Research on the Arts Program


The Research on the Arts Program (RAP) is a joint program between the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) which aims to support research on all artistic practices across disciplinary boundaries and methodological approaches on key themes of concern to, and in, the Arab region*.

The program is co-funded by AFAC and the ACSS (funds to the ACSS are provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). Grants are available to individual researchers (up to USD 15,000), teams of researchers or collectives (up to USD 25,000), and institutions (up to USD 35,000).

RAP seeks to promote and develop the field of research on the art in the Arab region, a geographical and cultural space rich with art legacies and contemporary art practices waiting to be researched and analyzed. It seeks to empower the production of different kinds of academic and artistic knowledge that adds value to the field. Open to artists, practitioners and academics, RAP encourages these to undertake critical research on different aspects of the arts using experimental approaches that seek to create new openings in understanding art and culture in the region (RAP Selection Committee, 2020). RAP supports research on the arts, with an interest in what it reveals about aesthetics, and what it uncovers about society, as well as the interplay between them. Social, economic and political contexts matter, and we encourage social scientists and artists working collaboratively or independently to engage with the surrounding environment and examine the role of artists and the arts in the wider community. We are interested in research that unpacks art as a subject of study, as well as the role of social, economic and political processes in shaping artistic practices, production and dissemination, and vice-versa.

RAP is open to a wide range of writing and research strategies and a variety of audiences. However, the research output must include a written component, where concepts and theory, context, connections, reflections, and systematic investigations are shown and communicated. The program aims at canvassing a broad range of research proposals from across different countries, disciplines and professions. We also highly encourage analytical research that studies more than one country or region, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral collaborations, and comparative perspectives.

Exciting proposals are those that contribute critical knowledge, that crosses disciplinary boundaries between arts, the social sciences and other disciplines.

Examples of the areas that can be addressed include but are not limited to:

  • Arts as part of everyday life
  • Historical and contemporary art practices
  • The temporality and spatiality of artistic practices and related knowledge production
  • History of art
  • Folk art
  • Arts and the environment
  • Research on archives related to the arts
  • Art and the state
  • Pop culture
  • Meaning and impact of art
  • Art in exile
  • Genres of artistic writing
  • Forms and functions of artistic works
  • Art/society relationships
  • Suppressed and marginalized art histories and practices
  • Artistic production, circulation, consumption and audience



Applicants must be citizens of an Arab country (defined as a member of the League of Arab States) or nationals of an Arab country (defined as long-term residents, even if they do not hold citizenship as in the case of refugees or stateless residents) and must be based in the Arab region.

In the case of teams and collectives, the team leader must be a citizen/national of an Arab country and must be based in the Arab region. However, teams, collectives and institutions may include Arabs in the diaspora or non-Arabs, yet at least two members of the team/collective/institution must be citizens/nationals of an Arab country and must be based in the Arab region. Institutions must be based and registered in the Arab region. (Branches of foreign international organizations are not eligible to apply.)


This program is open to researchers from diverse backgrounds in the arts, humanities and social sciences, as well as allied fields. Arts and humanities disciplines include art history, comparative literature, contemporary art, curatorial studies, fine arts, graphic design, architecture, languages and literature, folklore studies, media studies, musicology, performance arts, and visual arts. The core social science fields include disciplines such as anthropology, demography, economics, history, political science, psychology and sociology. Allied fields include education, gender studies, cultural studies and urban studies. Interdisciplinary proposals are encouraged.

Individuals, Teams, Collectives and Institutions

The program is open to individual researchers/artists/practitioners, research teams, as well as collectives of researchers and institutions (universities, research centers, arts centers, research NGOs, etc.). For the purposes of this call:

  • Individual researchers could be academics or art practitioners
  • Research teams include researchers from the same or different institutions, geographies and disciplines, as well as a combination of researchers, artists and art critics, who have an interest in conducting multidisciplinary research on the arts
  • Collectives are independent groups of researchers or artists and/or blended teams of researchers and artists that have been working collaboratively on a specific theme for years and have a mission statement, a set of practices or a set of outputs that reflect their identity and purposes
  • Institutions could be a university or a university department, a think-tank, a research NGO, an arts and culture institution, etc.

Research teams, collectives, and institutions must present their applications in teams of up to four members, including a principal investigator and co-investigators.

Educational Requirements


An applicant should be:

  • A holder of a Ph.D. degree in one of the disciplines or fields described above; or
  • An art practitioner with extensive practical experience

Teams, collectives and institutions

  • Teams and collectives may comprise up to four research team members
  • Team structure may take one of two forms:
    - A PhD holder (principal investigator) in one of the disciplines or fields described above, and up to three team members including MA degree holders (at least) and/or art practitioners
    - An art practitioner with extensive experience (principal investigator) and up to three team members including MA degree holders (at least) and/or art practitioners

ACSS grantees (principal and co-investigators) who have benefited previously from an ACSS grant are only eligible if their grants were closed before 2020. AFAC grantees who have a current open grant are not eligible to apply.


Grants are for the duration of 18 months for individuals, teams and collectives (starting February 2022 and ending July 2023) and for up to 24 months for institutions (starting February 2022 and ending February 2024).


This program supports research projects at any stage of their development. Research proposals can be submitted for new or ongoing projects.


The proposed outputs of the project must be commensurate with the research plans and must include a substantial written component, such as publications (web and/or print) and scholarly resources (e.g. visual products, websites, databases, curricula, bibliographies, maps, policy briefs). Additional outputs can include performances, exhibitions, and installations, etc. We also encourage new and creative forms for disseminating knowledge. Creative forms could include a colloquium on the arts in the Arab region that initiates dialogue between artists and social scientists, as well as audiences.

