Lebanon/ 6. Financing of culture  

6.3. Trends and indicators for private cultural financing

Private sector expends on culture in two ways: production and sponsorship. The first way, of course, aims at having profits through the production regardless of any cultural policy. In the second way, sponsors vary; from companies, banks, large clubs, and financers looking for a kind of prestige acquired through subsidizing cultural activities, to people who are really interested in cultural affairs, so they support and receive  money and prestige in return.

In festivals' budgets, for example, private companies play a major role, especially as festival committees often have to acquire bank loans at high interest rates. So, they have no option but resorting to the partners and sponsors to get their support to pay the interests.

For example, Société Générale Bank, The Mediterranean Bank, Medgulf Insurance Co. are major partners of Bait Ad-den Festival. CMA CGM Co., Al-Waleed bin Talal Foundation and the Arab Company for Insurance are major financiers of Baal beck Festival. Each artist or troupe also has a special sponsor or more.


Independent (civil) sector expenditure

In fact, many civil institutions and organizations work in the cultural domain in Lebanon. These associations may be enthusiastic at work; each within its own sphere. They, of course, need funding, which comes, particularly, from many foreign agencies. It is known that these associations cannot rely on one donor; so, each association works, not only to develop and implement the project, but also to convince more than one donor of its usefulness. For example, ASSABIL Association –a very active association in the establishment of free public libraries in Lebanon, depends on local and foreign agencies; it is a main partner of Anna Lindh Foundation. Iqraa (Read) Association, Bahithat- Lebanese Association of Women Researchers and Dar Al Khayyat Al Saghir. This partnership emerged in the Development of Children's Literature in Lebanon Project. Heinrich Boll Foundation financed the project book titled "99 Recipes to Spice Up the Taste of Reading", which addresses how children and adolescents can be encouraged and motivated to read. ASSABIL relies, also, on other agencies depending on the project it carries out; in the Public Libraries Project, the number of libraries will increase because of the cooperation between the Municipality of Beirut and the ell-de-France Region.

ASSBIL Association situation summarizes the situations of other active associations acting in Lebanon: constant and persisting search for financers who spend money on projects contributing in cultural development.

Before the end of this paragraph, we will take paragraphs 6.6 and 6.7 to view information and figures mentioned in a recent study about the economic contribution of the copyright-based industries. It is worth mentioning that the study carried out by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in agreement with MoC, has not separated the two aforementioned sectors.

The study reveals that the copyright-based industries contribute to the GDP by around US$1.044 million with 53.31% of that generated by the basic copyright-based industries; 49,666 employees are employed in the copyright-based sectors with around 46.44% in the basic industries. The copyright-based industries contribute to 4.75% of the GDP and 4.49% of employment. The basic industries contribute to 2.53% of the GDP and 2.11% of employment. The industries that have a specific connection with copyrights contribute to 0.71% of the GDP, partial ones contribute to 0.62%, and non-specified to, but support, copyright-based industries contribute to 0.89%. They contribute to 0.73%, 0.7%, and 0.95% respectively of employment.

Copyrights and basic industries generate a value-added of US$ 555.52 million. This value-added is generated from the nine following sectors: Press and Literature (29.8%), Music, Theater, Opera (13%), Motion Pictures and Video (11.6%), Radio and Television (13.3%), Photography (1.8%), Software and Databases (15.3%), Visual and Graphic Arts (9.1%), Advertisement (6.1%), and Copyright Collecting Societies (0.1%).

There are 6,236 operators in the basic industries employing 23,364 workers, who are distributed among the nine sectors as follows: Press and Literature (39.42%), Music, Theater, Opera (10.27%), Motion Pictures and Video (11.74%), Radio and Television (16.66%), Photography (1.99%), Software and Databases (10.51%), Visual and Graphic Arts (5.99%), Advertisement (3.38%), and Copyright Collecting Societies (0.03%).


Foreign agency expenditure

Much care is given by the West and Arab countries to Lebanon, covering not only political dues, but culture as well. Foreign interest in the country is resulted from the circumstances of its creation and development.

Many budgets from foreign agencies are allocated to subsidize cultural activities in Lebanon, but most of them are little ones compared with the billions spent on other development projects. Most donors, however, consider them relatively large when compared with the funds awarded to subsidize cultural activities in other bigger countries, such as Egypt, Morocco and others. This fact was explained to Al Safir Newspaper by Francisco Acosta when he was the ambassador of the European Commission Delegation in Lebanon. Half of the EC Delegation budget allocated to cultural activities goes to subsidize European Film Festival, while the other half, estimated at Euro 130,000, is used to invite offers to support other activities in Lebanon, on the basis that funding should be open to everybody. As for the budget allocated for each program, as Acosta explained, "The average subsidization to each cultural project ranges between 20 and 40 thousand Euros, and we usually resort to co-financing when the project requires."

It is known that Lebanon has signed the Association Agreement with the European Union on 17 June 2002, which was certified by the Lebanese Parliament and other concerned European parliaments. The Agreement came into effect in April 2006. In September 2004, the European Council issued a law to develop a Financial Mechanism of the European Neighborhood and Partnership Policy, which became effective in 2007 and lasts till 2013.

For Lebanon, the Neighborhood Policy (ENP) offers many opportunities including: encouraging cultural, scientific and technological exchange through specialized programs.

With the ENP, 187 million Euros have been allocated as aids for the period 2007-2010. The European Union has funded reformatory projects in Lebanon; 3 million Euros to subsidize civil society, through the NGOs that are active in the promotion of citizenship and dialogue.

The EU fund is, of course, larger than the funds granted by each of the European Institutes, Centers and Embassies separately.

American money also is spent on many projects in Lebanon, including cultural projects through the "U.S. Agency for International Development" and other institutions. Scholarships are granted to some universities with millions of dollars; such as the donation granted in May to the Lebanese American University; this donation reached more than one million dollar and is only a part of a total donation of USD 2,315,000.

As for the associations, the aforementioned agency grants more modest amounts, such as the USD 50,000 awarded in November 2008 to the Association of Old Students of the Institute of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University to help the students buy equipment for the fourth branch of the Lebanese University in Deir al Qamar Town.

Lebanon, also, receives funds to subsidize cultural sectors from some Gulf States. The most important project of those is the House of Culture and Arts - the Lebanese-Omani Center, funded by Sultanate of Oman through a donation of US$ 20 million, and whose corner stone was set on February 5, 2009.

Chapter published: 07-04-2016