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Phase I : Pilot project in Luang Prabang

Findings and Recommendations

The most important lesson learned is that the survival and revival of traditional temple arts and building crafts within the Buddhist sangha is (still) achievable. In Luang Prabang we were just in time to catch some of the former spirit and skills. In other areas, if we wait too long, we might just be too late and miss this great opportunity.

Sustainability is not achieved overnight. Training centres anywhere in the world are in general not self-sustainable. Some sort of structural financial support is needed. Ideally, this will be a combination of income generation through the project activities, supplemented by external structural financial support from i.e. the national or provincial budget, the ‘heritage fund’, which is currently under development as part of another UNESCO-NORAD project or to link up with an existing institution.

It is clear that although it is achieving many of its objectives, the project is not yet sufficiently integrated within the local community, either secular or Buddhist. The final goal was and still is to embed the project within the Buddhist Sangha in order that the former tradition of learning Buddhist temple arts and crafts within the temple context is fully re-invigorated. To do so, it will be necessary to create and put in place innovative and more contemporary mechanisms which will guarantee the project’s long-term sustainability.

The three primary challenges of the project are:

  • To institutionalize the current project within the provincial structure;
  • To continue building the capacity of local stakeholders in order to ensure that the project is fully integrated into the community of Luang Prabang, especially in the Buddhist community;
  • To prepare for the transfer of the local ownership of the project to the local Buddhist Sangha.

As a result of these lessons learnt, the objectives of Phase II have since been expanded to address these three challenges.

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