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22 Dec, 2017 

AFAC is very proud to share the fruits of a reflection process it carried out in 2016 looking back on the past ten years of AFAC as an arts and culture institution, in order to imagine an inspiring future.


The ten-year study entitled, “Learning from the Past, Imagining the Future” is a critical document replete with forward-looking aspirations from the community of artists, supporters, board members, and wider audience.


The ambition of AFAC on its tenth anniversary was to revisit, review and reflect on operations since its establishment in order to assess the institution’s work, its outcomes and impact in relation to its vision and to get pointers on what has worked well and what needs to be improved. More importantly, this participatory reflective process probed new areas that AFAC needs to look into based on what practitioners and supporters see as being priorities and trends in the arts and culture sector for the Arab region.


The research process was carried out by an independent consultant, Moukhtar Kocache, starting mid-2016 through mid-2017 and included one-on-one interviews with invited participants from diverse backgrounds: artists, grantees, board members, individual and institutional donors, cultural managers and practitioners in arts and culture. In addition, a survey of 56 questions was sent out to over 300 individuals identified from AFAC’s database (grant recipients and applicants) as well as the list of funders, partners, jurors, cultural practitioners and board members .


The idea of the survey was to get a sense of personal perspectives and input in addition to recognizing broad patterns of significant correlations. Questions were divided under three main categories – mission and identity; organizational operations; and programs. Respondents were asked to scale their responses and were given the option to contribute statements that further explain their assessments and recommendations. The diversity of respondents geographically and professionally contributed to the richness of input. They hailed from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, USA, Jordan, France, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Somalia, Germany, Switzerland, Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.


A two-day meeting was then held at AFAC’s offices in Beirut to review the initial findings of the interviews and survey and involved AFAC’s staff and four invited cultural practitioners from the Arab region, namely, Tarek Abou El Fatouh, Khyam Allami, Orwa Nyrabia and Rasha Salti. The group reflected and analyzed AFAC’s grants management systems, internal administrative processes, governance, communication, methodologies, and program areas.


Since making its first grant in 2007, AFAC has raised over $23 million, made over 980 grants totaling approximately $13.6 million by 2016, spent almost $3 million on professional training and workshops, reached millions of audiences, processed over 9000 applications, and worked with over 200 jurors. More than 50% of individual grantees are between 25 and 35 of age, and 30% are between 35 and 45. An overwhelming majority sees AFAC as the most important stamp of approval and legitimacy, and view its support as critical to their freedom of expression, and their ability to tackle sensitive issues.


The ten-year study looks at all the strengths but also the weaknesses of AFAC to date, and lays the ground for its strategy in the coming five years; to make its core stronger, to ensure that its programs are responsive, and to ensure that the ecosystem around arts and culture grows and that philanthropy continues to nourish the sector.


We are grateful for the generous contributions of those who took part in the study. Their insights, engagement and reflections are yet another proof of why arts and culture matter so much, providing the space for dialogue, discussions, and criticism, and to be able to remain relevant to the priorities and growth of the sector.


For the detailed report, please click here.


The Arabic version will be available in early 2018. 


As a follow-up to the study, AFAC carried out focus group meetings in 2017 for the categories it supports. The objective was to delve deeper into the general recommendations offered by the study, and to give particular attention to each of the categories. The one-day discussion per category with 3-4 experts were extremely helpful in offering practical recommendations and more tailored food-for-thought on priorities for AFAC. The complementary focus group report will be shared with the wider community early 2018.


We would be more than happy to hear your feedback on the ten-year study and eventually the focus group recommendations. Please continue to share any burning ideas you have to keep AFAC a beacon of possibilities in arts and culture and to keep us grounded in our work and for the Arab region.

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