Phare, The Cambodian Circus is one of Cambodia’s most innovative social enterprise models. Profits generated through ticket, refreshment, merchandise and private performance sales support the free education, professional arts training and social support programs of Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang.
The Phare Story
More than just a circus, Phare shows are unlike any in the world: dance, theater, original live music and breathtaking circus arts are used to tell uniquely Cambodian stories from recent history, folklore and modern society.
Phare artists are graduates of Phare Ponleu Selpak, an NGO school and professional arts training center in Battambang, Cambodia.
Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPSA)
PPSA was founded in 1994 by nine young Cambodian men returning home from a refugee camp after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. At the camp they took drawing classes and found art to be a powerful tool for healing. When they returned home they began offering free drawing classes to street children. Soon they opened a school, eventually offering formal K-12 education and professional arts training in the areas of visual arts (illustration, painting, graphic design, and animation), theater, music, dance, and circus. Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily and 500 attend the vocational arts training programs. All programs are offered for free.
In 2013, with the aim of financial self-sufficiency, PPSA created Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE) with three missions:
- Create meaningful employment opportunities for Cambodian artists
- Create financially sustainable social businesses that provide a reliable income streams for Phare Ponleu Selpak
- Revitalise the arts sector in Cambodia and promote Cambodian art locally and internationally