For the purposes of this program, films and documentaries are not considered as suitable project outputs.


1. Applicants are required to submit an online application form and a narrative proposal (including appendices and supporting material) on the AFAC website. If you’re already a registered user on AFAC’s website, please login with your username and password. Once you login, please visit the program's page to apply. In case you don’t have an existing account, please create one here.
Completed proposals can be uploaded to the application portal at any time before the application deadline on August 31, 2021 by 5:00 pm (Beirut time). Please abide by the Application Checklist.

2. In addition to submitting the application form on AFAC’s website, applicants must fill out a profile page on the ACSS Website.

Proposal materials can be submitted in Arabic, French or English. Proposals and attachments should be written entirely in one of these languages; mixing different languages in the same proposal disqualifies the application. Only complete proposals will be examined by the Selection Committee. Final proposals should include all information and details necessary for the Selection Committee to understand the research ideas, argument, contribution to knowledge, fieldwork and publications plan. The final proposal should be between 7 to 10 typed, 1.5 spaced pages in length (12-point font). This 10-page limit does not include the proposal appendices, including the project timeline and outputs, budget request, and curriculum vitae (see below).


A multi-disciplinary Selection Committee - composed of distinguished Arab scholars and art practitioners with established research and publication records and experience in regional research and teaching - will review and select proposals for funding. The selection procedures abide by the highest standards of academic and ethical judgment. Final decisions are based on the following evaluation criteria:

  1. Contribution to knowledge: How does the project contribute to new knowledge on the arts? How does the knowledge produced fill gaps, cross over, connect, open up and bridge fields and sectors?
  2. Significance, originality and relevance to the region: Why is it important to undertake this research? How is it different from other works in the area? How is it relevant to needs and priorities in the Arab region?
  3. Artistic approaches or methods (including attention to research ethics): Does the researcher adopt novel tools and methods to undertake the research? Are they appropriate to the research questions and objectives? Does the researcher take into consideration ethics in undertaking the research?
  4. Outputs, plans of dissemination: Does the researcher have appropriate and realistic outputs as well as sound and effective dissemination plans? Is the researcher targeting new audiences? How do the findings impact different communities?
  5. Feasibility (CVs/researcher’s qualifications/timeline/budget)
  6. Extra points will be given to projects that promote dialogue between academia and practice and adopt inter- and cross-disciplinary approaches

Results will be communicated to applicants by November 2021. Successful applicants will receive provisional award letters confirming their selection. If applicable, selected applicants will receive requests for clarification and elaboration from the Selection Committee.


Awarded individuals, teams of researchers, collectives or institutions are expected to abide by the following project requirements:

  1. Submit a revised proposal, timeline, and budget request by December 2021, responding to requests for clarification or elaboration put forward by the Selection Committee in its preliminary acceptance decision.
  2. Fill out the research ethics questionnaire.
  3. Sign a contract which specifies the budget, timeline, outputs, and obligations of the researcher(s).
  4. Attend a workshop during January 2022 to meet the Selection Committee members, present projects for feedback, receive orientation about AFAC-ACSS reporting and financial and ethics procedures, and sign their grant contracts. In the case of teams, collectives and institutions, the principal investigator and one of the co-investigators are required to attend the workshop. (Costs of attendance at this event should not be budgeted for in the proposals. They will be covered directly by AFAC and the ACSS.)
  5. Attend and present at the sixth ACSS Conference to be held in Spring 2023. (Costs of attendance at this event should not be budgeted for in the proposals. They will be covered directly by AFAC and the ACSS.)
  6. Produce project-related content for the ACSS and the AFAC websites (such as project descriptions and profiles of researchers).
  7. Submit interim narrative and financial reports. Financial reports should include the original receipts for all project expenses.
  8. Submit the final narrative and financial reports within 30 days of the end of the grant term.
  9. Produce the outputs identified in the submitted proposal in accordance with the project timeline (Appendix 1).


  • June 1, 2021: Application material available online.
  • August 31, 2021: Final and complete research proposals are due by 5:00 pm (Beirut time). Incomplete proposals will not be reviewed by the Selection Committee.
  • November 2021: Decisions will be communicated to applicants.
  • December 2021: Submission of final proposals revised according to the Selection Committee’s comments.
  • January 2022: Workshop in Beirut.
  • February 1, 2022: Projects may begin upon signature of the contract between selected grantees, ACSS and AFAC.
  • Spring 2023: Sixth ACSS Conference takes place in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • July 2023: Projects for individual researchers, research teams and collectives must be completed.
  • February 2024: Projects for institutions must be completed.

Prospective applicants may approach both AFAC and the ACSS with questions about any aspect of the call. Please email both AFAC ( AND the ACSS Grants and Fellowships Unit (

Please review the program's Frequently Asked Questions prior to submitting your application.

*(For the purposes of this program, the Arab Region is defined as the 22 countries that are officially members of the League of Arab States. This includes: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.)

About the Arab Council for the Social Sciences
The Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) is a regional, independent, non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening social science research and knowledge production in the 22 countries of the Arab region as well as the diaspora. By supporting researchers and academic/research institutions, the ACSS aims to contribute to the creation, dissemination, validation and utilization of social science research, and to enhance the role of social science in Arab public life and inform public policy in the region. The four main principles guiding the ACSS are quality, inclusivity, flexibility, and independence. Its programs include grants, fellowships, conferences, research forums, training workshops and publications.

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