Jordan/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.6 Other relevant issues

Cultural Policy within the independent (civil) sector

According to statistics from the Arab Ministries of Culture and what is uploaded on the websites of these ministries and foundations, the number of cultural organisations exceeded 16,000 (including bodies, federations, associations, forums, clubs, societies, rendezvous, unions and so on).

As for the role of the private sector in support for Jordanian culture, 52.2% of the intellectuals in the survey conducted by the Intelligentsia Centre reported that the private sector had not supported Jordanian culture, while 10% of them mentioned that it had.

The most important, visible and effective independent organisations in Jordanian culture include:

Jordanian Writers Association
The Jordanian Writers Association was founded in 1974, as an independent body whose members include Jordanian authors. It is noteworthy that the Association had been closed during the political conflict with the regime, in what is known as the martial law era. It was re-opened with the return of political and parliamentary life in 1989.

The objectives of the Association include: Stimulating the intellectual and literary movement and expanding its groundwork; broadening and deepening the Jordanian readers’ culture; providing the appropriate conditions to develop the creative potentials of Jordanian writers in the areas of intellectual creation and expression in an atmosphere of freedom; introducing, supporting, and encouraging the writers in the occupied territories as well as defending their rights by all means available; benefiting from the humanitarian and national aspects of the Jordanian national heritage and folk literary tradition to place it within global literature; encouraging and organising literary and intellectual studies and offering all possible assistance to the writers who conduct intellectual or literary research and studies, along with the objectives of the Association; organising a literary competition for all Jordanian writers over the age of 18 who are not members of the Association, including short stories, novel, Children's literature, theatre, articles and  thoughts; organising intellectual workshops, seminars, conferences and evenings of poetry and short stories for the members of the Association and; presenting the awards, "Iranian", "Arrar" and "Sapaul," in the fields of stories, poetry and press articles.

Jordanian Writers Union
During the time that the Association was closed for two years, some of its members and others established the Jordanian Writers Union in 1987 as an alternative to the Association, hoping "to benefit from the health insurance system, social security and housing projects provided by the state to its employees," according to the statement made by the Minister of Culture, Mohammed al-Khatib at the time.

In fact, the cultural policies of the Union are not significantly different from those of the Association. The Union is working to revitalise and foster the cultural movement in the Kingdom on the basis of pride in Arab-Islamic thought and the principles on which modern Jordan is based; to standardise and coordinate the efforts of its members in order to create a cultural climate appropriate to highlight and develop the creators’ capacities, to care for their interests and to expand their culture; to foster promising young writers; to organise and hold courses, seminars, conferences, exhibitions and cultural meetings; to manage and sponsor literary and cultural projects; and to conduct cultural studies and research to serve the cultural movement in Jordan.

In its objectives and cultural policies, the Union seeks to promote openness to Arab and foreign culture and participation in cultural, literary and intellectual events undertaken by similar bodies in and outside Jordan; to consolidate the fruitful cooperation between the Union and the Ministry of Culture, along with the  cultural policy of the Ministry and establishing the pillars derived from Arab-Islamic heritage; to cooperate with the cultural foundations in the Kingdom in order to formulate cultural policy and establish its pillars derived from Arab-Islamic heritage; to ensure an adequate standard of living for Jordanian writer members of the Union and to provide them with a health insurance system, appropriate housing projects and a form of social security; to issue a publication that serves the general objectives of the Union; to strengthen the existing cultural bridges with writers in the Palestinian territories; to consolidate links between the Union and cultural institutions and similar unions in Arab countries and the world; and to support, ensure and publish the research and books issued by members of the Union.

The Arts House
The Arts House is the most prominent civil organisation in Jordan that deals with arts in particular and in culture in general. The House was founded in 1993 by the banker Khalid Shoman (deceased) and the painter Suha Shoman, in order to create a centre for art information in the Arab world and a site of intercultural dialogue. To achieve these goals, the House provides free workshops and studios to exercise various artistic works. It also holds specialised courses supervised by international artists and has published a number of publications related to plastic and visual arts. Its library contains Arabic and English publications on the visual arts from Arab countries and around the world. The House includes four exhibition halls, a research and video library, workshop space, studios, residences for artists, and locations for concerts, theatrical performances, and readings. It holds a permanent exhibition throughout the year and hosts Arab artists presenting their creative experiences. The House prepares a monthly program of its activities which include various art forms. Recently, the cultural programs and policies of the House paid attention to youth arts, and hosted several events held by young artists in various fields, including visual arts, music and others. It has an irregular productive program and a yearly scholarship for Arab modern and contemporary art researchers.

Jordanian Artists’ Syndicate
The Jordanian Theatre Association was founded in 1977 by the Social Societies and Commissions Law. In 1983, the number of Theatre Association members reached 181. As a result of the increased percentage of specialists, academics, and different art experts in technical fields, theatre, cinema and televised drama, the Theatre Association was transformed into the Jordanian Artists’ Association after a decision made by the Minister of Culture in 1984 to include all these specialisations. According to the system, the number of members of the Jordanian Artists’ Association with different kinds of memberships spanning different art crafts reached 1,000 members.. The general commission of the Jordanian Theatre Association was considered the founding commission of the Jordanian Artists’ Association, which itself was transformed into a syndicate in 1997 when it was added to the state law, the Artists’ Syndicate Law No. 9 in 1997. It covers the professions of acting, directing, performance, singing, playing instruments, composing, and technical art professions for the dramatic arts. Every two years, the Syndicate’s council which consists of 11 members (the head and two members from every profession) has elections. The Jordanian Artists’ Syndicate Law consists of (52) articles that are thorough and concerned with members’ benefits, professional innovations, promoting cultural, social and artistic conditions and  duties and rights, in addition to nomination, elections, sanctions, conditions of membership and  the practice of different professions, and other matters. The Syndicate works on spreading the message of art and promoting it, developing the values inherited from Arab and Islamic civilisation, stimulating and improving the art movement in the Kingdom, upgrading the level of professional practice, contributing to forums, conferences, exhibitions, festivals, studies and research in the cultural and artistic fields inside and outside the Kingdom. In addition it includes provisions for participating in cultural and artistic events organised by other commissions, taking care of the interests of the Syndicate and its members by offering cultural and social services, medical care for the members and their families and establishing a retirement fund that guarantees pensions to the members. 

