CAA Music class
As with every school and nearly every business in Cambodia, the Covid-19 virus has dealt a serious blow to our operations at Champey Academy of Arts. By late March the Cambodian government had ordered all government schools to close in order to prevent the spread of the virus and nearly all private schools then also closed and remain closed even now. Reluctantly, we closed Champey Academy for the last three weeks of April but then reopened by the first week of May. However, student attendance in May ran only about half of our usual rate because many parents, fearing that their children might be exposed to the virus, kept them at home and did not allow them to attend classes at Champey.
Now, as we enter the second week of June student attendance is slowly increasing as it becomes clear that, at least for the time being, Cambodia has avoided any serious impact from Covid-19. In fact, since the start of the contagion, a total of only about 120 cases of Covid-19 infection and no resulting deaths have been confirmed in Cambodia.
At this point it looks as though the greatest impact from the virus at Champey Academy will be on our revenues from tourist visitors and outside performances. The tourism high season in Cambodia runs from late October through mid April and during that time we welcome to Champey Academy foreign tourist groups on a daily basis. The guests pay a small admission fee and often also put something extra in the donation boxes at the school . This money covers a very significant portion of our operating expenses during each month of the tourism high season. However, this year, the government closed the country to most foreign nationals beginning from mid March and that meant that, at Champey Academy, we lost all of the revenues from foreign guests for the final four weeks of this year’s ‘high season.’ What’s more, because we expect that this year the start of the tourism high season will be delayed from October until at least the beginning of 2021, we are facing a loss of revenues from tourists which we estimate will be at least $12,000 to $18,000 or equal to approximately 20 to 25 per cent of our annual operating expenses.
In addition to the devastating loss of revenues from tourist visitors, Cambodia’s annual “wedding season” peaks in March and April and which usually brings a number of invitations for our dancers and musicians to perform at wedding parties. The revenue earned from outside performances at weddings combined with the occasional invitation to perform at hotels in Phnom Penh usually brings us at least a few thousand dollars each year so the cancellation of all of those events this year represents the loss of an additional approximately 5% of our operating budget.
Finally, every year in April, in the days preceding the annual Cambodian New Year, our students and teachers receive many invitations to perform a traditional New Year dance called the “Trot.” This dance is meant to bring good fortune in the New Year and so many businesses including hotels and even vendors in the city’s markets invite our team to perform it on their premises. Part of that New Year dance involves the passing of a cloth bag through the audience who are expected to put money into the bag in order further to insure their good fortune in the New Year. This year, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the government cancelled all Cambodian New Year celebrations so all of our invitations to perform the “Trot” dance were rescinded resulting in a further loss of $2,000 or more in income for our school and our students and staff.
In total, we anticipate that the impact of the global Covid-19 crisis on Champey Academy will be the loss of income equal to at least 30% of our annual operating expenses. This is a devastating blow and one from which it will be very difficult to recover. As a first step, we cut all of the staff members’ salaries by 15% effective from May 1. The loss of that portion of their salaries, while very painful for the staff, will save Champey Academy only about one quarter of our expected revenue loss this year.
As you can see, Champey has been deeply impacted, but we are hopeful that our students will return as the world adjusts to the " new nomal" and that Cambodia will see a return of turism. In the meantime, Champey faces seriousl challenges to keep is programs operating without interruption. We are deeply grateful to you, our donors for your continued support to help us to keep the school open. This school serves not only the children in our programs, but the small stipend and other family support is essential to the continued well being of many for many of our student's family.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Caa Dance Class