x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

The women's majlis: Open up public spaces to art events

How would you like the arts and culture scene to develop in the UAE?

The art and culture scene has been quite active in the UAE, and has been growing and developing for many years. We celebrate film, literature, theatre, art, design fashion and music, and yet we don't have proper art institutions to nurture and develop young artists.

Instead of just importing and selling art, the UAE needs to create a platform to help nurture creative minds, to create a generation of artists that are born here.

While we wait for the big museums in Abu Dhabi to be built, to attract tourists from abroad and art enthusiasts in the country, what is being done to create artists that were born and live in the UAE, who can one day have their own masterpieces shown at these museums alongside international artists?

I'd also like to see a steady flow of events spread across the year, instead of cramming lots of big events into a few months. March is the busiest month in the arts calendar here; I've referred to it on my blog as a "month of art and culture on steroids". After the crowds leave, there's a gap that doesn't get filled until many months later.

Areas with a cluster of galleries should dedicate one day a month to being open until late at night, and instead of just having your average gallery opening event, invite local food vendors to add an atmosphere, creating a much more rewarding social evening, instead of just attracting the crowds that want to see and be seen.

It's commendable that Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz and the Gate Village in DIFC in Dubai host art nights a few times a year, but there have been instances where they're scheduled on the same night. Why make the art crowd choose which one to go to? It's difficult to attend both venues in a span of a few hours if you seriously want to check out the art.

To develop a scene, we should have access to it every day, and not just rely on the big, sponsored, annual events. Many a time I have friends visiting, and if they're not in town during the big events, they end up missing out on experiencing the art and cultural scene in the city.

Lastly, I'd love to see art and culture expressed outside the confines of four walls. Not enough is done to promote it in public spaces (and no, I don't mean the shopping malls).

We have at least seven to eight months of good weather and some great parks that aren't used to their full potential. The Dubai Creek Park, for one, has a beautiful amphitheatre by the waterside. How wonderful it would be to watch plays, film screenings and musical performances there, or in any of the other big parks across the country.

Hosting events in such public spaces will bring together a wider group of people to interact and communicate with the culturally diverse population of the UAE.

Hind Mezaina is a photographer and blogger from Dubai. Her blog, theculturist.com, contains all things culture-worthy in Dubai and beyond. You can also follow her on Twitter @hindmezaina

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