Syrian Entity for arts and culture News:

Laboratory of Arts: A Support Programme for Syrian Artists

About The Programme

The Syrian Artist Support Programme - Laboratory Of Arts is a programme being launched by Ettijahat - Independent Culture, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. It directs its focus at Syrian artists and cultural organisations and seeks to create a supportive and free environment for creative practices, responding to new possibilities as they emerge. It also aims to empower artists and organisations, enabling them to accomplish and develop their creativity through a substantial grants scheme, within the following artistic formats:

Cinema & Animation

Visual Arts

Theatre, and Performance Art

Creative Writing


The programme is aimed at artists and existing initiatives in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey, as well as countries of refuge and exile in Europe; responding to the developments of the Syrian cultural landscape and the current locations of Syrian artists. This will be achieved through the provision of grants, each up to the value of $10000.


The seventh edition of the Laboratory of Arts Program is launched with the generous support of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Lottery Foundation DOEN, and Allianz Kulturstiftung.


Projects which have received grants in the Seventh Edition

Cinema & Animation

Ghiath Al-Mhitawi – Return

A short feature film set in Damascus in the spring of 2013 which tells the story of a Syrian Army soldier who returns to his family’s home on a 24-hour leave. The soldier, Hussam, tries to share his cloudy thoughts about running away from his military service with his mother, as he cannot put them into action without the support of his family. However, his mother, who is pro-regime, stops his attempts and tries to awaken his resolve with words of patriotism and heroism. When the soldier sees his things arranged in the attic next to his dead father’s belongings, he realises that he has been forgotten even by his own family, and feels even more trapped.

Madonna Adib – Four Bras and No Veil

A documentary that addresses the subject of the body and freedom. The director spends her time in the Lebanese city of Tripoli with four young females from the Syrian city of Hama, studying the repercussions of their separation from their families and their removal of their veils. The story plays out in parallel with the director’s own journey of taking off her veil and separating socially and religiously from her native Damascus society in order to live according to her sexual preferences. What are the repercussions for women who go against everything that has been pre-written for them? How do they live with their fear and internal battles and embark on new paths that they have never travelled before?

Souha Hassan – Choice?!

A long documentary set in the city of Damascus, centring around four characters, three of whom are affected by the Syrian reality and have chosen to remain in Syria. The fourth character, which is represented by a dancing shadow, narrates a reality in which many young people are forced to stay in the country. The film discusses, through its characters, the concepts of travelling/staying, choice/compulsion, hope/despair, fighting/fleeing, and life/death. It shows the hopeless shadow between the decision to stay and the desire to leave or disappear as it travels through the streets of a worn-out city inhabited by characters who have overcome, endured and maybe adapted to this hopelessness.


Visual Arts

Huda Takriti – Flight No. 840

A multimedia installation which aims to recreate the hijacking of TWA Flight 840, which took place on the 29th of August 1969. This installation will not involve an actual trip to the physical space of the incident, but will comprise largely of a review of archival documents. By recreating the missing picture, the piece raises questions on the nature of the visual archive and the possibilities it represents.

Nagham Hodaifa – The Mediterranean, the End of Every Hope

A visual art work made up of two parts: the first is an art exhibition, while the second is an interactive work completed in cooperation with physicist Ivan El-Ata. The work sheds light on migrants whose dreams have ended in the Mediterranean, a colossal tourist destination which hides multitudes of painful realities. The International Organisation for Migration has stated that approximately 20,000 people have died or gone missing in that destination since 2014. Most of them have died without a trace.

Nawar Alhusari – The Noise of Isolation

A visual art work that uses relief printing to discuss the terminologies that have entered into our daily lives through traditional and modern media as an accompaniment to the epidemic witnessed by the world, and their ability to impact cultural and social heritage in our individual lives. The aim of this visual work is to create a large lexicon of terms by carving them separately into linoleum plates and then using face masks as a surface for printing in order to produce an exhaustive visual product.


Theatre and Performing Arts

Mraya Theatre Project – Crossing

A collective theatrical production experiment between Syrian, Bulgarian and Iraqi writers to produce a theatrical script and readings that address subjects of “state, patriotism, nationality, identity and borders.” The work deals with the question of identity and the internal struggle experienced by every migrant between their motherland and their country of refuge, in addition to the struggles of identity and belonging, the difficulties of achieving integration, and the concept of home and how it changes with every individual’s choice to let go of the past and start over.

