The two day donors meeting was held between February 25 – 26, 2013 at the Swedish Institute in Alexandria, Egypt. Some 27 individuals were in attendance, representing 18 different institutions, cultural centers and embassies working to support contemporary arts and culture across the Arab region. The meeting also served as an inspiring visit to a thriving city and cultural capital of the Arab region.
Speaking on the ‘Status of the Arts and Culture Sector after the Arab Spring,” the first session was moderated by AFAC’s Oussama Rifahi in discussion with Alma Salem of the British Council and the group. The donors took stock of what has been achieved in the past two years in terms of cultural production and policy comparatively across the region and examined challenges, threats and opportunities arising from the latest changes in the region.
The session on “Best Practice: Artist as an Active Citizen” was moderated by Tarek Abou el-Fetouh from the Young Arab Theater Fund with reflections shared by Tanja Lubbers and Arthur Steiner of Hivos. Two case studies from cultural practitioners working on the ground opened the session: AFAC-grantee Nora Amin and her nation-wide Theater of the Oppressed project and the Fan al-Midan festival project. The two artists/activists provided valuable insight on what drives artists to be engaged in social change.
The question of “Achieving Sustainability” was addressed in the afternoon session, moderated by Moukhtar Kocache with reflections from Laila Hourani of Ford Foundation, Philip Dietermacher of ECF and Arthur Steiner of Hivos with a recap of the first day’s meeting was presented by Eleonora Insalaco of the Anna Lindh Foundation. A visit to the cinema museum “Gudran for Arts and Culture” wrapped up the first day.
Day two of the meeting delved deeper into “The effect of the current political transformation on grant making in arts and culture” moderated by Laila Hourani of the Ford Foundation followed by a discussion on “The impact of the Global Economic crisis on cultural funding” moderated by Jacob Myschetzky of the Danish CKU. The meeting concluded with discussions and recommendations for improved cooperation between the present donor representatives moderated by Noha al-Mikawy of the Ford Foundation. The closing event was a visit to the Teatro Eskendereya, a versatile cultural space and AFAC grantee which hosted its first “Backstreet Festival” last year and continues to grow as an interactive multi-purpose center serving as an art gallery, music studio, performance arena and café, promoting dialogue in the Alexandria community.
It was agreed that the British Council would host the next and 7th edition of the informal donors meeting with location and dates to be determined later in the year.