x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Art grant recipients must give back to UAE community

Artists who receive financial support from the Emirates Foundation are being encouraged to come back and serve their community through their art.

DUBAI // Emirati artists who receive grants from the Emirates Foundation will be encouraged to give back to society as the organisation adapts to changing economic and social conditions.

"We're going through a kind of restructuring as we look at the changes," said Salwa Mikdadi, the head of the foundation's arts and culture programme.

"We need to focus more on the youth, those under 35, and the grants that we give will be designed so that the grantees come back and serve their community in some way.

"So they are gaining knowledge, but at the same time we are moving more and more to having art for social change.

"Art can serve a purpose and we want to ensure that this is more common among our grantees. And we are looking more at an interdisciplinary approach to the arts."

Ms Mikdadi said the fields the foundation supported - visual and performing arts, film and literature - could be combined to work towards achieving change.

"They can create awareness of the environment or about social issues such as the inclusion of challenged youth, the disabled and all the other people who need assistance in the community," she said.

The foundation is an independent, philanthropic organisation set up by the Abu Dhabi Government.

Its arts and culture programme gives financial support and technical advice to Emirati artists, provides educational opportunities and arranges for the performance and distribution of their work.

Ms Mikdadi outlined the new approach at a meeting at the Pavilion Downtown Dubai arts centre, where young Emirati artists who had received funding spoke of their experiences.

The panel included Karima Al Shomely and Khalid Mezaina, who received grants to work with British artists on a project for London's Shubbak festival of Arabic culture held in July.

The team produced a number of dining products such as plates and place settings for the Shopopolis project, which was staged at the Westfield London shopping centre.

Mr Mezaina, from Dubai, said: "I learned a lot in terms of critical thinking because we did a lot of prototypes to make the final products, so I learned about trial and error.

"I'm really grateful to the foundation because I wouldn't have been part of this experience otherwise. This is what Emiratis need, to go outside and take in culture abroad and just be inspired. I'd encourage others to seize the opportunity."

Faiza Mubarak, from Abu Dhabi, received a grant for a two-month residency at the French Institute Studio at Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris.

"It was really amazing to be with artists from different countries," Ms Mubarak said.