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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 July 2018

'You were the heart of Dubai': Residents lament loss of Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre

Sadness as Ductac fails to find a new home

Dancers from Moscow City Ballet doing a rehearsal at the Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre, or DUCTAC. Satish Kumar / The National 
Dancers from Moscow City Ballet doing a rehearsal at the Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre, or DUCTAC. Satish Kumar / The National 

UAE residents have expressed shock and sadness at the loss of the 'heart of Dubai' after Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre announced that it is closing its facilities.

It had been expected that Ductac would leave its home in the Mall of the Emirates and move to a new location in Mirdif City Centre; however, a statement on Ductac’s website revealed that new premises had not been found, resulting in the announcement that the group was closing down all its facilities.

Ductac said that the organisation had been looking for a new location since the start of the year but had no choice other than to close because of a lack of a suitable venue.

“We have been working diligently to locate alternative premises that would offer our customers and patrons an enhanced Ductac experience that reflects the evolution of the creative and arts community,” read the post on the website.

“Unfortunately we were unable to find a suitable location. As a result we have taken the difficult decision to close our current facilities.”

The statement also added that the centre would continue to support arts and culture in the UAE through other avenues.

“We hope to provide our community with upgraded experiences at our assets in the future,” said the post.

The statement about Ductac's closure on its website. Courtesy Ductac
The statement about Ductac's closure on its website. Courtesy Ductac

Ductac, which opened in 2006, was created by local theatre-lovers and the business community who felt there was a need for an entertainment and education centre for future generations in Dubai.

At its peak, the centre hosted 89 classes a week as well as local and international shows, artists and performances. Ductac had an emphasis on cross-community, not-for-profit events.

While Ductac put on a number of acclaimed theatre shows, including High School Music Musical, Matilda and The Jungle Book, it also offered a range of courses for people interested in pottery, interior design, public speaking and arts and crafts, to name but a few.

Dubai residents took to social media with an outpouring of emotion following news of the closure.

Uzma Ahmed said the closure was extremely sad as both her boys had attended Ductac for the past five years, while Nandini Jaidka said it was a “huge loss for all of us”.

“It is tragic. We need more art and culture, not more retail experiences,” said Ms Jaidka.

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Fran Garcia Fernandez works in the Mall of the Emirates and would often call in to the centre. “I liked to pop in from time to time there, it was an oasis of peace and creativity,” she said.

“It is such a terrible loss.”

“You were the heart of Dubai. Thank you for all the wonderful memories. My kids and I are devastated,” wrote Elena Ivantsova on Dutac’s Facebook page.

Lynn Nelson wrote that “somebody needs to do something and set up another community centre”.

Former student and tutor at Ductac, Roberta Jack, said the closure was "a shame". “There is nothing in Dubai that offers what Ductac did,” she said.

“It’s a very sad outcome.”

The Dubai government needs to provide a stronger platform to sustain and encourage arts, according to Mehwish Ali. “There needs to be a platform for both Emirati and expat talent without segregation,” he said.

Tony Khan took to Twitter to express his dismay at the news of the closure. “The tragedy of Ductac closing is a sad reflection of how art will not survive here unless it is commercialised,” he tweeted.

Tania ZL was succinct with her comment on the news that Ductac was not moving to Mirdif City Centre, as had been hoped.

“Thank you for the magic,” she wrote on Facebook.