Moments come around. My meeting with the Reasmey Angkor Opera Company on the side of the road where they had set up their mobile theatre in central Cambodia ended in tears. The director, Khmer Rouge survivor Len Chouen, sank to his knees in front of me with tears streaming down his cheeks begging me to help them. “We are starving. Our art will die. We are the last to know this form of opera. We will not be able to go on. Please help us.”
In ignorance, I didn’t know that they had been negotiating land mines, civil war, abandonment and the deaths of those around them to bring them to where they were that day near the temples of Angkor Wat. I didn’t know then that this form of opera goes back over 3,000 years with stories known to everyone in their culture. I could only relate immediately as another performer to those endeavoring to survive.
This is how Save World Art began, responding to cries from indigenous art forms around the World that may disappear forever unless nurtured and supported. Tears again the other day when the wife of a master silk weaver in Andhra Pradesh, India, following the suicide of her husband begged for help when the crippling debt had pushed him so far as to take his own life. The national economy is enriched by millions of dollars by the silk art but the creators are only paid a pittance that cannot permit them to feed their own families.
We are here to help. Time has gone by. The truck that carries the traveling theatre over the rutted roads of Cambodia can now no longer move. They need a new one in order to survive. The looms of the silk weavers no longer hum in India because the artists can no longer go on living. They need structure and business acumen. We are dedicated to our mission of preserving not only these arts and crafts but many others for the future.
The tears must not fall in vain.