Historical Space of Gong Culture: In December 2018, cultural heritage experts from the Vietnam Institute of Culture and Arts Studies (VICAS) and other organisations led a series of sessions around the value of intangible cultural heritage in today’s context. The workshop was attended by 20 Mo H’ra villagers and representatives of provincial and communal management. As part of the programme, the community then worked together to build a collection of objects to be housed inside the village’s nha rong (a communal house where gatherings and ceremonies take place), exploring elements of both cultural traditions and everyday life of the Bahnar people. The exhibit was inaugurated in January 2019 and will be permanently on view at the village. 

The objective of this initiative is to support the community towards more regular participation and increased visibility of gong-related cultural practices.

Community Dialogue: Facilitated by VICAS, a dialogue session between Mo H’ra villagers and delegates from the provincial and communal Department of Culture, Sports and tourisms took place in January 2019, by way of strengthening the support for local traditional practices and heritage activities. The activity coincided with the inauguration of the Mo H’ra community museum. 

Heritage Trail: Implemented by the Vietnam Rural Industries Research and Development Institute (VIRI) – a Vietnam-based NGO working in community-based, cultural tourism – this initiative develops and delivers soft skills training based on local needs and provides basic infrastructure towards engendering sustainable tourism activities at Mo H’ra village, seeking to generate benefits for the villagers through said activities. 

Photo Voice Club for children and training of key persons in the community festival organisation: In partnership with VICAS, the Photo Voice Club for children at the Kong Long Klong Primary School in Gia Lai province was organised. This club activity offered local children an opportunity to learn to use the camera, to observe the practice of heritage music and other cultural heritage in their village, and to express their understanding, appreciation, and interest in the community heritage through their photography. The club attracted 21 children, of which 9 are girls. After learning the techniques and methods with a photography instructor and participating in other club activities, the children were given cameras to work on their own photography projects. Their photos were selected and presented at the community festival in February 2020.

At the same time, 19 key persons from the Kong Long Klong commune were given training on how to organise the local festival. This was part of the preparation for the Kong Long Klong community festival in February 2020. 

Community heritage festival in Gia Lai: In Feb 2020, VICAS together with the communities and authorities of Kông Lơng Khơng commune of K’bang district organised a community heritage festival. K’bang is the home district of Mơ H’ra, where VICAS has worked with the communities on multiple activities focusing on heritage space building, training in community heritage management and festival organisation, and where VIRI has supported local community with heritage tourism development. Prior to this festival, in the second half of 2019, 19 key persons (7 female, 12 male) from the Kong Long Klong commune were given training on how to organise the local festival. The festival was originally planned to take place at the community building that house the community heritage exhibition. The preparation process lasted several months, and the final location was decided to be at the district sports field to accommodate a large number of attendants. 

The festival took place for a full day on 1 Feb. Around 20 government officials from Kong Long Khong commune and K’bang district authorities, and close to 2,000 people from local communities. Festival programme featured the community gong performance ritual and an exhibition put together by the children Photo Voice club documenting community cultural heritage. Other activities are fun and game, food and drink and local souvenirs. 

The community museum project. Photo: Cao Trung Vinh
The community museum project. Photo: Cao Trung Vinh
The community museum project. Photo: Nguyen Duc Tang
Outside the traditional nhà rông and community museum. Photo: Nguyen Duc Tang