The Cambodian Arts Media Mapping is jointly organised by ArtsEquator and the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) through culture360.ASEF.org, with the support of Cambodia Living Arts.
This is not an academically driven research project. Rather it is an on-the-ground mapping, to create a baseline study of the arts media landscape, providing a snapshot of what arts coverage in the media is like in the country. The survey was conducted in Cambodia by Sokim Keat and Phina So with the support of Cambodia Living Arts. Even though Cambodia has troubled decades-long history, its fledgling media space, though small, is encouraging.
Despite arts writing being in its infancy, in Cambodia, the researchers cite Seang Sokcheng, co-founder of online website Wapatoa, which means ‘culture’, as an example of the young writers eager to develop new spaces. A further issue in Cambodia is that many young writers are trained overseas and write in English instead of Khmer, limiting the reach of their works.
Music received the most coverage in the media in Cambodia, a scene that is active locally and has an increasingly regional reach. Although pop music was excluded from the survey, coverage of music by local independent musicians was included, an area that is relatively active in Cambodia, which may explain the data.
Anecdotally, the arts communities in the country have noted the shrinking spaces for reviews and criticism. Articles published leaned towards events listings, general arts news, previews and feature articles, while critical pieces were scarce. While important engines to market the art and build new audiences, the former do not deepen understanding, develop critical thinking or engage with the artistic vision the way that reviews and criticism do.
This exercise in mapping Cambodian arts media is the start of what will be a more in-depth and refined mapping of arts media in other Southeast Asian countries. With extended research, the hope is to produce data that may prove useful for policymakers, arts organisations and media groups to identify patterns of coverage, potential areas of growth and areas in need of policy intervention and support from public and private funds in the future.
According to culture360.asef.org