Syria/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model

The main entry to analyze Cultural Policy Model in Syria is the administrative level (decision-making) and the financial level (National Budget distribution).

Chapters 2, 5 and 6 of this research show that the existing model in Syria is the socialist model; the State had played, until the uprising started in 2011, the fundamental role in patronizing culture and arts, through a network of institutions concerned with all aspects of cultural life. The main difference that we have noticed in the past ten years (2000-2010), even though the State is still the main patron of cultural life,  is that the Ministry of Culture is no longer the only player.  However, the cultural movement in Syria cannot be seen without considering the slow, clear-cut changes that are reflected on many fields, mainly: the new forms of production, the role of the Governmental Cultural Institutions, the infrastructure such as the private sector investments in culture and the civil society organizations.

The cultural policy model changes in Syria until March 2011:

  • The Patronage Model: Senior officials in the regime patronize many artistic and cultural activities and supervises them directly. Furthermore, they often take initiatives towards creating work opportunities to mobilize the Syrian human capabilities.

  • The Socialist Model: through developing the public sector, where legislations, work mechanism and regulations were slowly changing , while the official institution plays a new role due to the presence of parallel sectors or recognized individual initiatives that are capable of taking action.

Openness in the cultural production market, which started in the 1980s and has been increasing in the past few years (and which has witnessed a visible decline since 2011 and at the time of making this report due to the crisis in Syria). This openness is internally moving towards the local cultural production and externally toward the foreign cultural production.

Fundamental transformations after March 2011

After the uprising had started in Syria, even though there were no noticeable changes concerning decision-making mechanisms on the national level, there are fundamental factors that have newly appeared and dramatically changed the cultural scene and predict a long-term change on the cultural policy level, however the political change is shaped in the country. The most important factor is that dozens of civil institutions and assemblies that were interested in the cultural matter have now left the frame of regulations and laws, and the unfamiliar activity in the civil assemblies. This change could be temporary and might be reduced later if there are no efforts paid in getting support and building coalitions towards the development of the independent sector as a force pushing political transform mechanisms on the cultural level later.

Chapter published: 06-05-2016