Syria/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.1 Trends and figures

Figures provided by the Central Bureau for Statistics (Prime Ministry), in addition to the figures provided by MOC indicate the changes that took place during the past few years concerning the county's cultural activities in terms o type and number of cultural institutions, number of cultural activities and participation rates.


The most distinguishing feature of Syria cultural activities (official, civil, and even activities conducted by foreign cultural centers) is that they are concentrated in the major cities (Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia, and Homs), and apart from of the activities conducted by the Syrian Trust for Development in the relatively remote governorates and cities, there is hardly any cultural event worth mentioning.



Trends and figures

1.   Statistical data of activities strongly supported by the government

Number of visitors of museums and archaeological sites:

(Source: Central Bureau for Statistics "CBS") 

 

Year

Number of visitors

Number of visitors

Total

to museums

to archaeological sites

2000

517645

1313729

1831374

2001

421868

898279

1320147

2002

341467

640520

981987

2003

306301

650834

957135

2004

474661

1169375

1644036

2005

549025

1212361

1761386

2006

505336

1119930

1625266

 

In the absence of any official statistics we have had to follow small pieces of news to find out about the current state of tourism, museums and archaeological sites in Syria. The Syrian Minister of Tourism stated in front of the People’s Council on 19/3/2014 that tourism has fallen by 98%, as have tourism investments as a result of what the country is currently going through. The value of direct and indirect damages to the tourism sector reached to 330 billion Syrian pounds, a rate of 25 billion pounds per month. The General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums published a detailed report[1] on the damages to museums and archaeological sites in Syria since the  crisis began in 2011 up to the end of September 2014.  According to the report the number of damaged archaeological sites according has reached 501 sites (with various damages), with recognition by the Directorate that some  damaged sites could not be documented due to the ongoing war in the region.

Number of art activities staged at the Opera House (Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts) from 7 May to 31December 2008 (Source: Opera House – MOC, CBS)

 

Type of activity

Total number

Theater

74

Theater-dancing + dancing activities

58

Solo

42

Classical and Arab orchestra and chamber music

138

Film festivals and screenings

16 festivals / 382 films

Seminars, conferences and lectures.

24

Singing performances

92

Fairs

21

Total number of performances

771

Total number of nights

671

Total number of audience

704564

 


Number of theaters and plays shown 2000-2007

 

Year

No. of Audience

No. Of performing days

No. of Plays

No. of theaters

 

2001

78000

586

29

5

 

2002

54265

398

27

4

 

2003

54265

398

27

4

 

2004

63000

315

21

4

 

2005

30000

150

14

6

 

2006

111000

555

37

5

 

2007

75807

342

41

8

 


Activity of cultural centers 2003-2007

 

 

Type of Activity

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

 

Cultural Activity

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lectures & Seminars

6962

8069

8608

1386

10567

 

Authors Seminars

2361

2472

2506

3492

2660

 

Hearing Sessions

2980

3373

3642

3838

3742

 

Movie Shows

1267

1092

1472

1366

1336

 

Television Shows

5886

6798

6709

5890

6119

 

Social Activity

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meetings

4040

4525

4882

5075

5972

 

Trips

99

117

160

133

158

 

Exhibitions

801

772

745

442

602

 

Performances

385

503

761

773

1009

 

Parties & Festivals

660

765

753

740

1645

 

No. of Books Readers

990431

1077628

1042821

1251780

1183716

 

Adults

681663

749010

707694

786422

837873

 

Children

308768

328618

335127

465358

345843

 

No. of newspapers and magazines readers

262090

303248

278161

636324

251175

 

Material indicators

Unit

Year

2000

Year

2001

Year

2002

Year

2003

Year

2004

Year

2006

Year

2007

Cultural centers

Center

320

348

370

396

330

421

438

Cultural centers' seats

Seat

23664

23664

-

-

-

29891

28898

Cinemas

Cinema

48

48

48

42

42

42

-

Cinema seats

Seat

25300

25300

25300

25300

26500

26500

-

Theaters

Theater

2

2

3

5

5

5

5

Theater seats

Seat

24043

24043

27043

1350

-

1350

1350

Cultural prints

Title

124

124

133

115

150

172

111

 

