Executive Director: Rima Mismar
Type: Multi-purpose Fundraising Foundation
Focus Region: Arab Region
Sectors: Research, Training and Capacity Building, Recreational Activities (Arts)
The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture - AFAC was founded in 2007 through the initiative of Arab cultural activists as an independent foundation to support individual artists, writers, researchers, intellectuals, as well as organizations from the Arab region working in the field of arts and culture. Since its launch, AFAC’s programs have steadily expanded to cover cinema, photography, visual and performing arts, creative and critical writings, music, documentary film, in addition to funding research, trainings and cultural events. Based in Beirut, AFAC works with artists and organizations all over the Arab region and the rest of the world.
AFAC strives to build a flourishing cultural and artistic scene across the Arab region that contributes to establishing open and vibrant societies, where young and seasoned voices engage with each other in the wake of the massive transformations being witnessed by the region.
In such a context, AFAC seeks for works of art and culture to contribute to the following goals:
- Take advantage of the gray areas and collapse of self-evident certitudes in our region to spur fresh thinking and innovative visions of the future
- Search for tools to bear witness to the hopes and hindrances our region is living through, with techniques that go past traditional documentation to create new forms of experimentation in writing and ways of dealing with the image
- Rediscover the complexity and diversity of our societies, and search for marginalized narratives in both the near and distant pasts
- Promote engagement between Arab societies and their diasporas, especially after such a large number of Arab artists have become refugees or been forced into exile across the world, which has reflected on them personally and the art they produce, as well as on the various societies they are now working in
- Expand the space for civic engagement through the offerings of intellectuals, artists, researchers and civil society organizations; a space for dialogue, questioning, critical reflection, and tolerance
HOW WE WORK
AFAC follows three core principles in its work:
- Autonomy: AFAC is keen on diversifying its funding sources allowing us autonomy to work towards realizing our vision.
- Transparency: AFAC adheres to transparency at every stage of work, beginning from the grants application forms which are accessible and open to all, up until the selection process itself, which is the responsibility of a committee of jurors chosen annually for each category.
- Dynamism: AFAC carries out periodic evaluations of its work, taking into consideration deliberations between jurors, social and political changes, and the new creative genres that accompany them, which allows us to be constantly prepared to evolve or modify our programs.
Supporting the production of cultural and artistic work lies at the core of AFAC’s work. Since our inception, numerous changes have taken place in our funding programs in response to the needs, gaps, and emergence of new forms of expression and storytelling. The fund for supporting novelists has transformed into encouraging other genres of creative writing, while the support for documentary filmmaking has expanded, adding a dedicated program for enhancing documentary photography.
The support that AFAC offers is not restricted to cultural and artistic work; it extends to cover research on the arts, to secure appropriate channels of distribution and to guarantee the sustainability of pioneering cultural organizations in the Arab world, whether by way of financial support or through training and mentorship. In accordance with this, AFAC’s work is divided into five strategic areas: providing grants, developing training programs, building and sharing knowledge, broadening the pool of supporters for the arts, and cultivating appreciation for and engagement with contemporary arts and culture productions by connecting them with audiences.
- Grants: AFAC offers close to two hundred grants every year through open calls to submit applications. These grants are spread over nine programs: Performing Arts, Visual Arts, the AFAC Documentary Program, Music, the Research on the Arts Program, Creative and Critical Writings, Training and Regional Events, Cinema, and the Arab Documentary Photography Program.
- Training and Mentorship: In addition to the grants, AFAC sets up programs that offer training and mentorship to develop missing skills and practices, as is the case with the Arts and Culture Entrepreneurship and the Arab Documentary Photography programs.
- Knowledge Building and Sharing: AFAC’s extensive database includes more than 10,000 applicants and 1,350 funded projects, which has made it into a considerable source of information on cultural trends, modes of artistic production, social impact, geographic contexts, and all the relevant statistics. AFAC shares this information through reports, info-graphics, grantees’ stories and studies that it commissions.
- Broadening the Pool of Supporters for the Arts: AFAC is committed to strengthening philanthropy for the arts, and to working with the private sector to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in the field of cultural and artistic production. Our aim is to expand and diversify sources of funding for artists, writers, intellectuals and researchers, as well as organizations that present artistic and cultural content.
- Building Audiences: AFAC seeks to cultivate appreciation for and engagement with arts and culture production to reinforce the transformational power of creative expression.