Looking at European-style classical music, we might find some inspiration for our own future processes and goals from Chamber Music America, who offers funding for the composition of new work, including the composer's fee (awards of $5,000 to $20,000 each), the ensemble's rehearsal honorarium ($1,000 per ensemble musician), and copying costs (awards of up to $1,000 each).
Unfortunately, there are few parallel resources in the Lao community in America, with the exception of the Lao Heritage Foundation, which does not presently offer scholarships, fellowship or similar funding for Lao classical artists in America.
But how wonderful it would be if every year, even if for just a decade, we could be certain there were funds to truly support musicians getting the time to fully practice their craft and build a love for it in our community.
Looking at the Chamber Music America model, they define chamber music as music for small ensembles (two to ten musicians) whose members perform one to a part, generally without a conductor. Compositions may represent a diverse musical spectrum including contemporary art music, world music, and works that include electronics. New works created through this program must be performed a minimum of three times in the United States.
From a Lao American point of view, this should be of significant interest to our community. A full classical Lao orchestra would have around ten to twelve musicians, although some circumstances may allow fewer to perform depending on space and other variables.
To my knowledge, Souphine Phathsoungneune is one of the only Lao composers in the US to receive substantial recognition and a commission to create one Lao opera which was performed in Vermont in 2004. To be honest, given the size of the Vermont community, this surprises me, and I would think particularly for larger Lao communities elsewhere should serve as a positive example of finding support for our classical composers.
But of course, across the country, Lao Americans really have to begin asking the right people to help these efforts, and understand for themselves what the value will be for us years and centuries from now as we define ourselves as a people and as a community speaking to other communities.