The International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) held its 2018 Congress in Leeuwarden-Friesland, Holland between 11-15 June. AFAC was invited to speak on the panel titled “The New Human Landscape” which examined how migration and nationalism have changed the composition of the global landscape and what role can arts and culture leaders play in addressing the situation of refugee artists.
The congress brought together a wide spectrum of organizations and individuals from around the worlds working in the fields of cultural expression in general, and performing arts in particular.
During the panel, AFAC’s senior program manager Heba Hage Felder spoke about the role of independent funding in the absence of adequate public support for arts and culture in the Arab region. She also highlighted the importance of supporting displaced and migrant artists in order to “combat amnesia”.
“The diversity of AFAC grantees remind the world that refugee artists from the Arab region are not restricted to Syrians, but also to those form Occupied Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and many other places where there is little oxygen for artists to breathe,” she said.
The panel discussed the different responses to displacement and migration of artists and how their needs can be met. Hage Felder presented the model used by AFAC to support Arab artists who have been uprooted and found themselves in unchartered territories in Europe, with very little knowledge and experience with the international art market.
“AFAC launched the Arab European Creative Platform (AECP) in 2016 to respond to the dire reality of forced migration and its impact on both the Arab region as well as Europe, promoting tolerance and diversity. AFAC’s timely activities addressed the priorities of Arab artists in exile and opened up collaborations with European counterparts to facilitate the inclusion of those artists and their contribution in their host communities,” she said.
Other speakers in the panel included Matthea de Jong (Leeuwarden-Friesland European Capital of Culture 2018, The Netherlands), Julie Halten (Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, Germany), Abid Hussain (Arts Council England, UK) and Jalal Mando (Actor, Germany/Syria). The panel was moderated by Eugene Downes (Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ireland).