UNESCO unveils “Open Your Heart” art campaign to foster intercultural dialogue and tolerance during Covid-19 pandemic

On the International Tolerance Day, two months after UNESCO launched its art campaign  in Cambodia to counter xenophobia, stigmatization and disinformation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, more groups and organizations have been inspired to collaborate with each other to foster intercultural dialogue, mutual understanding and tolerance.

Leading national media houses Khmer Times and  Phnom Penh Post are working as a team to increase awareness for the art campaign, which can be viewed on the UNESCO Facebook page , to foster conversations amongst ambodians and people from different backgrounds.  The chalk-based art campaign commissioned by UNESCO in collaboration with the Social Business Unit of Havas Champagne was created by Bassac Studio Khmer French artists Annie and Thommy. It features a graffiti style interpretation of a dandelion and a combination of words (in both Khmer and English) and symbols.

The words have been selected to represent both the challenge, and a positive action or behavior inspired by the ‘Open Your Heart’ campaign theme. The underlying idea behind the dandelion is the fragility of life and the spread of the virus through the air.

The round shape and the seeds of the flower are also expressed as two parts of the campaign acronym symbol, which when combined with the heart shape icon results in the ‘Open Your Heart’ campaign theme.

It is hoped that the simple and easily copied letters and icons of the logo will allow for easy interactive community engagement. With the impermanence of the chalk, we also hope that the unfortunate negative social effects of COVID-19 will be washed away and be gone with the conclusion of the monsoon rains.

Popular coffee chain Brown Coffee, iconic office space Raintree Cambodia, and food establishments such as Farm to Table and Dutch&Bean Coffee are also lending a hand – and space – by featuring the artwork on their walls and chalkboards prominently situated on premise.  Brown Coffee, for example, features the artwork in their Roastery locations on Street 57 and Toul Kork.

According to Mr. Liv Chhoung, Managing Director at BROWN, BROWN has always been supporting the community spirit in any circumstance. Community to us is a where everyone feels belong regardless of their race, color, religion and sexuality. In this moment of time, it is more important than ever that we need to keep the community spirit and fight against Covid-19 together, not against any individual within our community. Therefore, we support the “Open Your Heart” Campaign to spread the love in our community.

Cambodian artists and celebrities Small World SmallBand, Suzana Reth, Kanhchna Chet, Shin Yubin and Sin Setsochhata are also working in partnership with UNESCO and Havas Champagne on the #DontGoViral  social media campaign to guide the public in navigating the information overload on the internet. SmallWorld SmallBand in particular have generously shared their anthemic “Flag Song” with UNESCO to strengthen the connection between Cambodians and people from various nationalities living in the Kingdom.

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