapei training in the country. . After graduating, Mourn returned to his hometown in Siem Reap province to pursue his career as a professional Chapei player. In addition to performing, Mourn offers online Chapei class across the country. His proficiency in English, along with being tech-savvy allow him to share his knowledge with a larger and more diverse audience.
• In mid-2020, MCFA supported the production of two new Chapei theatrical performances, Sovanna Sam and Soban Koma with the purpose of promoting and sustaining the practice of the Chapei Dang Veng. The plays were launched virtually on social media,and was well-received with positive responses from the local audience.
What marked these projects as highly successful was because Chapei Dang Veng was presented in a very new, refreshing way. The two project facilitators, Narim Nam and Chankethya Chey, who are themselves professional dancers and choreographers, were able to consult with five Chapei masters from across the country to create new performance pieces that beautifully integrate with other Cambodian traditional art forms such asclassical dance, small shadow puppet, and chanting. The result were rich, diverse pieces which exquisitely highlighted the Chapei’s essence. This project could not have been successful without a foundational understanding of the Chapei’s aesthetic elements and components of this musical tradition. This background knowledge allowed the two facilitators to gain a deep appreciation and respect for the Chapei as well as for the practitioners themselves.
The outcome of this collaborative work between Chapei masters and facilitators-choreographers demonstrates that it is possible to bring people together and produce original, artistic pieces that promote the Chapei whilst safeguarding its unique artistic tradition.
MCFA is proud to offer artists of different generations and diverse backgrounds an opportunity to unite in such efforts for the sake of protecting Chapei Dang Veng.
• Cambodia Living Arts (CLA) is non-government organization that aims to promote creativity and innovation in the arts sector, and to build links with neighbouring countries within the Greater Mekong region and further afield in Asia. CLA also advocates for arts and culture education to be included into Cambodian public schools, and to increase performance opportunities for Cambodian artists. CLA runs many programs and events with a mission to raise awareness and promote Cambodia’s endangered intangible heritage.
In 2003, CLA began offering Chapei Dang Veng classes taught by Master Kong Nay. Two generations of Chapei students benefited from Master Kong Nay’s tutelage until his retirement in 2009. With CLA’s generous support, one of Master Kong Nay’s students, Mr. Pich Sarath, also became a teacher until 2015. During his tenure, Mr. Sarath helped CLA form a professional troupe of Chapei musicians, and CLA continued to providetraining so that members of the newly formed troupe could hone their skills and eventually be self-sufficient.
The Chapei troupe later developed into the Community of Living Chapei (CLC) and was led by Sarath and six other members.
CLC became independent from CLA in 2016 and currently serves over 138 students. CLC’s mission is to raise awareness of the Chapei Dang Veng musical tradition through educational initiatives and by producing a documentary on the art form.
Moreover, CLA prepared the program schedule for the Chapei Dang Veng Festival to include the following: Chapei Dang Veng performances, storytelling, classical wedding music, and Arak music workshops, a panel discussion with Master Kosal Voha, Master Kong Nay, Master El Bien, Master Kampoul Pich, Master Sao Ien, Master Kong Hing, and Master Keo Hoeun, a lecture presented by ethnomusicologist and researcher Patrick Kersalé, and a photo exhibition highlighting the history of Chapei Dang Veng.
• Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) is a non-profit Cambodian arts school founded in 1994 to improve the lives of children, young adults, and their families through arts educational programs and social support. PPS offers multidisciplinary schooling to young people, which gives them a perspective to make a living in art. Those taught typically come from poor backgrounds. Classes are given in subjects such as theatre, acrobatics, music and a variety of other artistic disciplines. One special offering is a training course for traditional Khmer music including Chapei Dang Veng.
Below is a summary of the activities completed thatachieve the objectives from 2017-2020:
1. MAPPING Project (2017 - March 2020)
- 2017 : Reviewing existing data on Chapei practitioners in 2014: planning and
designing a research methodology (questions, identifying important provinces,
- 2018 : a project team of MCFA created a project team to collect information based
on a mapping method
- May 2019 : Conducted comprehensive interviews
- 2020 : MCFA drafted a research questionnaire. The final data identified 116
Chapei artists from 18 of Cambodia’s 25 provinces.
