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Prumsodun Ok

Founder and Director, Prumsodun Ok and NATYARASA

TEDCRED 50+

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Building a self-sustainable cultural center that provides residency to non-profit arts organizations focused on diasporic arts in Long Beach

Priding itself as "The International City," Long Beach was once named as the most ethnically diverse large city by USA Today. It boasts the largest population of Cambodians outside of Southeast Asia centered around its newly formed Cambodia Town, an impoverished area with untapped human and cultural resources that is rife with interracial tension and gang violence.

There is an empty lot in the heart of this district and, in its place, I am envisioning an aesthetic and cultural landmark that I’m currently calling “Sala.”

A complex of buildings centered around a two-story pavilion modeled after the Chan Chhaya in Cambodia's Royal Palace, Sala would provide free residency — studio, office, and performance space — to select non-profit performing arts organizations at the forefront of preserving, transmitting, and expanding the traditional arts reflecting the demographics of Cambodia Town and the Anaheim Corridor.

Sala seeks to:
- Create a safe and respectful environment for intercultural dialogue and exchange, building a sense of trust and understanding, pride and responsibility through its many programs for youth and adults such as free dance, music, and language classes, performances, and special events
- Serve as a hub for the development and promotion of traditional and diasporic arts, empowering the community with the rich histories and alternative ways of looking at our world as embodied by these forms
- Break the cyclical narratives of poverty and violence which plagues the area by nurturing the next generation of artistic, economic, intellectual, and political leaders who act with a sensitive awareness of the past and present as well as a positive vision for the future
- Be self-sustainable by making its beautiful facilities available for rental as well as through revenues generated from Sala-initiated performances and events

I'd love feedback from urban planners, city officials, parents, citizens, artists, non-profits, philanthropists about this idea!

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