Art Initiative Aims to Transform Kep into Cultural Hub

The ART for Kep initiative will provide a platform for local artists to shine while promoting cultural tourism and the arts, and attracting more local and international visitors to the coastal town
The artwork will serve as a symbol of collaboration and call for support from private companies and individuals. Kiripost/supplied
The artwork will serve as a symbol of collaboration and call for support from private companies and individuals. Kiripost/supplied

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A project is underway to use art as a way to transform the landscape of coastal Kep, while attracting tourists to its shores and showcasing the work of Cambodian artists.

ART for Kep, an initiative spearheaded by Knai Bang Chatt, aims to promote cultural tourism and support Cambodian artists while fostering environmental conservation. Over the coming months, it will see a series of art installations, performances and events bring the town’s newly-established waterfront to life.

“One of the key benefits of public art is its ability to educate people while also serving as a catalyst for creativity and imagination. Through ART for Kep, we strive to create an inspirational platform where local artists can unleash their creativity,” said Jef Moons, CEO of Knai Bang Chatt.

“Ultimately, ART for Kep envisions itself as a space that inspires local and international tourists while also providing support for local authorities in their efforts towards regional growth and progress.”

The first phase of the project comprises ‘Coral Kingdom’, a 5.7-metre tall sandstone sculpture by Sothea Thang, of architecture and engineering company, Bloom Architects.

The artwork will also stand as a symbol of collaboration between local, provincial, and national stakeholders, with private companies and individuals being called on to support the initiative.

“It [‘Coral Kingdom’] represents the beauty of the sea and our coastal region. It will be a beacon of hope for environmental conservation and is a perfect example of how people work together to create new inspiration for the community,” Moons added.

‘Coral Kingdom’, which is expected to be completed in the next few months, is the first of a series of three proposed permanent artworks that will be established at the recently-opened waterfront destination, Kep West, with plans in the pipeline for other artforms to add to the attraction.

These include a small music festival, films, fashion shows, performing arts, dance, and even sporting events. “Each of these forms evoke emotions, narrate stories, provide new means of expression, and promote cultural trends,” noted Moons.

He added that art in public and community spaces is key to bringing areas to life. “Art provides people with the opportunity to freely express themselves. It is a powerful tool for conveying emotions, ideas, and cultural perspectives,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if some find it good or bad, the importance of art lies in its ability to stimulate diverse conversations. Art enriches our culture, it educates, it revitalizes the region, it supports the local art community, and it can be a tourism attraction.”

Moons added that the ART for Kep project also serves to help Cambodia reach its target of transitioning to a high-middle-income economy by 2030 by luring domestic and international travelers.

“It’s crucial to establish fresh connections that will inspire and let both locals and tourists grow alike. The aim is to foster a sense of creativity and cultural appreciation among the younger generation while also attracting visitors from around the world,” stated Moons.

“Our goal is to showcase the beauty of our region and the rich culture of Cambodia. We aim to motivate, educate, and provide thrilling experiences for our fellow Cambodians, and establish a connection between corporate sponsorship and artistic performances, benefiting companies, artists, individuals, and the entire region.”

Individuals and businesses are being invited to get involved by contributing $5 for each brick through Standard and Bronze packages have been designed for art enthusiasts on a tight budget. Silver, Gold, and Platinum packages have been tailor-made for corporates wanting to support the cause.

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