Phare Ponleu Selpak was founded in 1994 by nine Cambodians, who grew up in a refugee camp after surviving the genocide of the Khmer Rouge, and their French arts teacher. Resilience and hope have been in Phare’s DNA from the very beginning, and from a simple arts school, it blossomed into the multi-faceted creative hub it is today.

Phare educates and trains thousands of children and youth who come from challenging backgrounds. Most receive a mainstream education which helps them thrive as adults, but others become artists, performers and musicians who keep Cambodia’s creative culture alive after its almost total destruction by the Khmer Rouge. Phare offers them social support, education and arts programs so they can build their future and support their families through creative careers.

Phare Ponleu Selpak offers multidisciplinary schooling to young people, which gives them a perspective to make a living in art. Those taught typically come from poor backgrounds. The education is focused on self-realization and durability. Classes are given in subjects like theatre, acrobatics, music and a variety of art disciplines. PPS works were founded by Cambodians that had learned in refugee camps that art can be a means to forget trauma.

In the shows, themes are brought up such as genocide and other atrocities. Students of PPS have also acted abroad, like in Bangladesh and Thailand, Germany and Denmark. Annually PPS organizes the international circus festival Tini Tinou.

In 2012 Phare Ponleu Selpak was honored with a Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands for its role in society by means of using culture.

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