Syrian Entity for arts and culture News:

Life Initiative: Contributions to Support Syrian Cultural Entities

A special edition to contribute to supporting those affected by the February 2023 earthquake in the context of Ahliyeh initiative

Ettijahat - independent culture launched the special edition of the Life Initiative: Contributions to Support Syrian Cultural Entities, to support civic and cultural entities that are active within the framework of working with those affected by the February 2023 earthquake.
This special edition provides a flexible framework of support for active entities in the civil fields, including culture and arts, which play a vital role in supporting the affected people on a humanitarian, social, and psychological level throughout Syria and southern Turkey, and contribute to mitigating the size of the disaster whose effects extend to the coming months.

This special edition of Ahliyeh initiative stems from the conviction of the importance of complementary responses at all levels. The life initiative looks forward to supporting seven entities, institutions, collectives, and teams that provide several services including relief and health components, dealing with trauma, and offering knowledge and arts. In this context, Life encourages joint submissions between entities from different fields and expertise.

Supported Entities 

Citizens. Artists Institution

“Citizens. Artists” is an independent, civil, non-profit institution established in 2012 and active in the field of development in general and cultural development more specifically. Its name reflects its aim of seeking to link between art and society. Citizens. Artists also seek to use arts as tools in social development processes and raising awareness at the level of individuals. It also aims to empower children and the youth by giving them a space for free expression and fair opportunities to develop their skills and capacities, by designing and implementing projects that use the tools and mechanisms of interactive theatre. The institution also offers opportunities targeting young artists to implement innovative artistic projects in their fields and make them known in the local and Arab cultural and artistic scenes.

Metamorphosis Foundation

Metamorphosis is a non-profit organization operating in the education and culture sector. It was established in 2017 with the goal of promoting the philosophy and the arts as a response to harmful extremist ideologies. The organisation remains impartial, with no affiliations to any political party or faction. Its primary objective is to provide a convincing and meaningful understanding of how life can be lived, emphasising its true worth, effectiveness, and fulfilment, all the while moving away from ready-made ideological solutions. Initially, the initiative began as an electronic magazine. As the project expanded, the foundation started offering training programs in creative writing, various art forms, and other courses that the public education curriculum does not provide, as well as helping young people to enter the job market. Moreover, the Foundation is actively involved in providing counselling and psychological support during challenging times, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, it launched Book Extension, an organisation that produces critical writings on literature and arts, facilitates book therapy, contributes to the establishment of libraries, and hosts book-centred discussion sessions. 

Mraya Theatre Project

Mraya Theatre Project is an independent Syrian theatrical group that was founded in 2017. The group focuses on adopting and launching theatrical projects aimed at documenting the audio-visual memory of Syria. This involves extensive research and transcription of oral folklore and war testimonies from the perspective of young people. The group conducts workshops with the objective of documenting these narrated memories, preserving them in written form, and utilising them in various forms of artistic performances. These include storytelling, theatrical readings, and the creation of theatrical texts that contribute to enriching the Syrian theatrical library. Additionally, Mraya organises specialised workshops in scenography, improvisation, dramaturgy, and other related disciplines. In addition to its work in utilising stories, narratives, and theatre for psychosocial support among children and adolescents, the group also conducts therapeutic interactive theatre workshops for women and adolescents who have been subjected to gender-based violence. Mraya is also dedicated to developing artistic tools and interventions that create a space for communication and expression during times of crises.

Nefes Foundation for Arts and Culture

Nefes was founded in 2016 by a group of young Syrians and Turks who specialised in music and arts and received an official license to practice in Turkey in 2017. Nefes believes that artistic and cultural productions are important to the stability and well-being of any society, especially societies that have faced psychological trauma and isolation, as well as loss of identity. Nefes believes that education and artistic and cultural production plays an essential role in the recovery and prosperity of societies. It seeks to present itself as a cultural phenomenon that respects our diverse cultural heritage and possesses its strength and confidence. It draws its inspiration from the cultural and academic knowledge and backgrounds of its team to restore authentic cultural heritage and preserve it, away from the trap of museum heritage and touristic folklore. In parallel, Nefes aims to preserve cultural work and provide new artistic experiences that contribute to its enrichment.

