Lebanon/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.3 Cultural policy objectives

Lebanon's main concern is to correlate culture with the very human existence, because every activity reflecting the need for self-stability will be interpreted into spiritual inspirations among the members of a Lebanese sector between them and the members of other sects. All these activities fall, to some extent, within the cultural field.

In Lebanon, culture is preferred to be with no subject when it fails to convey the emotions of the sect's members whatever their premonitions and worries about their future or delights are. It's also believed that culture, like freedom, inspires its referential authority from individuality and not from public authorities which cannot provide enough support so that culture develops according to its own dynamism. It should be pointed that there is in Lebanon seventeen recognized religious sects.

To comprehend the Cultural Policy in Lebanon, perhaps we need to have an approach about Cultural Policy attached to the education course. These policies are targeting the Lebanese citizens, especially the students in schools and universities.

In addition to the fact that the Lebanese educational policy focuses on providing students with the necessary qualifications and improving their scientific skills, education in Lebanon is a cultural policy aimed to prepare citizens to constitute part of a human world that can ensure stability and self-independence. Education, in this regard, is one of the Cultural Policy elements.

A man is a human being in himself and not a tool for a certain purpose and the Lebanese people are the ultimate goal of the education and cultural policy.

It is known that cultural policies target certain categories of the Lebanese community, more specifically the elite, while other categories receive knowledge and certificates without considering the cultural policy which is limited to certain people. The cultural policy targets artists (theatre, cinema and plastic arts) but didn’t support theatre, arts and cultural activities in rural areas.

There is an extreme lack of theatres in Lebanon. Some have been recently closed, and the Lebanese countryside is almost entirely devoid of theatres, which deprives large segments of the public from enjoyment as well as benefit, and turns this art form into a purely elitist one that is inconsistent with human rights to participate in cultural life.

Despite this, there have been some positive signs, like the opening of rural Zibdin Theatre or what is known as Sami Hawat theatre, and the opening of Istanbuli Theater in Sour, al-Hamra, opened by the young man Qasim Istanbuli, in a special effort to transform an old cinema into a theatre hall and a modern cinema. It should also be mentioned that some theaters had been established in villages, but they soon ceased to function because of the centralization of the theatres in the capital, the absence of a link between what is happening in the capital and villages, and the absence of the role of municipalities in cultural life apart from singing festivals and folklore. For example, in Chanet in 2006, the Social Renaissance charitable Association equipped a theatre for cultural activities -  the Khayyam cultural and social club - which built a cultural complex comprising a public library and multi-posts theater.

This lack of theaters is reflected in the number of professional  and amateur theatre actors

Many theatres have closed their doors in recent years. Despite this, Beirut has witnessed the opening of some small theaters like Aljumyzah Theater and the city metro experience. The latter must be highlighted as it succeeded in attracting a new, different and various audiences, despite the fact that the founder of that experience, Hisham Jaber, took a business-direction.

The issue of the Beirut Theatre closure – the biggest and oldest theatre in Beirut – was added to the ministry’s agendas following pressure from a group of activists and human rights workers in the cultural field who succeeded in including Beirut Theatre on the annual  inventory list of historic property. The biggest challenge was to get the signature of the Minister Gaby Lyon to convert the historic inventory list to the list of cultural properties, in preparation for the re-opening. However the Minister did not sign it, and only submitted a request to the committee of legislation and consultancy to determine the legality of the work on the theatre in preparation for it to be opened.

In the last two years, the Ministry of Culture has not documented  or approved clear mechanisms to support Lebanese theatre, except for the issuance of decree No. 10061 (1232013) to transfer a £90 million letter of credit as a contribution to the City Theatre in Beirut to pay its annual rent in 2012.

Chapter published: 07-04-2016