Syria/ 8.1 Support to artists and other creative workers  

8.1.3 Grants, awards, scholarships

With the exception of production grants given by the organizers of "Damascus, the Capital of Arab Culture Celebration" in 2008 to some young artists to support their artistic product (for one time only) in specific fields; writing, theater, film, and cartoons, artists virtually receive no grants from the State or any sector. The youth scholarships program that has been provided by the General Organization for Cinema since 2012 was ongoing at the date of completing this research.

In addition, the Country has no resident colleges program, and willing artists work on building up their experience via:


Graduates of the Faculty of Fine Arts, High Institute for Theatrical Arts, High Institute for Music and High Institute for Ballet, following the example of their fellow graduates from all Syrian universities, benefit from the grant system offered by the Ministry of Higher Education "MOHE" (students are dispatched overseas to complete their education in delegations formed according to the requirements of government ministries). Artists are often dispatched for the benefit of the ministries of Culture, Education, Information and Higher Education. The dispatched persons are treated as State employees and are given monthly allowance for the duration of their scholarship  and they are required to work at the relevant ministry for a period equalling double the time of the sholarship period.

Students of community colleges affiliated to MOC also benefit from the agreements signed by MOC, which enables them to exchange expertise via short-term scholarships during their study or benefit from some longer scholarships (usually lasting several months). Graduates of the High Institute for Theatrical Arts, High Institute for Music, and High Institute for Ballet often benefit from the second type (study in Avignon, France in some technical theatrical specialties).

Syrian artists also benefit from the grants offered by some foreign cultural centers: French Cultural Center, British Council, Instituto Cervantes, and Goethe-Institute.

Prizes and competitions

Over the past few years an increasing number of awards competitions in the fields of literature, music, and plastic arts have been organized, such as Damascus Poster Fair -which was discontinued at the beginning of the popular revolutionary movement - and Lottery Design Competition organized annually by the Public Institution for Fairs, the International Caricature Competition organized by Al-Baath Newspaper and the Musicians Competition organized by the MOC's Arab Institute for Music. At the date of completing this research, their activity was ongoing, but within specific political directives wherein the Ministry of Culture announced in 2014 the competition for Arabic calligraphy, which constitutes writing the first verse of the official national anthem “Defenders of the realm peace be on you/our proud spirits will not be subdued”.   

And in addition to some literary competitions organized by MOC and some directorates of culture on governorate level, there are other irregular awards competitions organized by private agencies and institutions and international oil companies that were operating in Syria. It is noted that in the years before 2011 the number of children’s competitions had increased in the fields of painting, story, and music.

On 19/1/2012, legislative decree No.11 for the year 2012 was issued, which stipulates the foundation of two prizes in the field of literature and art for intellectuals, artists and the creative as these two prizes, which are an amount of money and a golden medal, shall be given annually and allowed neither to be shared nor granted to the dead.


  1. An art prize in one of the following specializations “music, theater, cinema, plastic and practical arts, visual communications”.

  2. A literature prize in one of the following specializations “poetry, novel, short story, play, children literature”.

  3. A prize in artistic and literature criticism, linguistic and literature study, translation and human sciences.



Artists in various fields (acting, literature, writing, thought, and painting) are often honored by awarding them presidential orders of merit in recognition of their works and accomplishments meant to serve art.

Honoring seminars

Several honoring seminars have been organized over the past few years in most governorates to honor men of letters, thinkers and prominent artists.

Chapter published: 09-05-2016