A major shift is unfolding at Phare Creative Services, the renowned Battambang-based creative studio. Once dedicated exclusively to non-profit projects for NGOs and social enterprises, the studio has officially announced its intention to expand its clientele to include private sector companies. The strategic change was made public on June 16, in the midst of a two-day economic mission hosted by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Cambodia.
Rooted in a rich history of social and artistic endeavors, Phare Creative Services originated as an offshoot of Phare Ponleu Selpak, also known as ‘Brightness of the Arts’. This non-profit arts school was established in 1994 by a group of nine Cambodian art students and their French humanitarian teacher, Véronique Decrop. The institution itself is an evolution of the art therapy classes Decrop initially started for children in a Thai border refugee camp during the 1980s. Over more than 25 years, Phare Ponleu Selpak has transformed into a diverse creative hub. One of its most notable ventures is Phare, The Cambodia Circus, launched in Siem Reap on February 8, 2013.
Private Companies Indirectly Contribute to Social Welfare
The extension into creative services seemed a natural evolution for the organization. Co-founders Chan Pagna and Vincent Buso, during a guided tour of their new office premises, spoke of the “greater space and potential” that this studio wing offers. Pagna, the project supervisor, elaborated on the studio’s diverse capabilities: “We’re not just limited to one or two creative sectors. We produce video, animation, illustration, and graphic design, and we’ve also been developing our expertise in communication and behavior change campaign strategy.”
Phare Creative Services currently employs 16 staff members and has an impressive client portfolio. Among their clients are international organizations like the World Food Programme, The Asia Foundation, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Population Services International, Agence Française du Développement, and CCI France Cambodge.
The studio’s development manager, Richard Sanviti, offered insights into what sets Phare Creative Services apart in a crowded marketplace. “We are a high-end content production house in Cambodia, but we are also a social enterprise under the umbrella of a well-recognized NGO. We hire beneficiaries from Phare Ponleu Selpak, and our profits are funneled back into this parent organization,” he stated.
The Studio Balances Profit Focus with Artistic Goals
Sanviti, who returned to Cambodia in October 2022 specifically for this role, further explained the dual advantage for companies opting to collaborate with Phare. “It’s not just about creating powerful visual communication; it’s also about aligning with Corporate Social Responsibility goals. Private companies that work with us indirectly contribute to social welfare, making it a win-win for all involved,” he said.
Moreover, Phare is setting its eyes on an international footprint, particularly in the realm of high-end 2D animation. “Our team of animators is skilled in the use of industry-standard software like Toon Boom, TV Paint, and Blender. We are positioned to provide outsourcing services for animation series and feature films to production studios in the U.S. and Europe,” Sanviti shared.
While profit-generating projects are a priority, the studio hasn’t abandoned its artistic ambitions. According to Morgane Darrasse, the studio’s communication manager, “We have been contemplating participating in international festivals by developing a signature animated short. Although our focus is currently on projects that generate revenue—which is subsequently redistributed to Phare NGO—we do have plans for original creative endeavors. A test run for this was the short animation we produced for the Khmer New Year, which received over 50,000 views on Facebook.”
This strategic pivot by Phare Creative Services marks a significant milestone in the Cambodian creative and commercial landscape. With its comprehensive range of services, socially responsible business model, and plans for international outreach, Phare Creative Services is well-positioned to become a formidable player in both the Cambodian and global markets.