Noon for Arts and Culture

Noon for Arts and Culture is a cultural and artistic institution that was founded in Gaziantep, Turkey, in 2022. It was established by a collective of musicians, playwrights, visual artists, and media professionals as a cultural hub, endeavouring to cultivate an educated generation while nurturing cultural and artistic elements through fostering an environment that promotes cultural and artistic expression for all. Indeed, it strives to create a vibrant and inclusive social and cultural atmosphere that embraces all segments of society, attracting individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds of both Syrian and Turkish origin, through a diverse range of activities and events organised both within and outside the organisation. Noon for Arts and Culture also serves as a platform for professional artists to showcase their work and artistic productions. The project is dedicated to promoting the arts in a scientific, artistic, and cultural manner, fostering interconnections between different art forms and strengthening the role of artists from both a local and global scale, while collaborating with other cultural institutions to present art from a fresh perspective.

School of Dramatic Arts

The "School of Dramatic Arts" is a community art gathering founded in Damascus in 2009 by a number of Syrian thespians, to create a new theatrical space that is open to various experiences, and a laboratory for self-development and theatrical productions for adults and children. The school moved from one location to another and suspended its work for two years due to the war. It eventually established a permanent headquarters in Jaramana, near Damascus. During its short history, the school was able to welcome and teach six batches of actors. Four months ago, the fifth batch graduated after presenting a socio-political play entitled “Disintegration.” The school also presented several professional theatrical performances on its own stage and elsewhere. Since 2016, the school has also opened a special class under the title of "Talents" to teach performing arts to children and young adults.

The Youth Change Network

The Youth Change Network is a non-governmental, developmental, non-profit, independent organisation that operates both within Syria and among the Syrian diaspora around the world. Established in 2015, its primary aim is to support democracy-building. The organisation follows a strategic approach of establishing community committees that represent different geographical regions based on specific competencies. Its focus lies in empowering society by enhancing the skills and capabilities of its citizens and residents, fostering networking and cooperation across all spheres, and launching campaigns and initiatives aimed at achieving self-sufficiency, and making use of available resources. The way the structure of the organisation is designed is akin to a snowflake, with efforts directed towards realising its vision of creating “a viable and impactful civilised society that is capable of driving change and contributing to decision-making processes.”

Jury Committee:

Khawla Dounia: Activist, poet and journalist
Ossama Halal: Theater maker and founder of Koon theater group.
Roula Baghdadi: lawyer and director of Dawlaty organisation 

Life Jury Statement

“The selection jury undertook the challenging task of choosing nine out of eighteen eligible entities that met all the admission requirements, of which seven became recipients of the allocated grants.

The selected organisations vary in terms of their location (whether based in or outside Syria), their scope of work, and the services they provide. The services range from technical support, relief work, and social services, including psychological support mechanisms aimed at alleviating the impact of the earthquake on their beneficiaries.

The selection process began with each member deliberating independently and coming to an individual decision. The jury then convened to re-evaluate each organisation and discuss each of their decisions, working together in a complementary manner. These discussions focused on the candidates’ scope of work, their ability to execute projects according to the laid-out plan, and the benefits they would offer. Geographical distribution, work diversity, and the potential for sustainable and widespread impact were also considered prior to reaching the final decision.

All applications and proposal details were carefully reviewed throughout the evaluation process. Some organisations had struggled to present their projects effectively, prompting the jury to recommend they undertake training sessions in project writing and in how to successfully apply for grants.

Budget allocation mechanisms and associated activities were also taken into consideration. Priority was given to organisations that presented realistic and implementable budgets, capable of covering a broader range of beneficiaries with significant benefits. Considering the grant's focus on post-earthquake recovery, the presence of psychologists offering onsite psychological support throughout each stage of implementation became a crucial factor in the selection process. The jury assessed how well organisations addressed this requirement, emphasizing their attention to providing psychological support and their effective implementation thereof, as per beneficiary needs.

Furthermore, entities that are present and actively involved in the earthquake-affected areas were given higher priority. Despite having endured the aftermath of the earthquake, they nonetheless endeavoured to continue their crucial work along with staff and local communities. 

The jury acknowledges the dedication and efforts of Syrian civil and cultural organisations across all regions in providing psychological, social, and cultural support to mitigate the earthquake's impact and ensuing challenges. While only a limited number of organisations could be selected, it does not diminish the significance of the remaining entities and their commitment to supporting all of the affected areas in various ways.

The selection jury is grateful to all those who put in the time and effort to submit their applications and extends its best wishes for success to the selected candidates in implementing their projects throughout the second half of 2023.”

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