The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture-AFAC and Drosos Foundation are pleased to announce a partnership on a new program, Arts and Culture Entrepreneurship (ACE), that aims to explore new models to sustain arts and culture institutions in the Arab region. Co-funded by Drosos Foundation and AFAC, ACE is a three-year program starting in the fall of 2018 and designed to inspire, invigorate and strengthen small and medium cultural institutions working in the Arab region - that have strong connections to their respective communities - in the areas of strategy, leadership, entrepreneurship, fundraising and communication. It aims to create an environment where these institutions can reflect on alternative ways to sustain themselves, with the support of experts/mentors, inspiring case studies and related readings and exercises. Each cycle comprises three workshops, tailored mentorship, and culminates in an incentive grant that allows the participating institutions to implement an innovative activity inspired by their learning during the span of the program.
Rima Mismar, Executive Director of AFAC explains that, “These are indeed exceptional circumstances for arts and culture production in the region. With a changing funding landscape and the shifting of resources, cultural institutions are facing a huge challenge in sustaining their activities and existence. We believe that exceptional circumstances require special interventions. Thus, ACE is a response to this challenge, which clearly came up in the evaluation of AFAC’s past ten years in operation. To be able to carry on with their work, arts and culture institutions in the Arab region need to identify innovative ways to remain relevant, resilient and independent. Moreover, these institutions operate in increasingly challenging political and legal environments. ACE provides an opportunity for those institutions to re-examine their mission in light of a rapidly-changing globalized world, to re-assess their relevance to their stakeholders, and to get inspired by peer institutions in other sectors and geographic regions facing similar challenges and opportunities.”
Each program cycle includes workshops and mentorship provided over a period of 12 months in addition to an incentive grant following the completion of all three workshops. Crafted by a group of specialists and experts, ACE is conceived as an experiment in “learning and doing”. The program is made of 12 modules delivered in 3 workshops and covers topics related to strategy, communication technology, entrepreneurship and fundraising; good practices from leaders in microfinance, technology and social media; case studies from peer institutions with a focus on Africa, the Indian sub-continent and South America; as well as reflections on global themes of inequality, technology and ethics.
In the words of Carole Gürtler of Drosos Foundation, “The novelty of ACE is that it is experimental and far-reaching. It focuses on inspirational case studies, and intends to share best practices and experiences during workshops but also on-line, benefiting many cultural institutions not directly participating in the program. Institutions will acquire new skills and capacities to sustain themselves and increase the impact of their work in their communities. This program provides the space, stimulus and means for them to re-invent themselves. We are very excited to be part of this initiative and to offer practitioners the opportunity to further develop artistic innovation and professionalism.”
The program will be delivered to 8 participating small and medium cultural institutions from the Arab region in each cycle. The process of selecting participants is not based on an open call but on a process of nomination and invitation to apply. AFAC will solicit nominations of cultural institutions from across the Arab region for participation in the ACE program. Nominators will be chosen from a pool of practitioners in arts and culture – both individual and institutions – with a wide knowledge of active cultural institutions in one or more countries in the Arab region. The nomination process will be followed by an invitation to apply. Only invited institutions can submit an application to be considered for the program. An independent jurors committee will choose the institutions that will participate in the program.
Two participants (director and deputy or equivalent senior staff) from each institution will be required to attend three specialized workshops in Beirut to help them reflect, get inspired and develop innovation ideas to implement within their institutions. They will also benefit from mentorship provided by experts/mentors. Following the three workshops, the participating institutions will be granted $25’000 to fund a specific innovation activity inspired by the program, to strengthen the organization’s sustainability. Most of the material generated during the course of the program will be made available online for non-participants to benefit from, in addition to public talks and panels as a way to engage with the wider public.
The full program description will be posted soon on the AFAC website.