Syria/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.1 Cultural infrastructure: tendencies & strategies

The State in Syria is still considered the authority in-power of developing cultural work mechanisms and mainly planning its policies, the State performs that through its FYP’s and what it includes of strategies and orientations.

Former FYP's kept their view to the cultural activities as a sector of consuming services to be funded by the general budget without considering profitability or  any added value that may enhance economic growth rates. This made the cultural activity and its policy subject to the government work since the private sector and civil society organizations are not considered partners in planning the cultural policies. However, the 10th FYP planed its strategies based on a new vision in order to raise the cultural level through involving the private sector and encouraging and supporting the non-governmental cultural work and giving space for the civil community organizations to contribute to planning and executing the cultural policies.

This new vision has been reflected through a number of new projects and new institutions that use relatively new methods and mechanisms, the most apparent are: Syria Trust for Development, Makan Society and Na7na Organization.

Syria Trust for Development-STD:

  1. Established in 2007 as a non-profit non-government developmental institution in Syria, (it is legally registered as a private association at the Ministry of Social Affaire and Labor in accordance with the associations law of the year 1958, it aims to take over development projects in three domains; education, rural development, culture, and heritage). This Trust works independently and in association with the government, the private sector, and international organizations in projects that have cultural and developmental dimensions. (STD Board of Trustees is chaired by Mrs. Asma Al-Assad, as a citizen. The Board major responsibility is to periodically review and evaluate the STD objectives, activities and strategic performance to ensure fulfilling and executing its goals, management responsibilities are assigned to the executive management team.)

  2. These organizations receive help and support from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Local Municipalities and the Institutes concerned of cultural matter in addition to the margin of direct benefiting of the foreign funding and the international partnerships and that because of the privilege of the kind high level sponsorship it is enjoying, also it is not adopting the same management structure like the official culture institutes with regard to the working mechanism and governmental subordination, according to new management and organization structure which make it bypass a lot of obstacles and contribute in work success, (since the STD staff salaries are comparably higher than the salaries of those working with the Government).

  3. The organizational and regulatory frame of the Secretariat of "Damascus Capital of Arab Culture 2008" was very remarkable. It enabled the Secretariat to overcome administrative and procedural obstacles which often hinder the working mechanisms in official cultural institutions. Although the Secretariat was directly affiliated to the Council of Ministers and Ministry of Culture, it had financial and legal autonomy which ensured flexible working mechanisms and decision making. This was the major cause to achieve rewarding and fast results, which encouraged foreign cultural centers and donor organizations to support it. (Refer to paragraph 2-2 - Damascus Capital of Arab Culture 2008)

The Secretariat enjoyed freedom of choosing its staff through contracts that grant them bigger salaries than those of government employees (the government applies the regulations of the Labor Law and Employment Office to the salaries and employment). This enabled it to attract many expertise, names and technical qualifications.

Chapter published: 09-05-2016