Events in 2006
Showcase of Lao culture at the World Bank/IFC Cultural Center (March 30, 2006)
For the first time, Lao culture was on display at the World Bank. This event was a collaborative effort by LHF, the Lao American Women Association (LAWA), the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Asian American Forum, and Asia Society (Washington center). The event featured an overview presentation on Laos; unique people and way of life, diverse ethnic groups and rich history, followed by traditional dancing, music, and a fashion show of tribal apparel.
In attendance were His Excellency Phanthong Phommahaxay, Ambassador of Laos, who offered welcoming remarks, and the venerable Tiao (Prince) Somsanith, whose private collection of art and textiles was on display. Following his appearance at the IFC, Prince Somsanith hosted a reception at Sharon Fine Gallery the same evening.
By all accounts, the events were successful beyond expectation. The show ran without any glitches. The volunteers, mistress of ceremony, performers, and stage & technical crews worked in flawless synchronization. The exquisite performances and textiles thrilled the packed auditorium. The foundation received many heart-felt thank-you’s, words of encouragement, congratulations, ideas, and offers to help in our efforts to preserve and promote Lao culture and arts. The event was followed by a reception at the Sharon Fine Art Gallery.
Asia Alive Program at the Asian Art Museum (April 1-30, 2006)
Prince Somsanith demonstrated four forms of art at the San Francisco Museum of Art as part of the Asian Alive program. Each week he showcased a different type of art; stenciling for architectural decorations, gold thread embroidery, and banana leaf ceremonial flower arrangements for festivals and daily use.
On Saturday, April 22, 2006, the museum hosted a Lao New Year Ceremony of Prayers and Good Wishes for guests and the Bay Area Lao community in celebration of Lao New Year. Tiao Somanith prepared the flower arrangements for the ceremony. The elders of the community presided over the ceremony and gave blessings to all that attended the event.
Temple Decorating Project in Richmond, CA (April-May 2006)
With help from the local Lao community, Prince Nithakhong Somsanith decorated the Richmond temple with motifs that he had brought from Luang Prabang. The project involved educating the community the art of creating and applying stenciling to temple walls using gold-leafs and lacquer. The success of this project was evidenced by the overwhelming support and assistance that the community provided to the artist. He instilled an increased sense of pride not only in the temple itself, but also in Lao culture and art. With only a few weeks’ work, the temple was not completely decorated. As a result, Prince Somsanith will return to Richmond in 2007 to complete the decoration.
Second Annual Benefit Dinner (October 21, 2006)
This year’s dinner was a success. The house was packed. The food was delicious. The guests were entertained with traditional music and dance, as well as ‘lum wong’ and raffling. Our sincere gratitude, once again, to those who attended, were with us in spirit, and donated time, food, and money. We raised a net of $2,400, which will go towards cultural promotion and education in 2007. Part of the funds raised will be used for paying travel expenses for one college student from the Washington, D.C. area and five traditional dancers from the Kinnaly troupe of Seattle, WA to the Second International Conference on Lao Studies. These are experienced dancers of high school and college age, who will benefit from being exposed to their culture in an academic setting. The remaining funds will go towards travel expenses for five traditional musicians from various cities, primarily in California, to next year’s cultural event(s) in the Washington D.C. area. These musicians are well-known in their own communities and are eager to share their culture with other communities.