As a resident of Phnom Penh and contributor to the art scene for many years I grew frustrated by the rapid changes to the city. I was interested in creating a platform for artists, architects and creatives to voice their own response to these changes while at the same time putting art in public spaces across the urban landscape.
I reached out to my community in the arts and social development to collaborate on a festival. Starting with my own space Java Creative Café (known as Java Café & Gallery at the time) it grew quickly to include Institute Français du Cambodge (known as Centre Culturel Français at the time), Meta House and Friends International.
Over the years it grew to include many artists, architects and arts organizations. In the final year 2014 the festival spread across three cities: Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap. We had a team of curators, arts managers and volunteers to produce hundreds of events. Our City Festival was described as:
“Initiated in 2008 by Java Arts, Our City Festival acknowledges Cambodian cities accelerated urban changes and its intersection with the surge of activity in contemporary arts. Presenting art and architecture themed exhibitions, events, performances, screenings, educational talks and tours and workshops, OCF examines Cambodia’s present, remembers its past and envisions its future through a creative vision.
It has operated as a creative and critical exploration of the city’s urban trajectory whilst seeking to reflect on change and document them through artistic response and expression.
It is a platform for Cambodian creatives to celebrate their own voice, create their own vision, ignite their imaginations and be exposed to a diverse and engaging audience.”