2. RESEARCH & DOCUMENTATION (September 2018-Feb 2020)
- 2018 - 2020 : Publication of history and theory text by CLA’s research team led by
musicologist Patrick Kersalé.
- 2018 : CLC’s published book entitled ‘Living Heritage: The Artist of Cambodian Chapei
- April 2020 - Present: In progress--MOCFA’s Chapei song book.
3. BROADCASTING (November 2018-October 2020)
- End of 2018 : MOCFA meeting with CLC and CBS regarding traditional and digital
marketing for Chapei Dong Veng: tv programming, website creating, and –social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube channel, Facebook page).
- February 2020 - October 2020 :MOCFA contract workwith Mr. Pok Borak to market,
promote, and produce Chapei broadcasting content.
Two original performances based on Buddhist stories were produced, Sovanna Sam and Soben Koma. They were broadcasted via MOCFA’s Facebook page, the National Television of Kampuchea’s(TVK) entertainment page, and other YouTube channels.
- In July 2020 :MOCFA invited Chapei Grand Master Grandpa El Pech to perform in Soben
Koma at the National Museum. His performance was live-streamed via
MOCFA’s Facebook page.
- Mr. Peang Pi and Mr. Chey Soda performed live for special occasions and holidays such as Khmer New Year and the King’s birthday.
4. EDUCATION and TRAINING (2019- 2020)
- 2019 - present : Under the supervision of Mr. Pich Sarath’s monthly workshops at
Naga Vana pagoda were conducted. CLC Chapei artists transferred
their skills to younger artists.
- 2020 - Present :MOCFA distributed Chapeis to artists
- 2020 : MOCFA selected 7 Chapei Masters from 5 different provinces to
teach Chapei in their communities.
5. Secondary School of Fine Art (SSFA) (May 2017-June 2021)
- 2020 : Under the patronage of MOCFA, the Secondary School of Fine Arts
collaborated with Mr. Pech Sarath, a project partner)
- 2020 : Expert consultant, Mr. San Phalla
produced a report detailing an action plan for designing and implementing a Chapei program to complement the school’s curriculum
The following is a summary of Mr. San Phall’s findings:
▪ 2002 - SSFA’s first Chapei program consisted of 15 students; 8 of whom are female)
▪ 2003 - Only 3 students enrolled.
▪ 2007 - First promotion graduation of a Chapei student.
▪ 2019 - 2020 - SSFA proposed to reintroduce the Chapei program into the music school’s curriculum as a sub-subject. However, due to Covid-19 the school was ordered to close mid-March 2020.
6. Chapei Festival (2017-2020)
- 2018 : Funded by ICH; organized in Siem Reap by CLA with 25 Chapei
artists participating; it drew an audience of over 1,000.
- 2019 : Funded by ICH; organized in Phnom Penh by CLA with 42 Chapei
artists and an audience of over 2,000 attending.
- 2019 : Legacy of Chapei Dang Veng, a Chapei performance organized by The
Secondary School of Fine Arts
- 2020 : Virtual Chapei Festival organized by MOCFA (Phnom Penh,
Department of Performance Arts)
7. Instrument Costs (2018-2020)
- 50 Chapeis purchased for artists:
o 2018- 10 Chapeis purchased
5 from Long Borarith’s workshop
5 from Chum Proser’’s workshop
o 2019 - 20 Chapeis purchased
10 from Chum Proser’s workshop
5 from Long Borarith’s workshop
5 from Nhean Kean’s workshop
o 2020- Over 20 Chapeis purchased
5 from Long Borarith’s workshop
15 from Nhean Kean’s workshop
- MOCFA distributed 50 Chapeis to various Chapei artists and NGOs.
8. Chapei Laureate (2017-2020)
- 2017 : MCFA organized a Chapei competition to select the best Chapei players.
31 Chapei artists from 16 different provinces participated, drawing an of 800.
9. Award (2020)
- October 2020 : Mr. Peang Pi officially assigned as a MCFA assistant.
Below is an outline of the budget expenditure for each activity from 2017-2020
1. MAPPING Project (ICH fund 20,907.50 USD, State Party 2,300 USD)
- 2017- Data review, planning, and designing a research methodology
- 2018 - MCFA information collection
- May 2019 - Conducting comprehensive interviews.
