Syrian Entity for arts and culture News:

Business Models and the Sustainability of Performing Arts Groups

Ettijahat- Independent Culture, in partnership with DROSOS FOUNDATION, recently launched the Business Models and Sustainability of Performing Arts Groups component, within the MAHARAT: Building Careers in Performing Arts Programme. This component targets small and medium enterprises working within the Performing Arts Sector in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt, and aims to provide them with skills in financial planning within the for-profit and non-profit frameworks, identify challenges in funding and sustaining resources, think of business models which can respond in the long term to the impact of the general lockdown, economic crisis, and empower financial and digital alternatives.

Selected Enterprises

Fridge Theatre – Palestine

Established in 2019 in collaboration with the Royal Marionnette Theatre of Belgium, Fridge Theatre is a mobile theatre company specialising on Puppet theatre and targeting local youth. They are located in Bayt Awa in Al Khalil, which is a marginalized community lacking cultural centres and artistic programmes. Their activities are centred around public theatrical performances in common spaces such as parks, in addition to schools and educational centres, and organizing puppet, animation, and drama workshops for youth. 

Hayy Group - Palestine

Established in 2013, the group is comprised of artists specialising in dance, music, theatre, and fine arts. Their work supports experimentation within these fields and offers training opportunities for youth and adults in physical theatre, music and sound design, and the preservation of folkloric heritage through artistic projects. 

Fragments Theatre - Palestine

A cultural centre was established in 2014 by a group of volunteers and targeting the participation of children and youth in theatre performances and drama workshops to develop their relationship with arts and culture and provide them with a safe space to exchange their thoughts and experiences and learn to express themselves through theatre, cinema, and visual arts. 

Tawleef - Palestine

Tawleef is an independent record label and artist space established as a response to the need for alternative spaces for local artists to work and collaborate, but also to have access to relevant resources, an open recording studio, music production equipment, and workshops. They began their work in 2019 with the aim of filling gaps in the local music scene in Palestine, for young artists and women in particular and supporting them in creating alternative models to music-making with a focus on community engagement.

Wasle for Arts and Cultural Development - Egypt

Focused on advocating for freedom of expression through performing arts and on supporting the growth of the creative sector, Wasle provides production and project development opportunities through workshops, supporting writing and translation of content, offering rehearsal spaces and an electronic platform for promotion, training, showcase events, and networking schemes.

Panorama - Egypt

Established in 2014 as a street theatre group, Panorama organizes theatre performances and training aimed at preserving folkloric heritage and engaging marginalized communities in artistic practices which can support social cohesion.

Laban Group - Lebanon

Laban is a theatre collective that uses theatre and theatre-based approaches to build capacities and safe spaces, enable collaboration and teamwork, raise awareness on critical social and political topics, and engender social change. They also manage and provide studio space for rehearsals, performances, and workshops. The Studio hosts the annual Rooftops Connect Festival, as a platform for local artists to meet and connect. 

Beirut Physical Lab - Lebanon

Beirut Physical Lab is an independent organization that aims to develop the physical theatre and contemporary dance scene in Beirut and its surroundings. This objective is achieved through various frameworks, namely by creating a safe space for artists to express themselves, organizing and hosting workshops, building a supportive community which communicates more deeply through the sharing of knowledge and production opportunities, and promoting access to art, specifically physical theatre and contemporary dance to audiences in all areas of the city. 

Daniel Khateeb Workshop - Syria

This artist-run workshop looks to promote the growth of a new generation of artists through capacity-building and knowledge exchange. They have organized various workshops aimed at developing the skills of emerging actors who have no access to formal education, and aspire to expand their network and target diverse age groups, in order to support the survival of theatrical activities in Tartous. 

Studio 8 - Jordan

A not-for-profit company is active in the fields of dance and performing arts. Since 2014, Studio 8 has collaborated with more than 500 people of 40 nationalities in creating 8 original dance productions, giving more than 50 performances, and organizing more than 130 classes and workshops. Studio 8 has also made dance videos, facilitated art incubations, artistic residencies, dance-inspired exhibitions, dance discussions, community art walks and street art fairs.

Selection Committee

Therese Ghobriel has acquired more than 15 years of experience working with non-profit cultural organizations, specifically in financial management, capacity building and organizational development & sustainability. Since 2010, she has worked as a consultant for cultural organizations such as the Culture Resource, with the aim of training them to develop and restructure their financial systems, and has held various positions in cultural and artistic organizations throughout the Arab world and in Canada.

Ahmed El Attar is an independent theatre director and playwright whose work has been performed all over Europe and the Arab region. His play ‘The Last Supper’ was in the official selection of the 69th Avignon International Theatre Festival (2015) and the Festival D’Automne in Paris (2015), making it the first Egyptian play ever to be programmed at both festivals. He is also the artistic director of D-CAF Festival, and the founder and manager of Orient ProductionsTemple Independent Theatre Company and Studio Emad Eddin

Anas Darkaoui has more than 10 years of experience in the non-profit sector working with NGOs on social development programmes focusing on youth participation, skills building, and strengthening civil society, in Syria, the MENA region, and the UK. With two Master’s degrees from the UK in Youth and International Development from Brunel University, and in International Management from Exeter University, he is currently the Interim CEO / Civil Society Programme Manager at the Asfari Foundation.

Selection Committee Statement

The members of the selection committee met on the 18th and 19th of May 2022 to assess eligible applications received from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, and Jordan. The main points of discussion revolved around the applicants’ past experience and how their participation can be both beneficial to their own development and present a learning opportunity for their peers, their target communities and how they plan on developing or sustaining their activities, the profiles of their team members, the role they play within their local communities and their willingness to explore new approaches to develop their business models as a way to respond to the complex challenges they are facing. In addition to the application form, applicants shared narrative and financial reports, visual material of their previous work, their communication strategy, and a budget proposal for the year 2022.

The committee was keen on prioritizing initiatives that work outside capitals and in less centralized regions, and more specifically those focused on developing and investing in the performing arts sector. The committee was also interested in having a final selection of participants with varying levels of experience in order for them to benefit and learn from each other’s experiences.

Committee members with the selected participants all the best in their journey, and they hope that the training programme will help them achieve their professional goals and increase the impact of their work in their respective communities.

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