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AFAC Announces 28 New Grants in Music

30 Nov, 2018 

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture- AFAC is pleased to announce 28 new grants in the music category as part of its 2018 Music General Grants Program and amounting to $360,000.


The 28 projects were selected by a jurors’ committee that brought together Lebanese singer Rima Khcheich, Tunisian musician, composer, lutenist and singer Hamdi Makhlouf and Jordanian novelist, essayist and cultural editor Maan Abu Taleb.


The jurors met at the AFAC offices over two days and had an in-depth discussion about the projects they had individually read and evaluated over more than a month.  The 28 selected projects (21 individuals and 7 institutions) were chosen from 148 applications received this year during AFAC open call for applications.


Commenting on the process and selection, the jury stated the following:

Means of cultural production in general, and music production more particularly, are scarce in the Arab world today, outside the framework governed by political forces, or market forces that are not restrained by non-profit considerations. This represents a missed opportunity for a large number of artists and musicians to execute their projects. From this perspective, the jury committee values the role of AFAC, in creating an essential and valuable space for musics that fall outside these frameworks.

This space however is complex, with its own mechanisms, and its opportunities and risks. Today, as the world has opened up and mixed via the internet, travel and the diaspora, musics have spontaneously intertwined and merged, and new musics have emerged in a constant live operation that occurs every day at a micro scale, that no one can deny or prove exclusively. For this reason, the so-called originality, or heresy, a blind tradition, or revival of tradition are merely ambiguous criteria, often arising from concerns that are not related to music.

The jury committee has therefore avoided these criteria, and has opted not to ask upon evaluating every application, what it is bringing to “Arabic music”, or how Arabic is it, what societal objectives does it fulfill, thereby focusing its evaluation on the quality of the proposed artistic project, its appropriateness, its seriousness, its proposition of a convincing budget, in an attempt to extrapolate the kind of concerns that move the project, whether artistic or otherwise.

Over the course of weeks during which the jury committee members have reviewed dozens of applications, and during the 2-day jury meeting during which these applications were discussed, the marked presence of some trends was clear, such as the fusion music as a genre in itself. Numerous applications also aimed to enhance Arabic music, to bring it closer to modern music, or render it more appealing to the new generation. The jury committee was forced to discuss the controversy of these concepts and their oversimplification. Several applications also revolved around specific instruments, whether because of their rarity, or by placing them in unconventional contexts. Furthermore, the jury committee received numerous applications that used experimentation as a point of entry. The jury committee members attempted to induce whether this experimentation was a stand or actual. In other words, has this experimentation frozen to become a clear pattern with its own equations? Or is it a real experiment that seeks new forms and meanings?

Despite the artistic diversity of the applications, and the clear rise in applications received from the Maghreb region, there was a marked absence of the most popular music genres of the Arab world today.  This may be justified by the fact that these music genres rely on their own production means, and enjoy vibrant scenes that allow them to be disseminated in a cost effective manner. For example, popular music across the Arab world, Egypt-based festival music, and rap music in the Arab world as a whole, which seems to achieve high popularity, and a market that tends to compare with commercial music from the Maghreb.

The Jury committee would have wished to receive more applications from these genres or from new names who did not enter these reams yet, and would therefore have benefited from a grant that would enhance their technical capacities and support their launch. These are the music genres that Arabs listen to today, with spontaneity and pleasure, without overloading them with intellectual projects or ideological ideals. This music is immersed with pleasure, which is a good thing in itself, which talented musicians use to upscale to the production of beauty.

Further to discussions, deliberations and scrutiny, the jury committee members selected projects that stood out with their innovation, seriousness and transparency, which they present to you in all confidence with what transpired from them, and with excitement and enthusiasm for what will result from them.


The next Music call for submissions opens in June 1st, 2019.


To view the 2018 Music Grantees click here

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