Jordan/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.2 Basic data about selected public institutions in the cultural sector

State funded organisations are considered to serve two functions. On the one hand, a venue for exhibiting / dissemination of arts by providing a venue rent-fee for functions of the private sector. On the other hand, small offices within these institutions are delegated the task of managing public organisations’ activities, in addition to a minor budget allocated by the Ministry where activities such as lectures and perhaps film screenings are presented to the public. These activities don't include a fee for the public; and function under the definition of educating and involving the public in the different fields of the arts.


The state also supports various festivals, including poetry, song, music, books, crafts and folklore. An example of one such state funded activity that highlights a large and diverse festival is what is known as the "Jordan Festival". This festival was initiated in 2009 and was managed and funded by both private and public monies. Both the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture have both been involved in this festival, in partnership with the events company iJordan. This festival replaced the longer-standing annual festival in the city of Jerash, called "The Jerash Festival", which continued for 25 years before it was stopped or replaced by the Jordan Festival under the pretence that the festival should be presented in different cities around the country as well as Amman. The Jordan festival took place all over Jordan, in an attempt to decentralise cultural activities from main cities and spread them to all municipalities around the country. Through this action a wider spectrum of cultural activities were presented, and did not only performances to theatre as was the case in Jerash. Never-the-less, the Jerash festival has been revived since 2013.


Other long-standing festivals in theatre include the Al Fawanees Festival, and more recently, Aat Women’s festival which has a central program that focuses on performance and theatre, as well as Zaktarget='_blank' href in Motion that focuses on contemporary dance.


Other small-sized festivals include those for poetry, music or book festivals, music, or others that take place in rural areas such as the Olive Oil festival which takes place in a small historical town of Rimeimeen, in the Ein Al Bsaha region to the north of Amman. Such festivals are not part of the programming of the Ministry of Culture, but fall under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture. These small festivals are seen to include an artistic element such as musical performances.


The strategy of private NGOs and international representatives (foreign cultural centres) depend on the interests of the director or the fund, and in general they are seen to have an interest in supporting a range of activities from grass-root popular culture, heritage, as well as contemporary artistic happenings. A set strategy or annual vision is only put forward by the larger funding organisations such as EUNIC and the EU.


Separately, the Royal Film Commission (RFC) and the Film House function with a board of commissioners who generate activities within the goals of the RFC, these are defined by the law under which the organisation functions. Apart from the focus on marketing Jordan as a location for film productions, the RFC developed the Film House project. The Film House’s focus is on capacity building and providing facilities for amateur and emerging film-makers. These facilities include equipment, a library, film screenings, and workshops. Eventually the aim for the Film House is to be a separate legal entity from the RFC so as to function as an independent NGO. The RFC has also played a part in disseminating audio-visual culture and knowledge outside of Amman through Film House projects where capacity building is achieved through audio-visual technological training in the form of workshops, and also film screenings.


For the visual arts, the institutions that play a main role in the sector are the NGOs. Darat Al Funun, The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Makan Art Space, The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, The Studio, and Darat Al Tasweer are among other non-registered collectives. These organisations provide workshops, symposiums, screenings and talks / lectures that contribute directly or indirectly to knowledge and skills dissemination. For example, The Darat Al Fununran, which was a summer artist's academy between 1999-2003 that selected young artists from Jordan and other Arab countries (in the Levant area specifically) to participate in furthering their skills. Other workshops that also played a part in capacity building for the visual arts were the video art workshops of the French Cultural Centres which took place annually over several years and, through a call for application, taught aspiring video artists to produce their ideas using the medium. At a government level, and for a period of two years from 2008, the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the University of Jordan’s art professors, presented a monthly artist talk program held in the Royal Cultural Centre.


In theatre, dance and performance, the main centres that have been playing a role lie in the field of education for youth. On a more focused level, the Performing Arts Centre, which is part of the Queen Noor Foundation, is dedicated to the performing arts, and besides education, also produces plays, and contemporary dance performances. The Haya Cultural Centre offers training in the performing arts, but has also offered other arts related activities for young people. The only independent space that offers a place for work and presentation for youth theatre and performance artists is Muhtaraf Rimal. Otherwise, there is a large gap in this field for professional groups or organisations that are dedicated to the support and production of theatre and dance.


As for the presentation of theatre, dance and performance, there are some long-standing platforms such as Al Fawanees theatre festival that is produced and managed by Al Rimal, and Zakharef in Motion, an annual dance encounter of international, regional and local dance performances and workshops that was launched as a non-profit platform in Ammanin in April 2007 by the Zakharef in Motion Establishment. The festival is held in collaboration with many embassies, cultural institutions, government bodies and the private sector.


For Music, the National Music Conservatory is the sole standing institution that provides education (certified for a range of levels) in music education. They also manage and present musical performances, almost solely in the classical domain. Other forms of musical presentations are offered through small-scale activities presented by private entities or companies. The most prominent company for the support and marketing of music is "Orange Red" for music and cultural event management, and Eka3 who operate on a regional level in music management and production. The activities of the private sector are minimal and are mostly seen in collaboration with foreign cultural bodies. The French Cultural Centre has always presented musical performances through their annual festival Fete De La Music (The Feast of Music), which is arguably the most consistent presentation of music in Amman.


The Municipality of Greater Amman Department of Culture was set up in 1997 and its goals are to disseminate arts to the citizens by working with local and international artists on exhibitions and performances of different kinds. These can also be supported financially by the municipality, and through artist meetings, seminars, as well as the publication and the purchase of the rights of books.


Chapter published: 04-05-2016


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