Historically, within the cultural domain, Cambodia has often given priority to the protection of cultural heritage and traditional forms of expressions. Cambodia’s efforts have successfully resulted in inscribing Angkor and the Tempre of Preah Vihear as the World Heritage Sites. In recent years, however, the recognition of contemporary cultural and creative industries’ role in development has increasingly taken center stage in the country. Drawing upon EU-funded UNESCO’s technical assistance missions (2012-2014), Cambodia adopted its first national cultural policy in December 2014, binding together culture and national economic development, notably through the objective “to create new cultural products, especially in the creative industry sector”. Indeed, culture is already a non-negligible contributor to the national formal economy representing 1.53% of total GDP in 2011. The UNESCO project on culture for development indicators (CDIS) has also heighted the awareness about the importance of cultural and creative industries in the country.
Some important challenges remain, however, with limited opportunities in public funding of art production, arts education and formal cultural employment. Another obstacle is the lack of opportunities for cultural professionals to take part in the formulation and implementation of cultural policies, measures and programmes that concern them.
In this context, this capacity building action provides much needed dialogue between civil society and the government, laying the groundwork for more participatory policy processes and stronger social cohesion in post-Khmer rouge Cambodia. At the same time, it offers the possibility for better visibility of Cambodian culture and creative industries through participatory data collection and information sharing nationally and internationally.
The consultation meeting was organized on 28 March 2016 in Phnom Penh with the support of the UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh. 33 participants representing, among others, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, other Ministries, NGOs, the private sector and the academic community, attended this meeting. H.E. Samraing Kamsan, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and H.E. Ms. Kristina Kuhnel, Minister-Counsellor of Sweden, opened the meeting. The main concepts and messages of the 2005 Convention were recalled during the meeting as well as the obligation for Parties to submit a periodic report every four years. The experts also underlined the importance of building partnership between government, civil society and the private sector to strengthen participatory reporting on the 2005 Convention
The training workshop was organized between 29-31 March 2016 with 25 members of the Cambodian national team. The workshop was organized around different monitoring areas of the periodic report including, international cooperation and preferential treatment, integration of Culture in sustainable development, gender equality and the promotion of digital technologies The national team also discussed some of the existing challenges with regard to Cambodia’s cultural policy landscape including, the need for greater interministerial cooperation, the abscence of cooperation between the craft and business sector and, generally, the insufficient awareness of the contribution of culture to economic and social development
The drafting of the periodic report took place between October and December 2016. The organisation of the first Art Forum on 6 September 2016 was an opportunity to re-open the discussion of the importance of the periodic reporting not only as an information tool but as a strategic policy making tool since it gives opportunity to revise policy intentions, measures and priorities by enabling exchange of the information and best practices. The Sida project enabled this event to take place, which brought together 130 participants from civil society and the government to provide their feedback to the periodic report. The Forum had also the wider purpose of bringing together different stakeholders to network and support the creative industries of the country. After feedback were integrated, the report was submitted to UNESCO on 16 December 2016.