During a one-day forum held in Washington D.C’s Middle East Institute, Director-General of Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA), Manal Ataya, addressed the importance of supporting artists from the Arab region due to the vital role of arts in creating social change and enhancing cross cultural dialogue.

Titled “Cultural Production in the Middle East”, the event was aimed at providing an insight into various topics including, identifying the growth sectors of various art forms and exploring the infrastructure that has been built up in the past decade from fairs, foundations to museums highlighting the critical role of regional institutions that have offered support for artists over the past few years.

The conversation also emphasised the importance of Sharjah Art foundations’ work and policies and programs of institutions such as SMA that come aligned towards not only addressing historical legacy, but also building an arts infrastructure for young Emiratis as well as Arabs based in the UAE and abroad to benefit from.

During the discussion, Ataya spoke of the essential role of museums, cultural institutions and foundations in amplifying the voices of Arab artists by examining the Sharjah model and highlighting the contributions of SMA, Emirates Fine Arts Society and Sharjah Art Foundation in supporting the next generation of talent, through providing opportunities for them to develop innovative artistic practices and create public-accessible spaces where artists’ work are on display.

“Sharjah’s ongoing efforts in funding arts, providing new platforms not only for leading art figures from the region but also for emerging artists, launching different initiatives, and bringing people from diverse fields of arts together arise from the emirate's belief that supporting arts is embedded in education which benefits the community,” Ataya said.

Ataya added that the experience of Sharjah is a real testament to the efforts of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah in funding the arts, establishing 18 museums and other cultural institutions that engage with the community via educational programs and exhibitions.

The panel discussion concluded by tackling challenges facing artists and addressing their needs that would help drive growth and region-wide development in cultural production.

The forum was organised by the Middle East Institute’s Arts and Culture Centre which facilitates cross-cultural understanding by promoting the work of Middle Eastern artists, hosting them in conversation, and connecting them with American counterparts.

Held on October 25, the discussion was moderated by Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi with panelists Laila Hourani, Program officer MENA, Ford Foundation; Khaled Barakeh, artist, and Lila Nazemian, curator.

Source: Elite Media