A.M. Qattan Foundation and Consulate General of Sweden Visit Partners of the “Visual Arts: A Flourishing Field” Project
The team of the “Visual Arts: A Flourishing Field” (VAFF) project and a delegation from the Consulate General of Sweden, represented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), visited three of the VAFF project partner institutions that have received grants as part of the project’s first round (2017–2019). The institutions included: Sakiya Art | Science | Agriculture, the Visual Arts Forum and Tamer Institute for Community Education.
This introductory visit by the Consulate General of Sweden to the VAFF project’s partner institutions, through which the delegation received an update on the progress of the projects, eight months after the Grant Implementation Agreements (GIAs) were signed, was the first of its kind. The visit brought together Maria Ardaji, Programme Officer, and Majd Ashhab, Communication and Promotion Officer, from the Consulate General of Sweden; Yara Odeh, VAFF Project Manager, and Eman Sharabati, VAFF Project Coordinator, from the A.M. Qattan Foundation; and Wisam Suhil, a journalist, who also participated in the visit.
The visit began in the village of Ein Qiniya, where Sakiya Art | Science | Agriculture is based. The visiting delegation met with Sakiya’s founders: architect and curator Sahar Qawasmi, artist and filmmaker Nida Sinnokrot, and Sakiya’s project coordinator Anan Quzmar. The delegation was briefed on the establishment of Sakiya as a new cultural space that integrates the visual arts, agriculture, the production of knowledge and archiving.
Following this, Sakiya’s team organised a visit to the project’s site, a unique nature reserve with great scientific, architectural, and aesthetic qualities laid out on an area of land on a hill in Ein Qiniya on the outskirts of Ramallah. The site has two historical houses, one built during the late Ottoman time and the other during the British Mandate era, and stunning wildlife. The founders of Sakiya made a presentation on the project’s agricultural programme, which involves restoring stone walls, clearing the land, sowing seeds and rehabilitating the road together with the village residents. The presentation also covered Sakiya’s art programme, which provides two residency spaces for four Palestinian artists/researchers. Currently Sakiya is hosting two residencies that were launched in April. Work is underway to announce open calls for the rest of the residencies over the coming months.
The delegation’s visit to the project’s site of Sakiya Art | Science | Agriculture in the Village of Ein Qiniya
The second visit was to the Visual Arts Forum in Ramallah, where a meeting was held with Programme Manager, Mahmoud El Fiqy and Fundraising Officer, Tamadur Shallana. As part of the VAFF grant, the Visual Arts Forum is implementing the Visual Arts Education Programme. In addition to reactivating the Forum in the Ramallah area, this initiative seeks to develop the Forum’s institutional structure, its capacities and its sustainability. The visitors were briefed on a session that the Forum is currently organising with Norwegian expert Nina Kulsrud to develop their visual arts curriculum. The Forum shared an update about the various areas of their work, particularly the development of a resource mobilisation plan to contribute to the Forum’s sustainability.
The delegation’s visit to the Visual Arts Forum in Ramallah
The tour concluded with a visit to the Tamer Institute for Community Education, which is currently implementing its ‘Tales from Palestinian Art’ project. This activity seeks to develop young adult literature and the visual arts field for children in Palestine. Renad Qubbaj, Director General of the Tamer Institute, made a presentation on the Institute and its goals since it was founded in 1989. Haneen Khairi, Programme Manager, and Alaa Karman, Project Coordinator, presented an update about the progress of the project to produce and promote stories for children that highlight the lives of four prominent Palestinian artists. An advisory committee has approved scripts for the stories and in collaboration with Palestinian and other Arab artists and writers work is now in progress to prepare relevant paintings. Discussion revolved around the training opportunities the project offers to around 40 artists. In collaboration with artist Amal Karzai, the Tamer Institute is now also offering an advanced training course on storyboarding as well as 2D and 3D drawing.
During the visit to the Tamer Institute, participants discussed other components of the project that aim to develop the capacities of the Institute in relation to publication, distribution and promotion. The discussion also addressed other areas of cooperation between Sweden and the Tamer Institute in relation to converting some published stories into interactive applications and games.
Visits will also be organised to the other four partner institutions in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
VAFF is a project of the AMQF’s Culture and Arts Programme funded by the Consulate General of Sweden represented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). A $4 million subgranting project being implemented over a period of 6 years (2017–22), it aims to enhance the capacities and sustainability of visual arts organisations to develop their artistic and educational programmes, facilitate learning and research opportunities, and enable art organisations to extend support to artists and art professionals for the production of innovative works and community-based art projects and the garnering of broad audiences.
The delegation’s meeting with the team of the Tamer Institute in Ramallah
The project is funded by the Consulate General of Sweden represented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).