Empowering independent cultural production is crucial for creating a vibrant Arab society. As the region, and, indeed, the world at large, is increasingly marked by extremism, polarization and violence, it is by supporting individual self-expression with no strings attached that we engender critical thought, inclusive social engagement, appreciation of excellence and foster of cross-cultural collaborations. These are the actions needed to promote a deeper understanding of the region’s complex realities and to rise above the reductionist portrayals found in mainstream media.
Maintaining our independence as a regional, accessible and professionally run resource for artists of the Arab region is of utmost importance. Governments have long held a strong grip on cultural production, allowing it to flourish in the direction of national allegiance while neglecting innovative approaches to art and reprimanding critical artistic expressions. Creative production is also driven by consumerist marketing strategies of general mass-appeal. Art that is free of government control and market influence is rare in the Arab region. Yet this is the art that will shed light on issues left in the dark and that will revive the region’s confidence in its own creativity and its own youth.
Dr. Ghassan Salamé, January 2015