- 2020 – MOCFA research questionnaire.
2. RESEARCH & DOCUMENTATION (ICH fund 26,845 USD, State Party 2,500 USD)
- 2018 – 2020 CLA’s research findings; publication of history and theory text.
- 2018 - CLC book entitled Living Heritage: The Artist of Cambodian Chapei
3. BROADCASTING (ICH 29,550 USD, State Party 9,000 USD)
- 2018 MOCFA meeting with CLC and CBS
- February-October 2020 Marketing and production of Sovanna Sam and Soben Koma
- July 2020 Master El Pech’s performance in to Soben Koma at the National Museum.\\
- Mr. Peang Pi and Mr. Chey Soda’s live-stream social media performance.
4. EDUCATION and TRAINING (ICH Fund 31,500 USD, State Party 4,750 USD)
- 2019 until present - CLC monthly workshops which involve Chapei artists from CLC to transfer their skill to younger artists, take place at Naga Vana pagoda.
- 2020 - Chapei instrument distribution.
- 2020 Hiring of 7 Chapei masters to teach in their communities.
5. Secondary School of Fine Art (SSFA) (ICH Fund 3,000 USD, State Party 9,800 USD)
- 2020 - The Secondary School of Fine Arts project collaboration with Mr. Pich Sarath.
6. 2020 – Consultancy (Mr. San Phalla) for Chapei school program. Chapei Festival (ICH Fund 38,844.90 USD, State Party 1,500 USD)
- 2018 - Siem Reap province.
- 2019- Phnom Penh
- 2019 - The Secondary School of Fine Arts’ Legacy of Chapei Dong Veng performance
- 2020 – MOCFA’s Virtual Chapei Festival
7. Instrument Costs (ICH Fund 14,600; State Party 4,600 USD)
- 50 Chapeis for Chapei artists
a. 2018 - Purchased 10 Chapei manufactory
5 from Long Borarith’s workshop
5 from Chum Proser’s workshop
b. 2019 - 20 Chapeis
10 from Chum Proser’s workshop
5 from Long Borarith’s workshop
5 from Nhean Kean’s workshop
c. 2020 - 20 Chapeis
5 from Long Borarith’s workshop
15 from Nhean Kean’s workshop
- The 50 Chapeis were distributed to various Chapei artists and NGOs.
8. Chapei Laureate (2017-2020) (State Party 30,000 USD)
9. 2017 MCFA organized Chapei competition Award
- October 2020 Mr. Peang Pi was officially assigned as a MOCFA assistant.
Although some of those proposed activities were not fully implemented, and the expected results were not fully achieved, the outcomes should be applauded especially during this Covid-19 pandemic. MCFA is steadfast in its commitment to champion Chapei as an active living art form not only in Cambodian society, but for it to be recognized and appreciated internationally as well.
Our updated 4-year safeguarding plan for 2020-2025, the objectives and expected results are further described below:
1. Database update of Chapei activities and practitioners.
- Expected Results:
o Obtained more comprehensive data on Chapei across the country such as the numbers and distribution of practitioners, frequency of performances, sites/locations for Chapei instrument manufacturing, strengths and weaknesses.
o Updated Status of Chapei Artists
- Review existing data
- Update research methodology (question form, priority province)
- Field work (Provincial travel, artist meetings)
- Data collection and reporting
2. Gaining young people’s interests by introducing the element in K-12 general education.
- Expected Results:
o Increase the number of students taking Chapei classes both formal and informally
o Increase the number of talented Chapei apprentices to participate in national Chapeicompetitions every two years
o Education and Training
- Review of challenges and issues
- Recruitment of Curriculum Developer(s)
- Curriculum design (led by consultant but with community consultation) and production (with reference to theory, historical text, and a song book)
- Curriculum approval and certification
- Design of training program, including selection of participants
- Training delivery (likely in two regional centres)
- Chapei in school preparation
- Chapei in school implementation
- Chapei in school evaluation
3. Increase broadcast media outreach
- Expected Results:
o Leverage different media platforms to effectively introduce Chapei to the public. Such outlets may include television programming, radio stations, and social media.
