Dubai Culture’s work to counter repercussions of Covid-19

By Sheena Amos

DUBAI 19 November 2020: Dubai Culture and Arts Authority reviewed the effective methodology it adopted in dealing with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the cultural and creative sector in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, based on the efforts of all the relevant parties who worked in unison to develop the cultural scene and support the creative community in the emirate to overcome these circumstances.

Over the past months, Dubai Culture monitored the results of its efforts and initiatives, in response to the challenges faced by the creative community as a result of the pandemic, based on the Authority’s commitment as an enabler, regulator and supporter of the cultural and creative sector in the emirate.

In this regard, Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture, said: “Evaluating achievements objectively and transparently helps in analyzing results and in setting a comprehensive development plan to achieve further successes in the emirate and provide everything necessary for the local creative community to ensure the sustainability of its work system. This would instill a spirit of hope and optimism among members of the creative community, and based on what has been achieved over the past period, the Authority will continue cooperating with all its partners and concerned authorities to transfer the cultural and creative scene in the emirate to new horizons of prosperity, based on the pillars of its ambitious strategic roadmap to ensure a brighter future not only following the COVID-19 crisis, but for many decades to come.”

Over the past few months, the Authority actively supported and directed the cultural and creative sector in Dubai, most notably with the launch of the ‘Dubai Ideathon’ initiative in April 2020, in cooperation with Art Dubai Group, to attract ideas that would meet the challenges faced by creative societies and overcome them.

Based on the results of this initiative, Dubai Culture cooperated with the Art Jameel platform to launch a small grants program for artists and creators affected by the pandemic. The Authority also signed a partnership with LinkedIn to support creators and artists with more than 100 specialized, online training courses free of charge that aimed to enhance their communication with colleagues and peers as well as to develop their skills. The initiative successfully attracted a large number of creative people in the emirate and from abroad, and the courses they benefited from covered various creative fields, including design, arts, photography and creative writing, as well as music, production, handicrafts and film production.

Further inspiring from the results of Dubai Ideathon, Dubai Culture allocated some grants to a group of small companies working in the creative field to facilitate their participation in Dubai Design Week Marketplace, one of the innovative activities during Dubai Design Week that was launched in Dubai Design District on 9 November under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairperson of Dubai Culture.

Within the efforts to develop mechanisms and solutions to support and empower the local creative community and ensure its continuity and prosperity in the future, especially small companies and independent entrepreneurs, Dubai Culture, in cooperation with Dubai Future Foundation, issued a report entitled ‘The Future of the Cultural and Creative Sector’ that highlighted the most important initiatives launched by governments in the world over the past months to support the culture and arts sector and enhance its ability to adapt to the new reality. The report was launched with recommendations aimed at developing the sector’s infrastructure, exploring ways of cooperation to move towards wider horizons of growth and consolidating innovative solutions to strengthen the sector.

Dubai Culture also supported the open invitation extended by the Global Grad Show to students from different all over the world and from across all fields to propose innovative solutions capable of addressing current and future challenges that emerged after the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to supporting the launch of the first edition of the MENA Grad Show at Dubai Design Week, based on the Authority’s keenness to support the aspirations of graduates in the region through this exhibition, providing them with a platform to display their innovative visions and motivating global audiences to interact with them. The aim was to turn the suggestions into solutions to a number of the most prominent social and environmental problems facing the world today.

In a step aimed at supporting the emirate’s efforts to accelerate the recovery of its cultural sector amid the pandemic, Dubai Culture, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Dubai Collection initiative, which aims to encourage, stimulate and spread the culture of acquiring artworks and promote exhibitions and artists, locals and residents, whose works will be explicitly from the initiative’s collections. This initiative is considered the first of its kind globally as an integrated system for collecting and managing art collections and governing them in their various forms, according to mechanisms that contribute to enriching the creative scene in Dubai, confirming the emirate’s position as a global center for art and culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent.

The past phase also witnessed the launch of many initiatives that contributed to supporting the sector and ensuring the continuity of public communication with the cultural and creative community, including the launch of the #Createtogether campaign, which aimed to encourage creative artists, writers and poets, as they committed to staying in their homes, to provide creative products, each in their respective field of specialization; the virtual tours of museums and heritage sites in cooperation with Dubai 360; the virtual version of the ‘Our Summer of Culture and Arts’; and the virtual summer club taking place at museums. This in addition to virtual cultural tours of heritage sites and museums as well as various virtual workshops and seminars that shed light on Emirati heritage and culture, engaging community members with them as well as an integrated virtual program of interactive courses and workshops in theatre and cinema in cooperation with the Dubai National Theatre over the course of five months, from August to December 2020.

Dubai Gazette