Art and Citizenship in Lebanon: A Priority in Times of Crisis
Dar al-Kalima University (Bethlehem – Palestine) organized an art workshop on art and citizenship at the Bossa Nova Hotel on December 16, 2021, in cooperation with the Dar al-Kalima Association for the Arts and culture and its program NABAD (nabad.art) in Lebanon. This workshop was held jointly with a second in Amman in cooperation with the Royal Institute for Religious Studies, and a third in Gaza. These workshops accompanied the 23rd Dar al-Kalima International Conference on Art and Citizenship in Bethlehem on December 15-16. This conference is part of the celebration of “Bethlehem, capital of Arab culture”, as well as in the continuity of the recommendations of the international conference of the University of Dar al-Kalima “Active citizenship: towards pluralist societies in the Middle East and North Africa ”.
Participants in the Beirut workshop focused on local and regional artistic and cultural approaches and practices, assessed current needs such as the democratization of art, art therapy, local production, solidarity, regional cooperation, identified political, economic, and security challenges and obstacles, and suggested ways forward to bring about social and political change through art.
Artists, academics, and activists, presented various methodologies and strategies in social and political art that prove that art is not a luxury but a pillar and an essential tool to build inclusive societies for the purposes of sustainable development, “to ensure access to justice for all, and to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels” (Sustainable Development Goal 16, United Nations).
The workshop first included the introduction of Dr Pamela Chrabieh, President of the Dar al-Kalima Association for Arts and Culture in Lebanon, and Ms. Roula Salibi, Vice-President of the association; followed by presentations by Ms. Ingrid Khoury (graphic designer, Dar al-Kalima University), Dr. Roula-Maria Dib (University professor, poet and founder of the Indelible Magazine for arts and culture in Dubai), Mr. Cyril Badaoui (researcher in law, consultant, activist, and founder and president of the organization A+ Initiatives and of the Achrafieh group), Ms. Gaia Maria Njeim and Mr. Wael Jupiter Bou Zerdan (members of the cultural group Minal Shaab), Dr. Lena Kelekian (artist- painter, icon restorer, and president of the Meadows NGO), the architect Hagop Sulahian (co-founder of the Meadows NGO), Ms. Nada Raphael (artist, photographer, filmmaker and co-founder of the Tourleb social project ), Ms. Joelle Sfeir (writer and co-founder of Tourleb), Ms. Manar Ali Hassan (multidisciplinary artist, graphic designer and founder of the group Let’s talk arts – Lebanon), Ms. Joyce Samaha (ceramist and founder of Earthing Ceramics Studio), Mr. Elie Kesrouani (designer of the game Wasta, writer and founder of the Onboard Cultural Cafe) and Ms. Nadine Mneimneh (fashion designer).
Nabad aims to help artists and creative institutions by supporting local and regional activities and initiatives, and by creating collaborative networks. Nabad has been able to support more than 120 artists and associations in Lebanon since November 2020.