Copy

85280

100020

219100

230000

250000

175521

182500

Literacy classes

Class

4540

3788

5213

3099

2844

3628

55407

Literacy enrollees

Person

84536

67743

96834

62360

58630

60138

108328

 

Overall variables and main indicators of MOC (source: MOC–Directorate of Statistics)



Students and graduates of high and intermediate institutes 2008

Institute

Graduates

 

Students

 

Number of Institutes

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

The high institutes

Theatrical Art

11

7

18

102

160

262

1

Music

16

6

22

84

29

113

1

Training Institutes & department specialization

 

Applied Art

5

17

22

59

87

146

1

Ruins and Museums

6

28

34

52

76

128

1

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Students, university graduates and academic staff, classified by sex, university and faculty 2007/08
 

Faculty / University

Students

Freshmen

Graduates

Academic Staff

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

Architectural

Engineering

Damascus

Aleppo

Teshreen

Al Baath

514

480

239

261

665

407

265

259

105

103

48

55

163

101

51

61

106

66

30

30

82

53

45

40

48

30

29

39

38

39

30

26

Fine Arts

Damascus

Aleppo

As- sweida

360

125

29

517

177

28

59

71

29

113

60

28

65

-

-

93

-

-

66

-

-

25

-

-

Music

Al Baath

141

73

21

22

11

11

6

2

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The vision of the tenth project for the cultural sector was “Considering the cultural project as an investment in human resources and civilized heritage, and employ it to support the other service and production sectors for the purpose of preparing the national economy and society, and building the Syrian people to prepare them for the requirements of the next stage. It also considered the cultural activity as a primary component of the ones of human rights and freedoms of expression, and enabling citizens, in general, and cultural ones, in particular, in the fields of development and creativity for the cause of establishing a society with a very high level of cultural consciousness that’s characterized with creativity.” 


Eradication of illiteracy: the illiteracy ratio of the group aged 15 years old and older decreased from 19% in 2005 to 14% in 2010.


According to the regional report Education for All completed by UNESCO’s regional office  in 2014

about 3 million Syrian children inside and outside the country do not attend school, and the rate of destroyed or damaged schools or schools that have turned into shelters of have been occupied by armed groups or forces is 20%.



This report was a reflection of the political crisis and war that Syria is going through and therefore ahead of us is an unprecedented illiteracy rate in Syria society.   


Cultural centers and forums: the number of cultural centers in 2005 reached 423 to become 510 later in 2010 which is an increase with 87 centers, although the 10th FYP had indicated achieving 73 centers only. Also, the number of cultural centers outside the country has increased to reach 5 after the opening of a center in Yemen. In addition, cultural centers have been supplied with internet forums with an average of 10 annually in the years of the Plan.


On 17/2/2013 in an interview with the official Syrian newspaper Tishrin, the Minister of Culture stated that the it had set up cultural centers at the disposal of the Ministry of National Reconciliation Affairs.   


Folk cultural institutes: an increase, from 75 institutes in 2005 to 115 institutes in 2010. The Ministry has also worked on modifying the programs of folk cultural institutes to connect them with the needs of the labor market according to the kind and nature of the governorate or district and to encourage traditional industries and the works of ceramics and pottery that adopt statues and sculptures of Syrian archaeological instinct according to districts.


Theatrical plays, cinema, and children theater: some indicators related to theater and cinema during the 10th FYP: although the number of theaters had remained five until the year 2010, the number of theatrical plays and audients increased by a good ratio and it reached its zenith in 2008 in the event of Damascus, the Capital of Arab Culture.


Books, publications, and public libraries: the most important indicator related to books and public libraries is “publications of the Ministry of Culture” during the 10th FYP: the number of open-air exhibitions increased from 10 in 2006 to 16 in 2010 and titles of publications increased from 172 to 244 titles, while the number of copies had a quantum leap as the number decreased from 1,775,521 in 2006 to 404,500 in 2010. What’s worth observing is that the number of readers of Al-Assad Library had an unstable condition of increase and decrease and reached the bottom in the year 2008.



Archaeology and museums:

  • Museums: the number of museums has increased during the 10th FYP by two to become 28 museums. Also, the number of visitors increased from 548,966 in 2005 to 811,765 at the end of 2010.

