11.COM 10.A.6

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Cambodia has nominated Chapei Dang Veng (No. 01165) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Chapei Dang Veng is a Cambodian musical tradition closely associated with the life, customs and beliefs of the Cambodian people. It features the chapei (a type of lute often played at cultural festivals) accompanied by singing. Song lyrics range from the educational and a type of social commentary, to satire while incorporating traditional poems, folk tales or Buddhist stories. The tradition is considered to have multiple functions within Cambodian communities, such as safeguarding traditional rituals; transmitting social, cultural and religious knowledge and values; providing exposure to the old Khmer language; creating a space for social and political commentary; entertaining; connecting generations; and building social cohesion. Apart from musical talent, skills required to be a chapei player include wit, the ability to improvise and be a good storyteller. While performers are generally male, there are no gender restrictions on who can play the chapei. Transmitted orally within families and informal master-apprentice relationships, today the art form is practised by few performers and even fewer masters exist. The Khmer Rouge regime severely affected the bearer population and disrupted transmission of the practice with long-term implications as communities now face the prospect of a tradition that could potentially disappear.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

U.1:   Chapei Dang Veng is described as an element of the intangible cultural heritage of several Cambodian communities. This popular musical tradition hinges on the use of a lute (the chapei). The element is shown to be central to the life, customs and traditional beliefs of local communities. This element has multiple social functions, including entertainment, building community cohesion and the transmission of social, cultural and religious knowledge and values. Chapei is transmitted orally within the family and through apprenticeship;

U.2:   The file demonstrates the need for urgent safeguarding despite the efforts taken so far by bearers and practitioners. Threats faced by the element include the diminishing number of masters, aggravated by a concentration of artists in urban areas, lack of interest among youth, difficulty to earn a living from practising the chapei, and limited research and documentation. These all gravely compromise transmission of the element to new generations;

U.3:   Complementing past and current efforts, the proposed activities are wide ranging. They include mapping and documentation, media dissemination, education and training, provision of bursaries to talented students and organization of a festival. The objectives of the safeguarding plan are coherent with the threats. The file provides a specific timeframe for each activity and the budget is generally well-explained. The nomination file indicates that the communities concerned will be involved in carrying out monitoring, reporting and evaluation of the project. Their capacity will be enhanced through improved skills in safeguarding, ethno-musicology and strengthened collaboration with the different parties involved in implementing the project. The results of the project would be sustained beyond the project’s life cycle by state programming and support, curriculum development and implementation from teachers and students alongside other forms of capacity building;

U.4:   The nomination and proposed project plan were elaborated by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts with the engagement of local communities and several other institutions concerned. Drafting the file went through multiple phases – from initial conceptualisation to project planning – with consistent feedback on the part of the communities concerned. The file indicates that they are at the centre of implementation and provision of cultural knowledge and expertise, providing advice, contributing to training, monitoring and evaluating results and taking the lead on some activities;

U.5:   The element has been inscribed since 2004 in the Cambodian Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, managed and maintained by the Directorate of Technical Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. The inventory is regularly updated approximately every two years. The involvement of communities during the process of inventory building was handled through the distribution of questionnaires to artists, practitioners and non-governmental organizations to gather data.

  1. Inscribes Chapei Dang Veng on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Also takes note that Cambodia requested an allocation of US$238,970 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of the safeguarding plan for Chapei Dang Veng;
  3. Decides furthermore that, from the information included in the file, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:

A.1:   The file describes how the bearers of the element, as well as educational and arts organizations concerned, participated in the preparation of the plan proposed and will be involved in the implementation of the activities. The request would, however, benefit from a more comprehensive description of the mechanisms for fully involving rural communities, traditional masters and practitioners, and the local non-governmental organizations, during all steps in the execution and follow-up of the project;

A.2:   Overall, a coherent and detailed justification for a set of activities whose costings appear to be reasonable has been provided. The Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund would cover about two-thirds of the total costs, leaving the State to make a substantial contribution. A detailed timetable is also provided. Although most aspects of the budget are clear, detailed and in line with planned activities and expected results, there are some inconsistencies and some figures would need a further breakdown as they may appear excessive. There is also a need to ensure that budgetary provisions are sufficient for the reinforcement of safeguarding capacities of the communities concerned so that they are central to sustained efforts;

A.3:   The proposed activities are well-conceived, appear feasible and are presented within a logical flow. They are primarily aimed at (i) counterbalancing risks identified, in particular lack of intergenerational transmission of the traditional knowledge and skills and (ii) focusing on survey and documentation, training and education, which reflects the involvement of non-governmental organizations and representatives of certain communities concerned in their elaboration. The Directorate of Technical Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts will be responsible for the management and implementation of the project and a working committee comprising members of the Chapei communities, non-governmental organizations and Ministry officials will be established to carry out monitoring and evaluation, in addition to periodic external evaluations. There is, however, a need to ensure that activities are not conceived only for urban communities and art organizations, but rather for the wide participation of local communities, traditional bearers and practitioners and thus avoid any danger of decontextualization of the element;

A.4:   The community concerned is expected to assume responsibility for sustaining the project, whose emphasis on transmission (e.g. teacher training) should contribute to lasting results. The project is also supported by the State’s relevant legislative framework. Collaborative mechanisms between the various partners involved are also expected to help in this respect. Some of the projected activities will, however, have to rely on extra support beyond the project’s timeframe (i.e. bursaries and the festival). The project will also need to ensure the active involvement of local communities, surviving masters and other traditional bearers in the implementation of proposed activities to ensure maximum sustainability;

A.5:   The submitting State is committed to providing up to 31% of the total project budget while other partners will contribute 7%. The State contribution includes staff time, recording equipment, expert consultancy, design and layout for publications and printing, translation, distribution, artists’ fees, marketing and promotion, broadcast fees and so on;

A.6:   The proposed initiative involves knowledge sharing and capacity building with the communities concerned and youth (research mapping, strengthening networks, engaging experts, engagement with partners). The file highlights the collaborative nature of the project between the government and communities concerned, and indicated that the project’s collaborative mechanisms will provide a foundation for future safeguarding initiatives;

A.7:   Cambodia has not as yet benefitted from any International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund;

Consideration 10(a):     The proposed project is national in scope and involves national and local partners;

Consideration 10(b):     The file describes several multiplier mechanisms (the design of models for increased access to arts education in public schools; strengthening community transmission mechanisms; enhanced access to international sources of support) through the project’s proposed partnerships and enhanced visibility of the element.

  1. Decides to approve the International Assistance request from Cambodia for the implementation of the safeguarding plan for Chapei Dang Veng and to grant an amount of US$238,970 to the submitting State to this end;
  2. Requests the submitting State to work with the Secretariat at the earliest possible opportunity in order to clarify the budget breakdown and make sure that it corresponds exactly and is appropriate to the planned activities;
  3. Further invites the submitting State to use the ICH-04-Report Form to report on the use of assistance granted.

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