Art & Social Action: Case Studies from the Mekong Region
by Akemi MINAMIDA
This study reports on the case of Klongtoey D-Jung (hereafter “KTD”), a group organizing a community music movement in the Khlong Toei district, the largest slum in Bangkok, from the perspective of arts management. In this study, semi-structured interviews were conducted a total of four times, each lasting for about two hours, from February to April 2021. In addition, to supplement the semi-structured interviews, questions were asked as needed via social media. The interviewees were Siriporn Pomwong, the leader of KTD and co-author of this paper, Staff Member B, and two child participants (C and D). Since none of the interviewees spoke English well, Paritta-anong Tawanwiwattanagul, who worked as a coordinator for Djung Space Network, stepped in as an interpreter.
Khlong Toei, one of the fifty administrative districts in Bangkok, is the largest slum area in the city. Since the early twentieth century, people from northeastern Thailand have moved into Khlong Toei and “formed the area along with the progress of the construction of the Khlong Toei Port along the Chao Phraya River” (Yasuhiro Hitomi: 2013: 101). The administrative district covers an area of 8,121 rai, of which 2,357 rai, or about 29%, is owned by the Port Authority of the Ministry of Transport, which operates the Port of Bangkok (Tatsuya Hata: 2014); the slum dwellers occupy and live on land owned by the Port Authority.
There are 26 slums in the Khlong Toei district and four communities in the slums where KTD operates. There are 1,444 households with 5,013 people, of whom 1,207 are children. The main social issues in Khlong Toei are housing, poverty, education, drug abuse, and domestic violence. In particular, the drug problem is extremely serious, with 98% of families involved in the drug market. Education is also a deep-rooted problem: while 50% of the children attend junior high school, only 2% make it to high school or college. The slums in Khlong Toei are already in the second and third generation, creating a negative cycle. For this reason, the number of NGOs in Khlong Toei is the largest in Thailand.