Jordan/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

In a 2008 MoC set a plan for cultural development for the coming 3 years, and the details of this plan summarised as follows: The vision was focused on creating better awareness of what defines Jordanian culture and ‘cultured peoples’; to find better ways to market Jordanian cultural products through dissemination and funding; provide equal opportunities for different Jordanian cultures, pointing towards minorities in the country, and finding ways to connect on a local level with representatives of the cultural scene in both the public and private sectors; and the need to foster international partnerships through the network of Jordanian Embassies, for the dissemination and marketing of Jordanian cultural products. 

The Ministry of Culture acknowledges a lack of cultural policy and sets to develop one. The basis of this development is tied with the basis on which these goals are intended to be achieved, which begins by emphasising religion and heritage, the vision of the Monarch and the Prime Minister, the national agenda, government bodies and being an extension to the national security of the country. For the Ministry of Culture, this vision points to a very strong adherence to the national definitions of culture and can be understood as a passive role in setting its own agenda; as there is no mention of any challenges or loopholes with the existent systems or definitions of culture on a national level. There is no mention of making such developments on the basis of qualitative or quantitative research, or through meetings with members of the cultural sector.

On the one hand, several programs focusing on the presentation of different arts have been developed in Jordan, some are funded by the government, and others have been initiated through local cultural centrer, sometimes collaborating with regional and international partners. The most prominent of these festivals include the following:

Music, Dance and Theatre
Jerash Festival recently announced a change in management and rebranded as Jordan Festival. Fawanees Theater Festival, Zakharef In Motion Festival, Hakaya Festival, Al Balad Summer Music Festival, and Fete Du La Musique (Feast of Music), a French festival that takes place annually worldwide. These are the main platforms that have operated actively over the last 10-year period up until 2013.


Film festivals include the European Film Festival, Jordan Festival for Short Films and Video, and Karama Human Rights Film Festival. Others include film festivals that present a program of screenings from specific countries, or a group of them presented at galleries, theatres, and the Film House (Royal Film Commission).

Visual and Contemporary Arts
Meeting Points Festival for Contemporary Arts, a program from the Young Arab Theatre Fund together with Makan in Jordan, has been presented since 2004, with its 6th edition in 2011 (even though the Festival was initially launched in Amman, after 2011 the city was no longer on the Festival list). . The touring festival started with the aim of circulating productions by Arab artists to other Arab cities, addressing the lack of touring productions. Since 2007, the festival began to include other European cities, and now presents an international touring exhibition with different partners from around the world. The only other platform that presented visual arts works from different audiences was Shatana International Artist Workshop, which took place for 3 consecutive years 2007-2009, inviting 20 artists for two weeks to produce site-specific work in a village in the north of Jordan. The workshop ended with an open-day for the public to see and celebrate the works produced.

Small scale festivals have taken place and may not have continued such as the Jazz festival which took place outside the city of Amman, in the district of Madaba, as well as the Electronic Music Festival in which musicians from Jordan, Palestine and Egypt presented experimental works, but this was discontinued in 2009 due to funding problems.


MoC’s policy towards the dissemination of culture is very much geared towards spending on infrastructure elements. This is seen through the building of cultural centres in the different cities around the country. This is part of the 2007 policy set by MoC for the dissemination of culture outside of Amman. This policy is however debatable as the main critique for the culture sector should be one geared towards capacity building first, which would mean creating a pool of professionals and artists in the cultural field who are capable of running such centres. Additionally, with such a small budget allocated for culture, large expenditure towards buildings in itself is a questionable policy.

Chapter published: 04-05-2016