Cambodian Living Arts works towards a vibrant and dynamic arts scene is Cambodia. This month, we tell the story of Onn Sokny, co-director of Epic Arts in Kampot province and our former Living Arts Fellow.
Sokny is co-director of Epic Arts, a Kampot-based inclusive arts organisation that uses the arts as a form of expression and empowerment to bring people with and without disabilities together. She was born in Kampong Cham province, has a Bachelors’ in General Management, and in 2015 was selected as one of Cambodian Living Arts Fellows, taking part in a year-long programme of personal and professional development.
At Epic Arts, she co-manages the day-to-day running of the organisation, as well as working on the longer-term strategy and making sure that their vision and mission are applied in programming. She has spent 10 years with Epic Arts so far, and is a great believer that “Every Person Counts” – Epic’s motto – and that all people should be able to express themselves through arts. In her words, “I believe that arts is a platform we can enjoy freedom of speech and express what we want to do.”
Sokny noted the difficulties of changing the way that people think about disability, but believes the arts are a powerful way to both challenge these perceptions and provide freedom of expression to those living with disabilities, helping them to build their confidence and find the best in themselves.
She told us how important support – not only from family but also from society in general – is to motivate people with a disability to take part in more activities in their own communities and in wider society.
Looking forward, Sokny wants to influence policy-makers in order to develop more inclusive policies in arts, culture and education. She believes that arts play a huge role in changing people’s attitudes toward disabilities.
A big part of Epic Arts’ work is to promote the work of artists living with disabilities – through this they can help to change people’s opinions on a wider scale, and get more people to share the beliefs that “Arts are for Everyone” and “Every Person Counts”
She says, “Our work takes us a lot of time, but has a long-term impact. When people understand our work, they feel inspired and spread our message to the others.”
You can find out about Sokny and Epic Arts’s work at epicarts.org.uk or Facebook at Epic Arts @everypersoncounts
Find out more about Sa Sa Art Projects at sasaart.info.
To learn more about Cambodian Living Arts, find CLA on Facebook, @CamboLivingArts on Twitter, CambodianLivingArts on Instagram, or visit cambodianlivingarts.org.