Cultural Leaders Meet in Damascus

Published November 16th, 2009 - 03:31 GMT

more than 80 people from across the Arab world, the UK and Europe will come together in Damascus for a 2-day British Council-run conference on 'Cultural Leadership and the Arab World' to share knowledge and experience on the key issues facing the cultural sector in the Arab world. The conference will involve panel discussions, plenary sessions, and cultural activities, and will act as a platform for an international networking opportunity for senior influencers and next generation cultural leaders and operators.

This conference coincides with the pilot year of the new global British Council programme, 'Cultural Leadership International' which works with future cultural leaders in Europe and the Middle East through professional development and international networking - with the aim of strengthening the role of the arts and culture in society. The conference is a direct response to some of the major themes highlighted in an extensive consultation phase, which was undertaken for this project in the region last year.

Elizabeth White, Director British Council Syria, commented: 'I'm very glad that the British Council is welcoming this conference to Damascus. This promises to be an extraordinarily interesting and important event, during which this distinguished group of participants from across the Arab World and from Europe will be sharing a wealth of knowledge and experience and ideas around the development of cultural leadership. We believe strongly in the potential of culture in shaping the future of our societies - and indeed the relations between different societies; and we recognise the significant role of leaders in the cultural sector. Our hope is that this conference - and its consequences - will inform and inspire both the networks of cultural leaders of today, in and around the Arab World - and also those who wait in the wings.'

The conference will consist of four panel discussions with speakers from the UK, Europe, the USA, and the Arab world. Themes revolve around:

Access to culture looking at the role of arts in society; how culture impacts on quality of life, what social support exists for culture and its effectiveness. Guest speakers for this panel include Hassan Abbas from Syria, Mohamed Amine Moumine from Morocco, Jereyes Samawi from Jordan, Ramzi Abou Redwan from Palestine and Brendan Keany from the UK.

Arab modernity in a post-global era: current thinking and art practices looking at what Arabic cultural specificity means in the region's current arts sector which is largely shaped and influenced by Euro-American models at every level. Guest speakers for this panel include Moataz Nasr from Egypt, Rasheed Araeen from the UK, and Rasha Salti from Lebanon.

Arts in the present day: economic and social realities looking at the context in which cultural operators work; examining for example the dominance of political and institutional agendas, complex socio-political tensions, and the impact of these conditions on artists and practitioners.

Guest speakers include Naif Al Mutawa from Kuwait, Andreu Claret from Egypt, Orwa Nyrabiah from Syria, Peter Jenkinson from the UK, and Ousama Ghanam from Syria.

Leadership and sustainability looking at existing models of leadership in the cultural sector in the region; from an individual and organisational perspective. Guest speakers include Leila Barakat from Lebanon, Russell Willis Taylor from the US, Philip Goodwin from the UK, Mokhtar Kocache from Egypt, and Faten Farhat from Palestine.

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