The UAE's creative types will soon be able to earn a master's degree in their subject as Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi confirms plans to begin offering a Master in Performing Arts programme for the forthcoming university year.
Professor Jean-Yves de Cara, the executive director of the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, said culture is crucial to the development and balance of the society.
"Art and cultural management is expanding everywhere and having young professionals coming from this region is certainly rightly regarded in theatre, music, cinema and other cultural activities abroad," he said.
The emirates' efforts to introduce a range of cultural activities such as concerts, exhibitions, book and art fairs has given "rhythm to life in the UAE".
"You find a growing interest in Europe and in other regions for the Arab concept of performing arts whether in music, theatre, cinema or other forms," said de Cara.
Work to launch the master's programme in the UAE, which will accommodate six people in its first year, began almost three years ago, said its head, Gilles Demonet, who is also a member of the Board of Theatre, Paris.
It developed after a number of meetings with decision makers and members of the arts community throughout the UAE.
"The programme is probably the most specific and successful and we have many foreign students enrolled," said Demonet. "In terms of reputation, job guarantee and building relationships with international institutions - it is used as a reference point."
Those who enrol are tasked with learning how to develop artistic projects, manage venues, hire artists, maintain audiences and implement budgets. Internships are also a crucial aspect of the course, giving students the chance to network internationally and form professional relationships. The course is designed to incorporate more of a coaching approach rather than just teaching.
At the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, former students remain very much involved in mentoring students and helping them find work.
"Our approach is economic, legal and strategy based," said Demonet. "When graduates can cover all aspects and are empowered with the right keys, they will be equipped with effective management skills. We are aiming to deliver the global process of the job. Art is a tool for development. It is not just for developing a country and region - I believe there is a bridge between the content of the art and the socio-economic outcome. "
Much is happening in the UAE art scene, he said - something that was taken into serious consideration.
"There is an interesting mix of shows and artists from the region and internationally and maybe it needs to build. Abu Dhabi is aiming to be part of the international game, which involves enhancing regional artists as well as inviting foreign artists. It is important to have an identity that is a mix between local, regional and international figures."
Demonet, who also speaks Arabic, will split his time between Paris and Abu Dhabi.
"I have an interest in Arab culture, architecture and music," he said. "In a place like the UAE, people come from different places so this is a big opportunity."
For more information, visit www.sorbonne.ae.
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