Beyond the Now: Socially Engaged Art in a (Dis)Connected World

Create Syria: A Space to Explore Arts and Social Change | Fourth Edition

Beyond the Now: Socially Engaged Art in a (Dis)Connected World is a partnership between Ettijahat - Independent Culture with Plymouth College of Art, Mozilla Festival and Counterpoints Arts (with other Beyond the Now partners*). It is an international research, development and cultural exchange focused on the role(s) of socially engaged art in an age of displacement. This partnership represents the fourth edition of the programme Create Syria: A space to Explore Arts and Social Change, and includes a programme of mentorships, residencies, public dialogues, commissions, and other peer-to-peer learning for Syrian and Arab artists working across all art forms in the Levant, Egypt, Europe and the UK. 

This edition of Create Syria seeks to increase the capacity of artists to contribute to the development of stronger, more cohesive communities through the design and delivery of arts initiatives focusing on social engagement and artistic quality.

The programme will provide space and support for ten artists via in-person, digital, and hybrid online/offline events. Participation in this programme will include the following:

  • Tailored online training and artistic guidance from local and international experts for all participants;
  • Financial support of up to €4,000 for five artistic proposals, participants are encouraged to collaborate in pairs to experiment and pilot their proposed initiatives;
  • Artist residencies at Plymouth College of Art in the UK for two participants;
  • Digital skill training and networking opportunities with the Mozilla Festival for all participants;
  • Participation in public dialogue events in Beirut, Brussels and London, in partnership with local and international platforms for all participants.


Background & Rationale

Beyond the Now: Socially Engaged Art in a (Dis)Connected World builds upon the work of Create Syria, a programme designed by Ettijahat – Independent Culture and the British Council in 2016, specifically the toolkit Arts and Uncertainty developed by the researcher, Rana Yazaji. This toolkit will form the basis and key catalyst for this edition’s learning curriculum. Enabling artists to explore the methodologies and challenges of doing socially engaged work, such as the realities shaping global divisions and connections; the possibilities and limitations of emerging technologies; the growth of social and economic disparities in the wake of the global pandemic; the impact of wars and increasing totalitarianism; and the disparities surrounding freedom of movement and assumed rights of mobility affecting individual artists and communities of place. 

Main Objectives for 2022-2023

  • To empower ten individual artists to research and develop pilot commissions; to participate in a dynamic learning exchange; to access digital skills and knowhow; to take part in a place-based residency – with the aim of creating works that can have a positive impact within communities, contributing to greater inclusivity and cohesiveness in a period of increasing global uncertainty;
  • To inspire and facilitate networking and collaboration between community-based organisations working in the arts in the Levant, Egypt, Europe, and the UK - through offering inclusive international peer-learning and ideas exchange in relation to the topic of social change;
  • To improve accessibility and community participation in arts initiatives, specifically socially engaged projects of high artistic quality;
  • To showcase the diversity of contemporary creativity across borders to audiences, through exposure to narratives produced between the Levant, Egypt, Europe and the UK. 


Beyond the Now: Socially Engaged Art in a (Dis)Connected World will create relationships between artists and communities, help artists network with peers of different nationalities, ages and backgrounds, and link the communities of displaced Syrians with those still in Syria. This will allow for more creative opportunities to respond to the challenges of reshaped geographies and redefined notions of exile.

Component 1 – Learning Exchange

This third aspect of the learning exchange component will help artists to build relationships with peers from intersectional movements and to consider the role of the digital in connecting with global perspectives.

Component 2 – Idea Development

This component aims to provide greater visibility and awareness about the positive roles that arts-based interventions can play in supporting community development.

Component 3 – International Cooperation

This component focuses on encouraging networking and the sharing of models, approaches, and best practices between artists and community groups that conduct artistic activities and apply arts-focused methodologies in pursuit of wider change.

Component 4 – Public Conversations

The core aim of these activities is to create spaces for dialogue and to cultivate new cooperation possibilities between artists, practitioners, and communities.

Criteria and Selection Process

A committee of arts and culture experts working in the programme's target communities will read and evaluate the eligible applications, in order to choose 10 participants who will take part in this edition. The committee will favour applications that are most likely to benefit significantly from the programme.

The main criteria for selection are:

Relevance to the programme’s objectives

  • The applicant’s understanding of the reality of their local community and their awareness and sensitivity towards community work and artistic practices
  • The level of experimentation and innovation showed in the applicant’s approach to arts and social change
  • The opportunities for local community involvement within the idea presented

The applicant’s or team’s readiness for collaboration

  • The opportunities to draw on local and international cooperation and the applicant’s willingness to learn from one’s environment and through exchange with other participants
  • The applicant’s willingness and desire to work creatively towards social change in an innovative way
  • The extent to which the idea developer will benefit from Create Syria

Key dates

  • Online Q&A session: 5 July 2022
  • Deadline for the submission of applications: 30th of July 2022 (23:59 Beirut time)
  • Announcement of results: Second half of August 2022
  • Learning exchange sessions and training-Part 1: First half of September 2022
  • Project ideas development: October 2022 till March 2023
  • Public talks and events: October 2022 – Exact dates will be defined later
  • Learning exchange sessions and training-Part 2: First half of December 2022


To apply, please read the general guidelines and to download the application, please click and download the files below.

After completion, the application form along with the documents listed in it have to be sent to

For further information or queries, please email us at the same address.


See links to Create Syria and Arts and Uncertainty

*The Beyond the Now partners are based in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Lebanon/Belgium and Amsterdam. Comprising small to medium arts organisations and educational institutions: Ettijahat Independent Culture (Beirut and Brussels), co-culture (Berlin), CREATE (Ireland), and Counterpoints Arts, (UK) in addition to individual researchers working at the Open University and Plymouth College of Art (UK) and the Mozilla Festival (London/Amsterdam).

Websites of project partners:

Ettijahat – Independent Culture
Counterpoints Arts
Plymouth College of Art
Mozilla Festival

* Beyond the Now is a syndicated online platform, founded by partners working in locations across Europe and the Mena region. It aims to open new creative, cultural and political affinities for a post-pandemic world; and to amplify the necessity for and experience of solidarity in a time of crisis. Beyond the Now was established during Covid-19 (May 2020) with the goal of creating greater solidarity and collaboration between organisations and individuals working within the interdisciplinary field of social art practice.

الحقوق محفوظة اتجاهات- ثقافة مستقلة 2022
تم دعم تأسيس اتجاهات. ثقافة مستقلة بمنحة من برنامج عبارة - مؤسسة المورد الثقافي