Lebanon/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.1 Cultural infrastructure: tendencies & strategies

Re-allocation of public responsibilities (privatization, restructuring etc.)

Restructuring of the new Ministry of Culture in Lebanon took place very recently. The new organizational regulations were issued in October 2008 (see chapter 5: 5-1-4, 5-1-5). Regarding privatization, private sector precedes public sector far ahead in cultural field; it is more ambitious, effective and strategic and is not affected by the current Lebanese situation (sectarianism, nepotism etc.).

Dr. Ghassan Salameh’s words in his interview with Al-Nahar in December 2000, when was Minister of Culture, were expressive of the need for real change in the Ministry planning. He rejected the “begging and spending” or "begging for expenditure" approach. His first goal was to turn culture into an independent productive sector that can give and not take, and contributes to the national economy as other productive sectors.

Dr. Salameh pointed out that simply offering support and assistance prevents the emergence of dynamism in the cultural movement. He considers that current spending policy (providing assistance and other material offerings) is no longer feasible in the “economy of knowledge and pleasure” as he put it. Culture in developed countries has become a productive sector, and Ministries of Culture must promote cultural dynamics rather than just sponsoring and service distribution. A minister of culture should not be a decision maker; there should be competent national commissions in each art and cultural sector that own the decision-making power, which should not remain discretionary to the Minister’s central authority. Minister Salameh’s ambition was inhibited by many circumstances as red tape and corruption, though he realized it in some activities which marked his term in the ministry.

Chapter published: 07-04-2016