Phare, The Cambodian Circus is one of Cambodia’s most innovative social enterprise models. Profits generated through ticket, refreshment, merchandise and private performance sales support the free education, professional arts training and social support programs of Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang.
The Phare Story
More than just a circus, Phare shows are unlike any in the world: dance, theater, original live music and breathtaking circus arts are used to tell uniquely Cambodian stories from recent history, folklore and modern society.
Phare artists are graduates of Phare Ponleu Selpak, an NGO school and professional arts training center in Battambang, Cambodia.
Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPSA)
PPSA was founded in 1994 by nine young Cambodian men returning home from a refugee camp after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. At the camp they took drawing classes and found art to be a powerful tool for healing. When they returned home they began offering free drawing classes to street children. Soon they opened a school, eventually offering formal K-12 education and professional arts training in the areas of visual arts (illustration, painting, graphic design, and animation), theater, music, dance, and circus. Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily and 500 attend the vocational arts training programs. All programs are offered for free.
In 2013, with the aim of financial self-sufficiency, PPSA created Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE) with three missions:
- Create meaningful employment opportunities for Cambodian artists
- Create financially sustainable social businesses that provide a reliable income streams for Phare Ponleu Selpak
- Revitalise the arts sector in Cambodia and promote Cambodian art locally and internationally
Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE)
Phare, The Cambodian Circus
- Opened in February 2013
- Based in Siem Reap
- Nightly professional shows under a 330-person big top, 365 days a year
- Almost 75% of profit goes directly to PPSA
- Seen by over one hundred thousand people
- In the media: CNN, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, BBC News, AFP, and many more
- Organizers of the Tini Tinou International Circus Festival, the only circus festival in Cambodia
- Oversee Phare Boutique, which sells original paintings, drawings and music CDs from PPSA and local products made by Cambodian NGOs.
- Customized private events MICE, international performances, and tours across Europe, Asia and the USA
- Tour Highlights:
- Korea Ansan Street Arts Festival 2016
- “Khmer Metal” US Tour (California, Florida, DC and Virginia) 2015
- “Galaxy Khmer” at the HAU Theater Berlin, Germany and Bergen, Norway, January 2014
- Co-productions and artist placements:
- Co-production with Michael Laub’s Remote Control production: Galaxy Khmer
- Co-production with Global Arts Corps: See You Yesterday, World Tour 2016/2017
- Amon Miyamoto’s Terrace of the Leper King, Tokyo and Singapore 2016
- Clients: MasterCard, Porche, BMW, Land Rover Jaguar, Manulife, Prudential, Raffles, Sofitel, Le Meridien, NagaWorld, Give2Asia, Cambodian Royal Family, and more
- Launched in 2016
- Creating original content: 2D animation, graphic design and illustration
- Professional video and sound recording services
Our Social Investors
PPSE is a social business. It means that the organisation is designed and operated as a company but is guided by social-benefit principles. The majority of the profits go to support Phare Ponleu Selpak NGO school, or are reinvested into the business for sustainability and growth. PPSE is a Cambodian Private Limited Company owned: by Phare Ponleu Selpak, Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation, and by private investors.
As a social investor, The Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation facilitates the emergence of Social Business projects like ours and assists them in their development, alongside with other partners. The projects supported by the Foundation enhance access by the poorest to essential goods and services (nutrition, energy, health care, and financial services).