“Unlike a car or a fridge, a cultural product is also an expression of some kind of collective memory,” said AFAC’s Chairman and former Lebanese minister of culture Ghassan Salamé, commenting on the insufficiencies of commodification during his interview by The Daily Star’s Jim Quilty.
The two met during Salamé’s most recent visit to Beirut to chair AFAC’s end-of-year board meeting and host AFAC’s first gala dinner event. Quilty’s presents Salamé’s perspectives on the importance of arts and culture for society and his description of AFAC’s work, past and future. Salamé also talks about the problems faced by the cultural sector in the Arab region in general, highlighting the less-than-ideal relationships of both government agencies and market forces on arts and culture.
Salamé points out that the role of initiatives like AFAC is “to compensate for the state’s extremely ambiguous relationship to culture and the market’s extreme distortion of culture” and concludes that “culture is more like industry than it is commerce. You have to invest over the long run.”
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