Message from the Director

Leading an institution like the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture is a passion and a responsibility. We are young but established; medium in size but instrumental for the independent arts and culture scene in the Arab region and in diaspora. In looking back at the past ten years with our grantees, jurors, donors, board members, partners and cultural practitioners, we have received overwhelmingly heartwarming feedback about the impact and the standards that AFAC has set.

We have been the privileged accomplice to the surge in creativity that the Arab region has been witnessing for more than a decade. The artists we have supported have steadfastly defended freedom of expression, tolerance and justice. They have created a body of work rich in fresh narratives that live up to the complexity of our region, as opposed to the reductionist and negative portrayals in mainstream media. And it is with this confidence that those artists and intellectuals have bestowed upon us that we hold our grounded belief that actions in the creative fields are profoundly meaningful and impactful. We are confident that supporting platforms and projects that probe and explore imagination and creative expression holds keys to shifting perceptions and perspectives.

The collective affirmation about AFAC’s indispensable role in creating spaces for artists to grow, explore and experiment compels us to continue this momentum and also to reflect on how to position AFAC in a wider context. We continue to gauge the pulse in the arts and culture scene and strive to remain relevant in how we respond to realities and priorities.

We have achieved a lot in the past ten years, processing more than 10,000 applications and supporting 1,130 projects to date. And we can achieve more with more support. We aim to strengthen distribution and outreach, building on ten years of production. We want to encourage research about arts and culture to generate and accumulate knowledge. We intend to offer cultural institutions entrepreneurial and innovative mentoring and support. We aspire to create programs for under-developed art forms such as critical and creative writing. We want to do all this and more in the coming years and to rely on a wider network of supporters who can accompany us, even if it is with a little, but for a long way.

We appreciate our generous contributors – both individual and institutional- without whom, such an independent scene would be hard to come by; we marvel at the passion and engagement of artists and cultural institutions; and we acknowledge the insight and reflections of our jurors. Investing in our mission is an investment in the future of our region and an empowerment of the creative sector that presents itself today more than ever as the only possible space for dialogue, criticism, diversity, tolerance and understanding.

Rima Mismar, December 2018