International Relief Fund

International Relief Fund © Goethe-Institut Libanon

Around the world, cultural life has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The International Relief Fund, an initiative of the Goethe-Institut, the Federal Foreign Office and other partner institutions, supports organisations from culture and education in many countries and thus makes an important contribution to structural preservation and artistic freedom, critical discourse and social diversity.

PROJECTS FROM LEBANON

2020

For the International Relief Fund 2020, two cultural institutions from Lebanon have been selected to implement their projects between July and December 2020.

From over 140 funded organisations in culture and education worldwide, Metropolis Cinema Association and Zoukak Theatre Company were selected to receive grants to carry out projects to strengthen their institutional resilience and outreach.


Metropolis on Wheels is a mobile cinema project that consists of indoor and outdoor film screenings followed by discussions in various cities and villages across Lebanon. At the heart of this project are the partnerships with various cultural institutions and venues in the country that will be collaborating with Metropolis to open up its programs to new audiences. In a time of socio-political and economical instabilities, Metropolis wishes to decentralize its screenings to create a more flexible program, one that can move, transform and adapt according to the new challenges. The screenings will be followed by discussion sessions that will focus on the cinema as a space for a shared collective experience of dialog and exchange.

An article by Jim Quilty about the project

Metropolis Cinema Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting independent cinema in Lebanon and the MENA region through diverse programming, industry training, young audience outreach, and preservation of film heritage in order to allow for greater accessibility to alternative films locally and regionally.

Recovery of Zoukak Studio is a project that was launched as a direct response to the explosion that took place in the heart of Beirut on August 4, 2020 - noting that Zoukak's studio is located a mere 1 kilometre from where it exploded. The company believes that in times of severe social crisis, culture is as important as humanitarian aid and heritage restoration, as it enables the creation of a variety of narratives that help residents stay, dream, feel, work and live. The team has come up with an initiative that positions the studio at the crossroads of different paths of action, and which is driven by three main guidelines; the first is to create a safe space for groups from civil society to gather and plan their next actions; the second is a hub for psychological support for those affected and through tools of theatre therapy, while the third is a space for artistic creation for a number of associated artists, aspiring theatre makers and young trainee.

Zoukak Theatre Company was founded in 2006 as a non-hierarchical structure dedicated to theatre practice as a social and political engagement, with a belief in theatre as a space for collective reflection and in collectively as a position against marginalizing systems. The theatre company positions itself outside the dominant discourses through direct actions within marginalized communities.

2021

For the International Relief Fund 2021, five cultural institutions from Lebanon have been selected to implement their projects between September 2021 and February 2022.

From over 200 funded organisations in culture and education worldwide, Arab Center for Architecture, Action for Hope, Hammana Artist House, Ishbilia for Arts Association and Zoukak Theatre Company were selected to receive grants to carry out projects to strengthen their institutional resilience and outreach.


Connected with Each Other, History/Memory and Architecture/Place consists of updating the Arab Center for Architecture's (ACA) online database on the architecture of the Arab world, particularly of the 20th century. The database was launched in 2014 on the occasion of the Venice Architecture Biennale and was part of the pavilion curated by the ACA in collaboration with the architect Bernard Khoury; since then it has been updated in slow steps. The current database includes 500 buildings and around 200 architects with information and images from Lebanon and the Arab world. The aim of the project is to make about 1500 buildings and 350 architects freely accessible to the large community of architects, researchers, students and, most importantly, to the general public in Lebanon and abroad.

The Arab Center for Architecture (ACA) is a non-governmental organisation founded in 2008 as a platform where professionals and other sectors of society discuss the present and future of architecture and cities in Lebanon and the Arab World. ACA raises civil society awareness of modern architecture and urbanism, emphasising the cultural value of architecture and design and the recognition of the social impact they have on urban regeneration, community building, and education and professional development. The ACA believes that for society to develop a contemporary sense of itself, it is not enough to dwell on past glories. It therefore advocates the recognition of the value of recent heritage and its preservation.

