Jordan/ 8.1 Support to artists and other creative workers  

8.1.1 Overview of strategies, programmes and direct or indirect forms of support

The Ministry of Culture supports artistic productions for the different fields. There is no formal call for application, but project proposals are submitted to MoC and selection is based on the recommendations of an ‘undeclared jury’[1] from people in the field, specifically mention was made to the professors at Universities who are consulted on the proposals submitted for funding. Based on the jury’s feedback, the project is given full or partial funding.  This process of consultation is an attempt to maintain fairness in the selection process and avoid ‘wasta’ (which is a phenomenon often occurring in day-to-day work in Jordan).

The undeclared jury of MoC consultants may present a problem in the assessment of project proposals. If these consultants work in public universities, which is most likely the case, then their interpretation, definition and acceptance of arts is biased, with an inclination toward classical, traditional and folkloric presentations, and also a leaning toward the older generation of artists, or even their allies or friends. This means that artists outside this circle or definition will have slim chances of receiving MoC funding.

It can also be concluded that the inclination of Ministries to work together in Jordan also points towards a closed pool of ideas, goals, and calibre of people working in the public sector. If goals were set to include the private and NGO sectors in planning and decision-making, then a change of service and attitude may be seen. On the other hand, an artists’ professional development fund at the Ministry of Culture has been active since 2006 (more details in 8.1.1).

It was suggested that financial resourcing for arts could be achieved through a new Culture Law in which a 5% tax would be added on to all media sales in TV, press and magazines, which would feed into the budget of the Ministry to support arts and culture. This law went through much debate until “The Lower House... endorsed an amendment to the Culture Law as referred by the Senate, which imposes a 1% tax on media advertising revenues to support the cultural sector”. [2] One of the reasons for lobbying against the law and an eventual reduction of the percentage came from the media, under the pretence that the media is struggling with advertising sales, and that the law would add a greater burden. The law was cancelled in 2013[3].

For film-makers, the Royal Film Commission’s Film House (a government body functioning according to an independent law for government institutions) focuses on capacity building, production, and dissemination of Jordanian film productions through several channels. Workshops for the professional development of film-makers from Jordan and the region are offered on an annual basis. In addition, Jordanian film-makers are exposed to professionals in the field through the RFC’s network with universities, festivals etc. Additionally, the Film House has a growing library of international films and offers equipment and editing services free of charge to film-makers and today is working on a residency program for film-makers from around the world.

Alternately for film-makers, The Amman Film-makers Cooperative has been active a little over 6 years and started to offer free workshops in film-making; and in 2006 started the Amman International Short Film Festival. Other minor activities in capacity building come through workshops offered by other local and international cultural centres.

For the Visual Arts, the main funding for travel, production and dissemination of works comes through regional and sometimes international funding bodies. Some local funding for production is available mainly from the independent space Makan and from Darat At Funun and the Khalid Shoman Foundation. Funding would usually be for the occasion of a festival, workshop, symposium or exhibition. On a very minimal level, these NGOs may formally and informally offer working spaces / studios or facilities to artists for free or a negligible fee.

Recently an award for architecture has been launched for final year and recent architecture graduates. The winners are selected by a jury from Jordan and the region.

For literary publications, the Ministry of Culture offers to cover printing for local publications as well as the chance for the Ministry to purchase the copyright for the publication. This takes place through an application form submitted to MoC, then a selection committee decides if the book is of interest to the Ministry. Also, the Municipality of Greater Amman (GAM) also sponsors book publications, and these can vary between fiction or research based books.

This is in reserve to awards, grants and prizes that are offered from regional organisations (more in 8.1.3)

[1]Undeclared, meaning not elected but selected by the Ministry of Culture directly based on personal relations, or based on good connections with certain artists within the ministry.

[2]Jordan Times - 07/08/2009 “Jordan's Parliament extraordinary session adjourned”

Chapter published: 04-05-2016