(The Jordanian Artists’ Syndicate Website:


Jordanian Plastic Artists’ Association
This is a non-profit foundation, established in 1977 as the first foundation specialising in plastic arts, and the main representative of the plastic movement in Jordan. Membership in this foundation is open for Jordanian, Arab and foreign artists who are residing in the country, according to the primary system of the Association. Its cultural policies include: building and strengthening the fundamentals of the plastic arts movement, attracting Jordanian plastic artists, supporting youth artistic capabilities, organising educational drawing workshops for children and seniors, arranging annual drawing contests, and planning artistic trips to document prominent archaeological sites in Jordan through paintings that represent the Jordanian tourism environment, as part of tourism advertising for Jordan.

During 2012, the Association held 39 activities varying between plastic arts exhibitions, workshops, forums, festivals and events abroad as well as courses that targeted children and teachers from the Ministry of Education and Teaching. Some of the Association members took part in forums, and exhibition evaluations.

Performance Arts Council (The National Council for Arts and Culture – Al Hussein Institution)
The Performance Arts Council was founded in 1987 and received a lot of local and international awards, most importantly: the Excellence Award for serving Arab children from the Prime Council of Childhood in Sharjah in 1997; the Silver Award for the play “Madinat Asawsana” at the third Cairo International Festival of Television and Radio in the same year; and the First-Degree of Al-Hussein Medal for Excellence in the field of theatre in Jordan in 2001. The Council includes a variety of circles and specialist programs such as the Theatre Arts Training Program (it offers visual lessons and hones different theatrical talents of youth and children starting from age 6. It also grants certificates that are recognised by the Ministry of Education and Teaching); the Dancing Arts Circle (which offers professional training to youth and children starting from age 4 and is recognised by the British Royal Academy for Dancing in London. Training lessons are given in various fields, like ballet, modern dance, jazz and folklore arts in the special ballet halls of the Council. The circle has a dancing theatre band.); the Theatre and Art Production Circle; the National Team of Interactive Theatre; the Childhood and Cultural Programs Circle (it organises the annual Arab Children Conference which was first launched in 1980 and grew to become an international event in 2004. In 2000 it also held an international conference in Britain, with 25 countries in attendance and held in cooperation with the International Theatre Council, to teach on the role of theatre in social development. In addition to holding the local conference, “Reinforcing the Concepts of Democracy and Human Rights among Youth”, with 40 theatre specialists participating); and finally, the television production circle.

Abdul Hameed Shoman Cultural Institution
This institution is working to create the appropriate climate for the interaction of the thoughts on intellectual and scientific projects. The Abdul Hameed Shoman Cultural Forum is a free platform that hosts the most prominent Arab intellectuals, scientists and innovators, where its activities attract intellectual talent from Jordan and Arab countries. The Forum was established in 1986 with the aim of creating a platform for intellectuals, researchers, scientists and specialists to meet with the public and discuss issues like the intellectual, political, economic, social and cultural issues that concern citizens and their homeland and to discuss global issues. Abdul Hameed Shoman Institution, by carrying out these activities, aims to achieve two essential objectives: to encourage and facilitate information exchange and knowledge dissemination on the one hand, and to promote democratic dialogue as a means of confronting the challenges facing the Arab world on the other hand.

Artists’ Association
The Artists’ Association was founded in 1997 as an independent body, administratively and financially, in order to spread and present the message of art; to develop the values derived from Arab and Islamic civilisation; to activate and develop the art movement in the Kingdom to be a tributary of the Arabic and international art movement; to raise the level of professional practice and to ensure the freedom of artists to perform and continue its mission; to contribute to seminars, conferences, exhibitions, festivals, studies and research in artistic and cultural fields inside and outside the Kingdom; to be open to foreign cultures and participate in artistic and cultural activities carried out by other bodies inside and outside the Kingdom; to create the cultural climate appropriate to highlight the creators’ talents in various art fields and work to raise their competencies and; to provide cultural and social services and health care for members and their families and care for their children after death, as well as to establish a pension fund for members. 

Jordanian Plastic Artists’ Association
Cultural policies of the Association include: establishing the rules of the plastic art movement; attracting all Jordanian plastic artists; supporting the potential of creative young people, holding educational painting workshops for adults and children, and yearly drawing competitions; and organising art journeys to document the important archaeological sites in Jordan, through paintings representing the Jordanian tourism environment as part of the tourism marketing of Jordan. 

Cultural policy within the private (commercial) sector

Some private sector organisations, such as banks, telecommunication companies, some media organisations and hotels play a role in supporting cultural events and activities in order to promote the cultural role of these for-profit-organisations, as a part of advertising and public relations as well as working to improve the image of a social institution or unpopular for-profit-organisation. Some of the biggest companies that initiate this type of financing are the Jordanian Civil Bank, Cairo Amman Bank, Orange Telecom Company, Zain Telecom Company, the Unique Media Group and Al-Ghad daily.


Chapter published: 04-05-2016