  • Archaeological sites: the number of archaeological sites, those of incomes, has increased during the 10th FYP by three to become 28 archaeological sites. Also, the number of visitors increased from 1212361 in 2005 to become 2025779 at the end of the 10th FYP. Also, the number of archaeological sites discovered reached 5: Tel Ash’irat, Tel Mabtouh, Tel Katana, Der Marian and Tel AL Hariri.

  • Workers in the archaeological fields: the number of workers in the archaeological fields increased from 1,536 in the year 2005 to 1,933 at the end of the 10th FYP.

  • Expeditions: the number of expeditions that work in the field of drilling and restoration reached 123 in 2005 and the number increased to be 138 at the end of the 10th FYP.

  • Incomes of archaeology and museums: the incomes of archaeological sites and museums reached 85,520,630 SYP in 2005 and the number increased during the 10th FYP to become 193,669,090 SYP in 2010.


During the past four years there have not been any reliable statistics and studies with regard to the number of cultural centers and public cultural academies that are still offering services; nor are there reliable studies in relation to theater activity and foreign book fairs. The only reliable document regarding antiquities and museums is the report completed by the General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums which confirms 501 museums and archaeological sites damaged as a result of the ongoing war in Syria.  



Data of activities not strongly supported by the government

The issuance of new daily, weekly and monthly private prints recently (after the passing of the Press Law, which officially endorsed the private information sector) did not increased or decrees the number of newspaper readers except in very limited margins since the same reader only replaced one newspaper with another.


In 2005 Ath-Thawra Newspaper published the data of the Public Establishment for the Distribution of Printed Material:

Number of official newspapers sold:

  • Tishrin Daily: 21259 copies
  • Al-Thawra Daily: 33233 copies
  • Al-Baath Daily: 6700 copies


On 11/2/2007, Tishrin Daily published the results of a survey conducted by 10 of its editors that included around 800 samples from all social categories:

  • Regular newspaper readers:            39%
  • Irregular newspaper readers:          61%


Al-Thawra Daily came in the first position in terms of percentage of daily newspaper readers with 15%, while Tishrin came second with 14% and Al-Baath third with 10%.


Despite the abundance of (cultural and information) websites in Syria, there are no accurate statistics about the number of readers, bearing in mind that the number of internet subscribers in the Syria reached 844.000 via dial-up application while the number of ADSL broad band subscribers reached 13.955 by the end of the first half of 2009 according to the figures provided by the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment.


The number of internet users in Syria is estimated to be 10.8% of the total population according the latest statistics, which indicates that the number of beneficiaries of this service are very little and are from a specific social category.


According to the International Union of Telecommunication, the number of people who were using internet in Syria in 2010 reached 4,595,900 which is 20.70% of the total population, while in 2012, the percentage reached 22%.


In 2012 the rate reached 22%. According to the report made by IPSOS for the first quarter of 2013, the number of internet users in Syria aged above 15 reached 2,736,715 users. In 2014, Syria was listed number 17 in the Arab world and 185 internationally when it comes to internet speed.   



Rate of participation in popular cultural activities

Pre-2011, there were around 56 festivals staged in Syria, and usually each city or governorate organizes its own festival. There are no statistics that reflect the number of masses participation in those festivals, but the Syrian public actively takes part in popular festivals such as Al Mahaba Festival in Latakia, which is a culture, art, and sport festival launched at first through official sponsorship and then by Latakia Governorate. This event is one of the biggest festivals in the country and it attracts wide range of people, in addition to Marmarita Annual carnival which also attracts a large audience. Assindian Cultural Festival in Almlaja village in Tartous whose first period was in 1996 and  the fourteenth and last period (because of the crisis) in 2011. The festival had hosted important cultural and artistic figures throughout its consecutive periods.


Street performances are not a key part of Syrian culture and are often organized by the foreign cultural centers. The audience of these shows is normally the persons who follow the activities of these centers, some pedestrians and the everyday theater lovers.


Street music performances on the other hand has a large audience such as "Music on the Road Program" staged by SADA Foundation in cooperation with Damascus Governorate, and "Damascus Nights", which is a blend of music and singing shows performed by local musicians and bands first launched in the summer of 2009 and staged at the main squares of the city of Damascus on Fridays.


The saying that a good cultural activity attracts good audience applies on Syria since the number of people attending these festivals increases gradually by the continuation and variety of these festivals and their suitability to the taste of young people in particular. This fact was confirmed by the "Damascus Capital of Arab Culture" celebration since it attracted a large audience, particularly young people.