Art Streams is a project to produce and broadcast music and film productions by young artists from marginalised communities who are graduates of the Action for Hope (AFH) film school in Lebanon and music schools in Lebanon and Jordan. The aim of the project is to enrich the cultural scene in Lebanon and Jordan and to give 40 young artists the opportunity to creatively engage with the reality of their lives. In these productions, the young filmmakers in Lebanon will narrate their stories, while the young musicians in Lebanon and Jordan will arrange, compose and perform musical pieces that have traditional roots and appeal to a wide audience in the Arab region. Art Streams responds to the dire cultural, social and economic situation created by the pandemic by facilitating the production of new artistic works by young artists and providing an alternative platform and channel for the presentation of these works.

Action for Hope (AFH) was founded in 2015 to provide cultural development and outreach programmes that meet the cultural and social needs of marginalised and displaced communities. The association works on several cultural projects spread across three main programme axes – “New Artists, New Voices”; “Networking, Dialogue and Research”; “Community-Based Cultural Interventions”. Furthermore, it believes in the role of arts and culture in empowering individuals and communities, especially those in distress – providing people with access to culture and tools for their creative expression to enrich their lives and increase the cultural capital of the communities around them.

Restoring Connexion is a combination of ongoing programmes to restore, sustain and revitalise relationships between cultural organisations, artists, audiences and communities. It is the concrete implementation of long-term vision that addresses the need to maintain a cultural momentum in these difficult times, while still fertilising the ground for a sustainable cultural scene across the country. The programme aims to: Restore links and exchanges between professionals to enable them to share questions and doubts; restore a sense of belonging and find ways to face challenges together; provide opportunities for artists to develop new research or continue ongoing projects; connect with communities through gatherings and performances; engage in different decentralised contexts through artistic workshops; support artists in their sustainability through effective work opportunities; cultivate networks and development initiatives between structures for greater collaboration and solidarity.

Inaugurated in 2017, the Hammana Artist House (HAH) is a 1700 square metre space dedicated to artistic creation and production. Located in the heart of Hammana, a village 45 minutes from Beirut, it has several rehearsal and accommodation spaces, a scenography workshop and an open-air theatre. Throughout the year, local and international artists can receive the time, space and support they need to develop their artistic practice. By creating numerous partnerships and forms of collaboration across the country, as well as regionally and internationally, HAH stimulates a diverse cultural dynamic, fosters creative processes that incorporate the realities of the country, and supports an all-inclusive artistic approach. HAH is also a home that gathers artists and audiences around a multidisciplinary programme in a welcoming and warm environment.

Cultural Innovation Roadmap aims to work with artists, arts organisations and cultural practitioners to get back on their feet after the Covid 19 pandemic and its impact on the sector. Through a three-module training for representatives and volunteers from key organisations, as well as freelancers and young creative practitioners, three topics will be presented and discussed with them: teaching approaches and tools to help artists cope with unexpected events or situations; teaching tools for designing creative social experiments; introducing participants to proposal writing; and building grassroots relationships with local, regional and international funding bodies.

Ishbilia for Arts Association was founded in September 2018 by a group of youth from South Lebanon. The main mission of the association is to decentralise the cultural scene from the capital to the south and also to provide access to quality cultural activities for people outside Beirut. After more than 10 years of closure, the group has revived the Ishbilia Theatre in the heart of the city of Sidon to create an independent, safe and multidisciplinary cultural space whose main goals are to promote independent artists, create a meeting point between artists and the local community, ensure artistic freedom and a pluralistic society, and encourage younger audiences in the south to play a role in the cultural circuit of their country.

Beyond resilience, two directions to respond to this new reality imposed on us by the Covid 19 pandemic: On the one hand, adapting Zoukak's activities to social distance and providing a safe space for artists, and on the other, exploring new media and spaces that combine art and technology. With the pandemic-induced changes in the way people access art and the rapid intertwining of art and technology, Zoukak wants to venture into new forms of creation that combine live performance and technology by equipping its studio with high-end live streaming and audio-visual equipment. In parallel, Zoukak wants to adapt the studio to create a space compatible with social distancing measures, adding offices and rehearsal rooms with the right soundproofing and ventilation measures. This would strengthen Zoukak's infrastructure and allow it to explore new forms while continuing to create and perform theatre that challenges the status quo. Beyond Resilience is a way to reach a wider audience across physical, social and cultural boundaries.

Zoukak Theatre Company was founded in 2006 as a non-hierarchical structure dedicated to theatre practice as a social and political engagement, with a belief in theatre as a space for collective reflection and in collectively as a position against marginalizing systems. The theatre company positions itself outside the dominant discourses through direct actions within marginalized communities.

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