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The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) is hosting a four-day workshop for artists, in partnership with FLAX (Foreign Local Artistic Xchange), and the Academy of Arts in Berlin. From 25-28 May, this Open Academy will include lectures, podium discussions, workshops and conversations in order to facilitate exchange among artists and with experts from the visual art and cultural sectors. The project mentors are Katharina Gross, Nasan Tur and Lanna Idriss. An open podium discussion on “Culture & Populism” will take place on 26 May at 7pm at the Academy of Arts to discuss the societal responsibility of art. 


The Flax Open Academy for Visual Arts will support approximately 50 artists who have recently come to Germany. The program is directed primarily toward artists from the Arab region, but will also welcome applicants from other countries. Offering insight into the mechanics of the system, meeting museum curators, gallerists, other artists and cultural workers from Europe and the Arab region, will simultaneously present an opportunity for first-hand exchange and dialogue. 


The events will, on the one hand, offer practical support: workshops are dedicated to the current funding- and educational possibilities for visual artists in Germany, while tutors will advise the participating artists in the presentation and promotion of their work. Individual portfolio reviews by established artists and visits to select galleries in Berlin will complement the program. At the same time, cultural roles and terminologies in Europe and the Arab region will be discussed: what experiences have Arab and international artists made with European exhibition practices? Is there a uniform conception of art, and if not, where do the differences lie?

An open forum discussion under the headline “Culture & Populism” will examine the role of artists, institutions and arts administrators against the backdrop of the global rise of populist trends (Friday, 26 May, 7pm, Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg). Participants include artists Karin Sander, Inaya Fans Hodeib, Nasan Tur and Adam Broomberg, who will also participate in the workshops as tutors.


AFAC is dedicated to strengthening exchange and communication between Germany and the Arab world through its cooperation with partners FLAX and the Academy of Arts. “Building on the experience and success of AFAC’s agility in responding to the difficulties Arab artists face with the circulation, visibility and dissemination of their work, we believe that our partnership with the FLAX Open Academy will engage in meaningful and impactful ways with the challenges that newly arrived visual artists contend with in Germany. Contact, communication and conviviality are essential to bridging understanding and creativity,” says Rima Mismar, AFAC’s Executive Director.


This engagement is part of a well-rounded initiative launched by the foundation, which is entering a series of cooperations with European cultural institutions during 2017, including the Berlinale, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Volksbühne. The goal is to bring together intellectuals, artists and cultural institutions from the Arab region with their counterparts in Europe, in order to counter intolerant populist voices with critical discourses and creative actions


The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) is an independent grant-making institution in the Arab world that has been supporting individuals and associations in the production of art and knowledge, and the development and promotion of a culture of philanthropy in the Arab world and its diaspora since 2007. AFAC’s decade-long  experience with nurturing creativity and freedom of expression in societies that are torn by conflict and facing radicalization and political turbulence, has  endowed it with extensive first-hand knowledge and a faith in the fundamental role of the arts and culture in countering morbid and sinister ideologies.

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