Creative Arts Education Centre, Cambodia

M’Lop Tapang Creative Arts Education Centre works with the street children of the Sihanoukville area, Cambodia. To boost their self-esteem and ease a transition from the street into the classroom, the teachers apply creative arts and performance.

Project Aims

The Hooker Family Foundation USA (previously as Foundation For Kids) funded the renovation and expansion of M’Lop Tapang’s Creative Arts Education Centre in Sihanoukville, Cambodia in 2009. The new Arts Department is now equipped with enough space and storage to house all the costumes, props and instruments, as well as providing change room facilities and enough rehearsal space for the rock band.

The new Arts Department aims to:

Give children a space to create and have fun.

Be managed entirely by youth, with the supervision of skilled teachers, within 3 years of operation.

Support attendance of 20-120 children each day, and serve over 1,000 children annually.

Our Approach

By supporting the expansion of this Center, HFF supports our partner’s new generation of students.

Young adults (16+) who perform traditional Apsara Dances, Chai Am drumming shows at local venues are supported in their activities. These children were all living on the streets; now all fully reintegrated into public schools and society. By performing their arts and music, they supplement their family’s income in a safe and sustainable way, without compromising their education. Children perform and write plays, enhanced by their life experiences. Some are not only funny and original, but also hard-hitting when addressing existing problems.

Activities carried out at the Centre include:

  • Music school, gymnastics, circus, theatre, painting, video editing and creating, singing.
  • Imaging center equipped with computers to make movies and graphic design.
  • The Center yearly prepares the Street Carnival and Concerts. Students get busy designing costumes and props for the shows as well as rehearsing circus acts, skits and dance numbers to perform in front of hundreds of spectators.

Working in Partnership

M’Lop Tapang has been working with the street children of Sihanoukville since 2003 and currently works with over 1,200 families and over 3,500 children at ten specialised centres. The Centres provide shelter, medical care, sports, arts, education, training, counselling, family support and protection from all types of abuse.


The renovation of the Creative Arts Education Centre continues to benefit more than 400 Cambodian children who regularly participate in arts activities through M’Lop Tapang’s arts program each month.

In 2010:

  • More than 125 children actively participated in drawing and painting classes.
  • 321 Cambodian children and youth participated in music classes.
  • 73 Cambodian kids took part in circus classes.
  • 317 children and youth participated in traditional dance classes. 90 children also participated in modern dance classes.
  • 14 performances were held for-profit at local Sihanoukville businesses. For each of these performances the older youth were paid for their services.
  • 35 events were held that featured children and youth from M’Lop Tapang’s arts programs that included monthly performances at the Arts Center, the 2010 Carnival and Street Parade, and special performance put on for visiting groups of visitors.

Case Study: Samnang, 16 years old

Samnang and his little sister were introduced to our partner, M’Lop Tapang by their mother. She was left to raise her children on her own and had no income to support her family. Samnang faced the same future as thousands of his peers: begging, scavenging and increased vulnerability towards drug addiction and sexual abuse.

Thanks to his mother and his own will to learn and be happy, Samnang goes to school regularly and learns circus and music at the Arts Center. Samnang is now a member of a band at the Center where he sings and plays percussion.

He performs regularly with the Circus and Dance Income Generation troupe at various venues in Sihanoukville, allowing him to showcase his talents and earn a safe income to help support his family.

Samnang is also a member of the Street Volunteer Network and helps to engage his peers in art activities. Samnang’s passion for arts and performing, and dedication to learning make him an excellent role model for other young people involved in arts at the Center.