Lebanon/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.3 Cultural/creative industries: policies and programmes

Cultural industries focus on the content of the general concept of a cultural organization (films, tapes, performances, publishing, occupations and arts) and that of the media (radio, television, newspapers, publishing houses, periodicals) (Makhlouf Boukrouh: Introduction to the management of cultural  p 44).

The MoC gives annual budget to support cultural activities. In 2001, MoC added a special budget term to support the Lebanese cinema. In its budget there are five terms on of creativity and cultural development activities support, as follows: 

  • A term of encouraging authorship and publication.
  • A term of encouraging plastic arts.
  • A term of supporting theatrical work.
  • A term of supporting cinema production.
  • A term of supporting culture bodies.

Some sources estimate the weight of cultural industries (in broad terms) is equal to that of the financial and banking sector, i.e. 6-7% of GDP (www.culture.gov.lb)

Although Lebanon has the position to invest in culture, the MOC budget did not exceed 0.5% of 2002 budget. The limited contributions to the public sector reflect evident shortcomings in the awareness of Lebanese political and economic elites of the importance and relevance of cultural investment. The estimated income of this sector is up to $ 50 million annually, but invested capitals come mostly from the Gulf countries. About 80% of the artistic production is financed by Arab funds. Recording a six-song album costs between $16,000 and $54,000, and some albums cost up to $200,000, while the distribution budget of one album reaches up to $100,000. 

The problem with this production (classified as cultural in modern terms) is that it focuses on quantity rather than quality and its income does not necessarily go to Lebanon. In reverse to the flourishing music industry, film industry has hit a bottom of inactivity. While millions of dollars are invested in albums, film production is almost invisible. The UNESCO estimated film production in Lebanon at a rate of five movies a year, while Lebanon in the 1960s and 1970s would produce 50 films a year. The main reasons include the absence of appropriate legal framework to protect this sector and its workers and the absence of national support institutions and funds. That is why the contribution of film and music industries to the Lebanese economy is still modest. Despite the clamor of the Lebanese cultural movement, it is still generating modest income. It is believed that this income does not exceed $ 675 million annually. Writing and publishing comes first with $200 million, followed by the audiovisual industry with around $ 80 million, and music and singing ($ 50 million), while the number of workers in this field is about  17,000 people( Sawsan Al Abtah: Reading through the book). As a result of these poor budgets, the Ministry of Culture believes that the best solution lies in supporting young artists rather than veterans since its budget does not allow supporting high-cost projects proposed by veteran artists. 

Chapter published: 07-04-2016