o Increase public awareness
o Attract new audiences
o Broadcasting via online and tv shows
- Collaboration withtelevision networks
- Content preparation and production
- Marketing and promotion
- Live shows streamed and broadcasted via Facebook and television channels
4. Chapei Festival and Chapei Laureate
- Expected Results:
o Provide a platform for emerging artists to showcase their Chapei talents beforelive audiences, and increase the profile of Chapei across Cambodia.
o Provide opportunities and a suitable environment for Chapei players to gather and exchange knowledge and experiences
o Preparation and production
- Consultation and cooperation with community
o Marketing and promotion
- Poster designs
- Festival promotion
o Implementation and Approval
- Travel expenses
- Artists’ fees
- Incidental expenses
- Venue rental
5. Lower the cost for manufacturing and selling Chapeis. Consider building Chapei instruments in various sizes suitable for all ages
- Expected Results
o Chapeis of varying lengths and sizes are readily available and sold acrossCambodia.
o Instrument cost
- Create a market demand for Chapeis
- Production material to producing
6. Promoting research and documentation
- Expected Results
o Increase the number of written materials such as textbooks, children’s books and various scholarly research and publications.
o Provide small grants for research, publication, and preparation.
o Establish platform (book fairs, book launches, and conferences) for scholarly research, publication, and other written materials to reach the general public.
o Create a digital archive to store research documents and publications.
Please see the attached timetable
For future activities, MOCFA proposed some activities which were implemented under the safeguarding plan of which include broadcasting and media outreach, Chapei in secondary schools, and education and training. The budget for implementation will be available from the national government and other partners to cover the costs. Please refer to attached budget document.
In our safeguarding plan for Chapei Dang Veng, MCFA has engaged closely with individuals, communities, also other stakeholders through both informal and formal meetings, workshops, and consultation with various national and international arts organizations and identified in this proposal.
Cambodian Living Arts, for example has provided low-cost Chapei classes, and have trained numerous students who had no background in Chapei Dang Veng.
Community of Living Chapei is another prominent locally-founded organization that serves the Phnom Penh area. They provide free Chapei classes, make available a space for artists to stage public performances, and champion women to consider Chapei as an accessible and welcoming art form.
In addition, through their training program, the Chapei Amatak Association, CLC established a community-based environment that encourages youth between the ages of 14-t17 years old to get involved.
Community of Living Chapei (CLC) is a non-profit art organization with a mission to preserve and promote the Chapei musical art form through training and by raising public awareness. Its founder, Mr. Pich Sarath and his team voluneer their time to support this mission. Additionally, thanks to the generous support of Neakavorn Buddhist monastery (in Phnom Penh), the team is able to provide free weekend Chapei classes to kids and young adults (in-person and online). Some students further their studies to become professional Chapei players and Chapei instructors themselves. Through its collaboration and sponsorship by partners such as the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the Ministry of Information, Canadia bank and Soriya Mall, CLC is able to organize performances across the country.
Furthermore, to promote Chapei training at the local levels, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts contracted several artists: Mr. No Samnang, Mr. Peang Pi and Mr. Mor Moung.
Mr. No Samnang is a grass-roots Chapei player and instructor who has taught a lot of students in his community free-of-charge because he strongly believes in sharing and transmitting his knowledge to the younger generation regardless of one’s ability to pay.
With support from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Mr. Peang Pi, a young and talented Chapei player, currently offers Chapei classes in Banteay Meanchey province.Although it is easy for Mr. Pi to recruit students because of his popularity and talent, it is a challenge for him to continue this profession due to the sparse opportunity to perform and earn a living. Also, his circle of influence is limited because he does not have adequate transportation to commute to and from villages far from his own.
Mr. Mor Moung is a Chapei player and instructor in Siem Reap province. Mr. Moung delivers online Chapei classes by leveraging social media applications such as Telegram and video calls. Although technology allows him to communite with students without having to waste time nor spend money on travel expenses,he expressed concerns that his short courses do not deliver the same level of knowledge and experience to his students as classroom instruction can, and as a result will lose interest in pursuing Chapei as a viable profession. Another of his concerns is that due to a lack of public awareness, the Chapei musical tradition may not survive into the near future.
As a result of Covid-19 related protocols and measures, the preparation of this report was completed in consultation with individual practitioners, related organizations rather than through consultative workshops.