The application process, which is done through nomination, was launched in December 2021, and resulted in 79 nominations that in turn led to 27 effective applications by cultural entities from 11 Arab countries.
The seven ACE grantee institutions were selected by the ACE 2022-2023 jury committee comprising Moroccan cultural curator Yasmina Naji, Palestinian Cultural Manager Nisreen Naffa, and Egyptian artist Mohamed Allam, who deliberated for two days to review and assess the applications, and issued the following jury statement:
“We, the jurors, would like to start by thanking AFAC for this opportunity, and for instilling their trust in us for the evaluation of the ACE program’s submitted applications. And in this context, we would also like to extend our appreciation to AFAC for offering such a program catered to cultural institutions working in the Arab region. A program that is considered as an experiment in “learning and doing”, comprising different learning modules, one-to-one mentoring and an incentive grant.
It was a rich and enjoyable experience seeing applications from different artistic fields across the Arab region. We were happy to see many institutions with a great track record, that are still completing their paths despite all the ongoing challenges; as well as many emerging institutions, some of which were new to us. The application form had covered all aspects related to the applicants and provided sufficient information on the work of those institutions. However, we think it would be useful to provide further visual materials related to the applying institutions’ projects, especially when such institutions do not have a website. These supporting materials would give a clearer idea on the work they do.
We noticed a diversity in the applicants in terms of their fields of work and their geographic locations: 26% of the applicants were from Egypt, 18% from Palestine, 15% from Jordan, 11% from Morocco, 7% from Algeria and Libya, 4% from Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia. As for the fields of work, 44% of the applicants operate in multidisciplinary fields, 19% in film, 15% in visual arts, 11% in performing arts, 7% in literature and 4% in architecture. It was fulfilling to see some applying institutions interested and working in the areas of research, theory and publishing.
The diversity of the jurors’ backgrounds and geographic spread helped to guarantee the selection its richness, based on a set of selection criteria that included looking into the history and professional experience of the institutions and their staff; their good governance, main projects, vision, strategy, community engagement, financials; and looking into those applicants who are at a turning point of their institutional work, where they can benefit the most from the modules and mentoring offered by the ACE program.
We also noticed that most of the institutions who were part of the application process were young or new initiatives: 41% have been working in the field for around 2 to 5 years. Some of the applying entities are turning into institutions after starting as art projects; these might need more time in institutional development before they reap the full benefits of the ACE program. A good number of the institutions applying for this program have been integrating training and capacity-building initiatives within their work, and it brings us pleasure that most of the institutions selected to participate in ACE are managed by young people. It was also important for us to include institutions with varied experiences which could be shared during the program; older institutions could share with the younger ones, but also be stimulated by them. For future cycles, we recommend that institutions that operate online or virtually are taken into consideration as real entities that operate in different and new ways.
We wish the selected applicants a fruitful experience in the ACE program and the best of luck.”
The selected cultural entities are characterized by their work in the peripheries, by the decentralization of their operations to reach wider, more remote audiences, and by their young management. These entities hold the promise of a fruitful and productive fourth ACE cycle, whose trickle-down effect would be maximized for wider impact.
The Seven Entities to Receive ACE 2022-2023 Support
Leish Troupe | Syria | Performing Arts
Leish Troupe is a physical theater company based in Damascus. Their work brings together artists from different disciplines and creates long-term partnerships with artists and cultural institutions at the local, regional and international level.
Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center | Palestine | Multi-disciplinary
Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center (KSCC) is a leading Palestinian arts and culture organization that was registered as an NGO in 1996. Since its establishment, KSCC has played an important role in promoting arts and culture in Palestine, through fostering cultural heritage, creativity, and literary and artistic practices.
Megraya for Training and Arts Development | Egypt | Multi-disciplinary
Megraya for Training and Arts Development, founded in 2014, is a safe space for training, exhibition, and artistic and cultural production for children and youths in the northern Upper Egypt area. Megraya promotes the concepts of cultural and artistic identity of the area, and addresses social and cultural issues through artistic tools and contexts.
Editions Motifs | Algeria | Publishing
Editions Motifs’ name refers to motives that inspire action, but also to patterns that adorn and decorate. In their publications, Motifs try to combine these two aspects by proposing content which by the specificity of their format or tone, do not necessarily find a place in the Algerian literary and journalistic landscape.
Filmlab Palestine | Palestine | Film
Founded in 2014, Filmlab Palestine aims at expanding and cultivating the existing cinema culture within Palestine, while providing the much-needed technical and artistic support for emerging Palestinian filmmaking voices.
Tajarrod Architecture and Art Foundation | Libya | Visual Arts
Tajarrod focuses on research-based art and architecture projects that examine the dominant socio-cultural and disciplinary ideologies in Libyan society and beyond. Tajarrod's projects vary between the production of theoretical writings and investigations, exhibitions, workshops, as well as the organization of public dialogues and competitions.
Ishbilia for Arts Association-Ishbilia Theatre and Art hub | Lebanon | Multi-disciplinary
Ishbilia Theatre and Art Hub’s work is multidisciplinary and diversified. It includes performing arts, independent film screenings, training programs, and community-based events targeting community activists, students, artists, and cultural stakeholders to communicate, create, engage, and produce.