Rafat Zahr Eddin – The Wall

A dance performance loosely adapted from the story of The Wall by Jean-Paul Sartre which discusses the impact of psychological and physical violence on people who are deprived of their freedom as the shadows of war and power struggles loom over them. The performance tells the story of Ibbieta, who is sentenced to death and asked to inform on his friend to save himself. It relies on physical performance as a means of expression and includes choreography workshops in which a number of dancers will try to create ‘new’ patterns of movement.

Hassan Akoul – Umm El Ghaith, Help Us

A theatrical script and readings that address the subject of violence against women within society and the many different ways in which women are deprived of freedom. The story is inspired by true events which took place in the region of Houla, Syria in 2005, in which a girl was imprisoned in a crypt because of her love for dancing. In the crypt, she made a friend, a wise doll called ‘Umm El Ghaith'. This friendship led to the girl being stigmatised as insane.

Nader Abd Alhay – Death is an Easy Act

A theatrical performance inspired by Intruder by Maurice Maeterlinck. The story is about the difficulties of introducing death into the life of a family which has unknowingly lost one of its girls in the river outside while the surviving members live a stable and blissful life inside. The project addresses the concepts of death and safety and their presence in modern life through theatrical performance and other artistic means, such as puppets.

The above two projects received the grant equally.


Creative Writing

Ahmad Katlish – Milonga

A work of fiction which stems from the Argentinian Tango dance, as an equally widespread community structure, through its use of issues relating to nationalism, borders and their impact on characters who have survived political changes, wars and revolutions, as well as their implications on life after survival. The work consists of a series of stories that create the same moments internally and externally on the dance floor from different points of view. Every chapter will follow the point of view of one character through tango-related events. The stories will overlap and intertwine on the dance floor. 

Baraa Altrn – 14 Sad Faces

Literary texts inspired by the experiences of the author in the ‘Mezzeh Jabal-Karajat’ minibus, a popular means of transportation in Damascus, which the author considers to be a sociological laboratory populated by Syrians of different backgrounds. Over a period of five years, the writer took the bus around 2,500 times and watched around 35,000 faces worn out by war. Baraa describes her project as such: “My job in these texts is a mix between that of a chemist who handles elements directly and studies their properties in order to reach an understanding or a result, and an alchemist who wishes to turn everything into gold.”

Qosai Amami – The Age of the Gypsies

A work of fiction that tells the story of a neighbourhood in Damascus inhabited by Syrians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Somalis, citizens of other nations, refugees and migrants, all of whose stories were heard around the neighbourhood in the 1990s, including those of ‘gypsies’. The work addresses the complicated and simple social relationships – at times forged by poverty at other times by ignorance – between refugees, citizens, migrants, intelligence officers, dancers and Arab tourists, revealing the truth of an entire generation which lived lives of waiting and dreaming. Who will win in this neighbourhood in the end? The answer might be no one, and defeat may have already prevailed.



Gardenia Choir – The Thousandth Night

A musical performance which offers a different presentation of folkloric heritage, which constitutes a crucial dimension of the collective culture of the Middle East. The performance consists of the stories of One Thousand and One Nights retold in ways that their female characters would prefer to tell them. The performance provides different explanations for the reasons behind the actions of the female protagonists beyond the prevailing patriarchal explanations. This makes them free from vulnerability and subordination and gives them different endings from the fates typically imposed on these women, thereby examining what might happen if they were given agency in creating their own stories.

Karam El-Achkar – The Opposite Trio

An EP comprising three compositions by Karam El-Achkar on the flute, Omar El-Akbani on the oud and Samer El-Eid on the piano. The work aims to create a complete acoustic phenomenon as the outcome of an experiment that began in Syria in 2010. It currently takes an academic improvised form, using modern technology as a means for cooperation and artistic production, while ignoring the spatial remoteness of the members of the trio and the reasons for their remoteness, in order to build a bridge to a safer future.

Mais Harb – July

An album which showcases a range of singing styles and Syrian dialects in an artistic tour de force that combines old and new generations of music. The album exhibits a lively style that deals with culture with the ultimate aim of being heard by large numbers of people across Syria, the Levant and the Arab world. 


The seventh edition’s jury committee was composed of:

Cinema and Animation: Hanna Ward (Syria), Larissa Sansour (Palestine), Nadine Khan (Egypt)

Visual Arts: Reem Fadda (Palestine), Kevork Mourad (Syria), Nassouh Zaghlouleh (Syria)

Theatre and Performance Arts: Fadi Abi Samra (Lebanon), Nawal Skandarani (Tunisia), Wael Ali (Syria)

Creative Writing: Racha Omran (Syria), Ezzat Elkamhawy (Egypt), Nabil Suleiman (Syria)

Music: Samer Saem Aldhr (Syria), Issam Rafea (Syria), Huda Asfour (Palestine)


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