Lebanon/ 6. Financing of culture  

6.1 Short overview

"The Ministry determines the subsidy for (theatrical performances -troupes, film festivals and theater festivals), only after making assessment of other means of subsidization available from other official and private bodies ".  This phrase, which is repeated many times in the Subsidization Policy Terms adopted by the Ministry of Culture (MoC) in Lebanon, may summarize the story of official finance to culture. The MoC assesses the share of subsidization for any project according to the subsidy it gets from other parties, whether official such as the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) (which subsidizes festivals) or private sector agencies, NGOs, embassies, and international organizations. This indicates that the MoC role in financing its own sector is very small.

To summarize a comparison between official finance for cultural sector in Lebanon and private one, it will be enough to look into this simple comparison: the estimated expenditures[1] of the MoC in 2008 were about 19 billion Lebanese pounds, which equals to 12 million US dollars. While if we put together the budgets of international festivals that take place  annually in Lebanon, such as Baal beck, Bait Ad-dine, Byblos, Tyre, Al-Zouk, and  Al-bustan  festivals, their actual budgets will exceed the budget ceiling of the MoC. Baalbek Festivals' budget, for example, is up to two million dollars, and Beiteddine Festivals' budget ranges between US$1.5 million and US$ 2.5 million.

The Ministry allocates an annual budget for the National Museum as well as the National Library. As for the National Committee of the UNESCO, it has other sources of funding in addition to the budget allocated by the Ministry, knowing that the Budget of MoC makes 0.01 of the general budget of the public income, which was   80 million LL budget approved in 2005 and  was small because budget of public income was poor.

"Members of Finance and Budget Committee in 22012013 have noticed that the percentage of MoC budget was 0.2% of the total general budget.

Since the current international course adopts a percentage of no less than 1% of the total budget of MoC, we have demanded that MoC be allocated 1% of the total of any future budget, given the importance of this Ministry on the level of scientific, cultural and touristic development of the country"

With every amount spent by the MoC on a specific project, there are actually times of that amount spent by private and independent sector, NGOs, embassies and international organizations.

According to an article issued by Alsafir Newspaper Online on 10072013, "4.3 billion LL credits have been spotted in the form of contributions provided to councils, organizations, clubs, cultural gatherings, in addition to the support offered to plays writers, filmmakers, Lebanese Writers` Union as well as the Artists` Unified Solidarity Funds.

In addition to increased funds allocated for publications (item 12) in the 200 million LL draft budget of MoC, for the issuance of a Ministry-dedicated quarterly magazine given the important role it plays in enhancing, encouraging and upgrading culture.

The State’s contribution in the draft budget for the Higher Institute of Music in 2013 was also increased by 1.7 billion LL to become 16.5 billion LL  compared to a notable increase of 15 billion LL of the 2013 draft budget"


It is worth mentioning that the word “budget” is not accurate since there is no general budget of the Government of Lebanon, and therefore the budgets of ministries approved since 2006 get funded in accordance with rule 12, through transfer of appropriations from the general budget reserve by virtue, in 2014 as follows:

In accordance with Decrees No. 80 and 81, funds have been transferred from the reserve budget of general provisions to the budget of the Ministry of Culture and the General Directorate of Antiquities on the basis of rule 12. The amounts estimated for the first provisions were 5 billion and 19 million Lebanese pounds. The second credit was for fifty-five million Lebanese pounds, to cover the differences in compensations associated with salaries.

In accordance with Decree No. 69, the General Directorate of the Ministry of Culture adopted 205 million Lebanese pounds to cover supplies for Administration and Management and allocations, salaries and wages, and salaries for retirees and advisers.

In accordance with Decree No. 12012, an amount of 13 million pounds was transferred to the General Directorate of Antiquities.

Based on the above, the total value of the exchange rate of the Ministry of Culture in 2014 was published in the Official Gazette as 5,409,000,000 Lebanese pounds.



First half of 2008

2nd half (A) of 2008

2nd half (B) of  2008

Estimated Expenditures of 2008






General Directorate of Culture, of which:





Higher Institute of Music





General Directorate of Antiquities






MoC Budget 2008 2011 according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).


First half of 2011

2nd half (A) of 2011

2nd half (B) of  2011

Estimated Expenditures of 2011










General Directorate of Culture, of which:









Higher Institute of Music









General Directorate of Antiquities









[1]               The word "estimated" is mentioned in the reference from which we took this information, i.e. MoF.  The Government couldn't endorse the Budget in 2008 due to the political circumstances. So, this word is used.

Chapter published: 07-04-2016