Today, we live in a schizophrenic world where instantaneous and global connectivity lives hand in hand with large-scale fragmentation along the fault lines of wealth and ideology. We are constantly made aware of the differences to the “Other” from across the fence. Our initial aspiration to explore, understand and accept those differences is ever more quenched by induced fears, by our desire to prevail and assimilate.
Cultural exchange has proven so far to be the most effective antidote to these divisive trends of modern times. What else could substitute that? Across borders, culture is a basic human expression that is traded actively by individuals and institutions alike to narrate, create, inspire, reflect on our shortcomings and celebrate our successes. It is through the rich diversity of cultural expressions, the mobility of artists and the advancement of artistic freedom that we stand the best chance to promote better understanding and transcend the difficult times we live today in our region.
Well into our 10th year of operation, we shall continue to support and advance the cause of independent cultural production as a main component of development for our societies, and encourage a larger segment of stakeholders to play a role in it. We shall critically reflect on our past years with the help of experts in the cultural field, and devise an ambitious strategy for the next 5 years to expand the footprint and impact of Arab artists and cultural institutions, locally, regionally and internationally.
Oussama Rifahi, January 2016