Our keen guardianship of AFAC’s independence and professionalism marks us now, 7 years on, as a successful example of cultural philanthropy for the Arab region. AFAC is setting a strong example of transparent grant-making; every penny is accounted for and there are no cutting corners or under-the-table agreements when it comes to influencing grant distribution. The process is streamlined and AFAC relies on independent juror committees for its grantee selections.
Moreover, the smooth process of grant-making has allowed AFAC to widen its means of support to include opportunities for professional training and industry-networking to benefit artists together with financial sustenance. If creativity is to flourish, both funds and exposure are needed, and there is no lack of either for the Arab region. Nevertheless, the independent and simultaneously regional scope of AFAC’s work is both its greatest strength and its weakness since it becomes all the more challenging to secure committed supporters of our vision.
Creativity and talent are often not tangible. As our era is increasingly materialistic, it is difficult for people to quickly grasp the significance of what we do since we are investing in people, in ideas, in experiences and discussions; not in acquisitions, events or tall buildings.
Furthermore, AFAC gives full respect and copyright ownership of the products created with its grants to the artists themselves; it is part of our emphasis on empowering creativity and supporting an independent cultural sector.
While AFAC is playing a unique and much-needed role in the Arab region as a professional grant-maker, the fact remains that the majority of AFAC's funding comes from Non-Arabs. This is unacceptable and needs to change.
Over the past few years, the ratio of Arab funding has gradually increased, but it is now more urgent to ramp up these efforts. As the region seeks to redefine its future and its values, we must remember and strategize to keep a primacy of place for the field of arts and culture. Only in creative expression can there be hope for the region to renew itself as a resilient and tolerant society, with all its multi-faceted diversities.
Dr. Ghassan Salamé, January 2014