On Avenues for Healing, Empowerment, and the Advocacy of Freedom of Expression: Introducing our Training and Regional Events 2023 Grantees
9 / 11 / 2023

23 projects by 9 individuals and 14 institutions make up the Training and Regional Events group of grantees for the year 2023. Traversing diverse genres, ranging from festivals to training, workshops, research initiatives and events, these 23 projects aim to create avenues for healing, empowerment and the advocacy of freedom of expression.

The 2023 Training and Regional Events jurors, composed of Palestinian artist Yazan Alkhalili, Egyptian writer Omayma Abd Elshafi and Tunisian researcher Samia Laabidi, selected this slate of projects among 198 applications received. They expressed their impressions and findings following their deliberations through the below jury statement:

    Our deliberations were not only shaped by the remarkable diversity of the proposals but also by a shared recognition of the exceptional challenges facing artists and cultural practitioners in our region. Many of the projects we reviewed demonstrated resourcefulness in crafting community and peer-focused pathways to navigate the severe constraints imposed by the scarcity of funding, the global crackdown on dissent, and the stark absence of cultural infrastructure. This resourcefulness takes on added significance in a region grappling with simultaneous and unrelenting crises.

    Foremost in our priorities were projects that delved into the social fabric of our artistic and cultural work, carving out critical and reflective spaces to contemplate the past, dissect the present, and envision the future of our creative pursuits. We wholeheartedly recognize and encourage the critical potential of these projects, fostering hope for a renewed collective discourse and practices.

    We also shared a sense of urgency when it came to projects safeguarding and preserving our heritage in the face of deliberate erasure and destruction that disproportionately impacts regions such as Yemen and Palestine. These initiatives, championed by impassioned individuals, collectives, and institutions, have never been more pressing. We felt that it is our collective responsibility to support projects that center on cultural heritage preservation and activation throughout historic Palestine.

    Furthermore, we welcomed the contributions of researchers hailing from the region, who are investing in the shared history of our region and the Global South, serving as vital bridges between time and space. Support for projects originating from Syria was also a focal point, and we underscored the need to nurture the resilience of Syrian artists. Additionally, we recognized the growing constraints faced by Arab projects in their places of immigration and refuge and the significance of their support.

    We noted a significant presence of cinema festivals in the applications, prompting reflection on the necessity of tailored support schemes for these vital cultural events. We observed a strong emphasis on performance arts and training initiatives, particularly in the fields of dance and theater as avenues for healing, empowerment, and the advocacy of freedom of expression. We set out priority on supporting initiatives that challenged conventions and redefined the meaning of creating, training, and convening.

    Throughout our selection process, we championed cross-pollination, supporting projects that transcended geographical and disciplinary boundaries. We celebrated alternative approaches to thinking about our practices and reimagining the sustainability of artistic and cultural projects.

    We commend AFAC for its dedication to supporting artistic and cultural initiatives in the Arab world and express our gratitude for entrusting us with the task of selecting projects that reflect the resilience, creativity, and commitment of our region's artistic community.

    Our selection committee convened in Beirut on October 12 and 13 of 2023, while the criminal State of Israel was unleashing a genocidal assault on the besieged Gaza and escalating their ongoing mass ethnic cleansing campaigns. We stand united in total and unwavering solidarity with our people in Palestine in their rightful struggle for liberation, dignity, and justice.

Here is the full list of Training and Regional Events 2023 projects. To dive into the specifics of each selected artist or collective/institution and their projects, click through to their separate dedicated pages.