The size and appeal of advertisement about cultural activities also plays a part in attracting more people.


The "Cultural Diaries" Project, which is a monthly publication issued in Arabic and English (around 5000 copies distributed in Damascus for free) that covers all official and private cultural activities, was launched in the beginning of 2008 through an initiative from a number of artists and journalists supported by MOC and a number of European organizations (Euro-Med), SIDA and the EU, and local foundations, such as MAS. This program contributed considerably in expanding the popular base that follows the cultural activities staged in Damascus. It’s worth to mention that all previous activities have stopped along with the start of the uprising, while cultural activities have gone down to those of the official institutions and within small areas that are not witnessing a political movement.



 

In the absence of any official statistics we have had to follow small pieces of news to find out about the current state of tourism, museums and archaeological sites in Syria. The Syrian Minister of Tourism stated in front of the People’s Council on 19/3/2014 that tourism has fallen by 98%, as have tourism investments as a result of what the country is currently going through. The value of direct and indirect damages to the tourism sector reached to 330 billion Syrian pounds, a rate of 25 billion pounds per month. The General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums published a detailed report[1] on the damages to museums and archaeological sites in Syria since the  crisis began in 2011 up to the end of September 2014.  According to the report the number of damaged archaeological sites according has reached 501 sites (with various damages), with recognition by the Directorate that some  damaged sites could not be documented due to the ongoing war in the region.     

Number of art activities staged at the Opera House (Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts) from 7 May to 31December 2008 (Source: Opera House – MOC, CBS)

 

Type of activity

Total number

Theater

74

Theater-dancing + dancing activities

58

Solo

42

Classical and Arab orchestra and chamber music

138

Film festivals and screenings

16 festivals / 382 films

Seminars, conferences and lectures.

24

Singing performances

92

Fairs

21

Total number of performances

771

Total number of nights

671

Total number of audience

704564

 


 

Number of theaters and plays shown 2000-2007

 

 

Year

No. of Audience

No. Of performing days

No. of Plays

No. of theaters

 

2001

78000

586

29

5

 

2002

54265

398

27

4

 

2003

54265

398

27

4

 

2004

63000

315

21

4

 

2005

30000

150

14

6

 

2006

111000

555

37

5

 

2007

75807

342

41

8

 

Activity of cultural centers 2003-2007

 

 

Type of Activity

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

 

Cultural Activity

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lectures & Seminars

6962

8069

8608

1386

10567

 

Authors Seminars

2361

2472

2506

3492

2660

 

Hearing Sessions

2980

3373

3642

3838

3742

 

Movie Shows

1267

1092

1472

1366

1336

 

Television Shows

5886

6798

6709

5890

6119

 

Social Activity

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meetings

4040

4525

4882

5075

5972

 

Trips

99

117

160

133

158

 

Exhibitions

801

772

745

442

602

 

Performances

385

503

761

773

1009

 

Parties & Festivals

660

765

753

740

1645

 

No. of Books Readers

990431

1077628

1042821

1251780

1183716

 

Adults

681663

749010

707694

786422

837873

 

Children

308768

328618

335127

465358

345843

 

No. of newspapers and magazines readers

262090

303248

278161

636324

251175

 

Material indicators

Unit

Year

2000

Year

2001

Year

2002

Year

2003

Year

2004

Year

2006

Year

2007

Cultural centers

Center

320

348

370

396

330

421

438

Cultural centers' seats

Seat

23664

23664

-

-

-

29891

28898

Cinemas

Cinema

48

48

48

42

42

42

-

Cinema seats

Seat

25300

25300

25300

25300

26500

26500

-

Theaters

Theater

2

2

3

5

5

5

5

Theater seats

Seat

24043

24043

27043

1350

-

1350

1350

Cultural prints

Title

124

124

133

115

150

172

111

 

Copy

85280

100020

219100

230000

250000

175521

182500

Literacy classes

Class

4540

3788

5213

3099

2844

3628

55407

Literacy enrollees

Person

84536

67743

96834

62360

58630

60138

108328

 

Overall variables and main indicators of MOC (source: MOC–Directorate of Statistics)


Chapter published: 09-05-2016


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