Istikshaf is a platform of regional arts and culture organisations that have identified mobility as a key necessity for youth in the Mediterranean region. The younger population in the MENA and Balkan regions has not travelled and is not able to travel because of lack of funding, difficulties to obtain visas, tight border control and so on.
In order to promote mobility as a learning tool, platform members provide funding and have developed a large “alumni” of local youth, artists, community and cultural operators, cultural activists that report the stories of their travel and the enriching experience that mobility can be.
The project leader of Istikshaf is the Arab Education Forum in Amman, Jordan and the Roberto Cimetta Fund is co-partner.
Members and observers of this platform include: The Al Balad Theatre, (Jordan), the Studio Emadeddine, (Egypt), the Dramtiska Institutet, (Sweden) I-Act, (Egypt), Art Moves Africa (Morocco), Al Mawred Al Thaqafi (Egypt), The Arab Theatre Training Centre (Lebanon), the Tamasi Performing Arts Network (regional Arab-based platform), King Abdullah II Fund for Development (Jordan), Naseej- Ressources for Community Youth (Jordan), EuroMed Young Artists Network (Egypt).
The Arab League and the Organisation of Arab Towns (Kuwait) have become actively engaged in the work undertaken by this platform.
In 2011, The Arab Education Forum and the Roberto Cimetta Fund organized a Symposium exploring mobility in the Arab World and around the Mediterranean on 1-2 June 2011 in Amman, Jordan. Over two days, 36 participants from 12 countries met to discuss concepts relating to mobility around the Euro-Arab region reflecting personal and collective experience as well as research that had been conducted to explore the various meanings, obstacles and benefits of artistic mobility. The symposium aimed to expand on and develop a renewed understanding of contemporary mobility by bringing together people able to think mobility in its widest sense. The report of the symposium and a booklet published before the meeting are online.
A report on Mapping Mobility Funds in the Mediterranean was commissioned by the Arab Education Forum/Istikshaf Program with the objectif of exploring mobility networks/programs operating within the Arab world or extending the region. This final report is available here.
Another meeting of 25 mobile artists and cultural operators from 10 European and Arab countries who conceive mobility as an integral part of their artistic and cultural work took place in Roubaix (Lille), France, on 24th June 2011. The report is available here.
Members are also actively engaged in building an advocacy campaign for key common issues: difficult visa opportunities and high costs, limited opportunities and participation of women, lack of information on mobility initiatives… During 2012, they met in Alexandria, Amman and Beirut to define and adopt a regional policy agenda for mobility. This agenda describes the priorities and actions to be undertaken on the following challenges: mobilising institutional actors, funding of mobility, free circulation and the repositioning of mobility at the heart of Arab societies. The agenda was officially adopted in Beirut on 20th November 2012 at the Madarat exchange platform anda series of actions were defined that the members will undertake. A further meeting took place recently in Belgrade (September 2013) to promote the agenda to Balkan members.
A book grouping together the contributions by speakers at the Amman conference in 2011 has recently been published (April 2014). It can be downloaded here.
From 15th to 17th March 2014 a conference on mobility and freedom of movement entitled "Advocating for mobility : right on track" was held in Amman, Jordan and grouped together a wide range of activists and cultural operators working in the Arab region.
A petition was launched that has to date received the signatures of over 300 organisations and individuals from some 70 countries worldwide in support of artistic and cultural mobility in the Arab world.
The final aim of the project is to encourage the diffusion of reliable resource information, to structure artistic and cultural projects around key partners and to build long-term multilateral relations.
The partners have obtained the following results since 2010 (Istikshaf phase I from 2010 to 2011, Istikshaf phase II from 2012 to 2014).
The outreach campaign pilot project in Amman continues with the “Jeera” project gaining momentum and the collaboration with Amman municipality strengthened. The Safar mobility fund in Palestine has grown in numbers to reach 3000 members on the facebook page, organizing travels twice a month with 150 participants in each trip, and expanding collaborations and the concept of mobility to different people and organizations.
Several new mobility initiatives (local, regional, and international) have been initiated and synergies are being developed such as connecting with initiatives in the Balkan area; the Asia-Europe Foundation; the We are More Campaign in Europe, and the Anna Lindh Foundation Dawrak initiative. Through the outreach program Istikshaf connected with various advocacy campaigns connected to mobility such as Bikarama and Right to Enter in Palestine and the Tamasi policy advocacy campaign in support of the performing arts in the MENA region.
The book on “exploring mobility” (see annex 1) which is the first book of its kind published in Arabic, English, and French was printed in 500 copies respectively (200 for the French version) and so far more than 300 copies of the Arabic and English (each) and 100 of the French version have been disseminated to different stakeholders in the region and Europe, and promoted through our newsletter.
Six research projects were supported through Istikshaf: (1) Impact of mobility, (2) Visa regulations in five Arab countries, (3) Funding for mobility in 13 Arab countries, (4) Best practices for financing mobility, (5) White paper on mobility, and (6) visa regulations for travel within the 22 Arab countries.
Furthermore, the meeting with Arab municipalities in Doha was an opportunity to promote their support for mobility in diverse ways, and Amman municipality, at the initiative of the AEF, has sent a letter to the Arab Towns Organization proposing the establishment of a committee on culture within the organization to be hosted by the Amman municipality focusing on artistic mobility with the membership of the AEF.
Enhance mobility opportunities for artists and young social entrepreneurs
A total of 105 travel grants were given to artists and social entrepreneurs for the whole duration of the project to travel around the Mediterranean, in particular in the Southern Mediterranean, for learning and cultural exchange.
All 5 main activities focused on the three themes outlined above were also implemented, namely:
1. Develop, enhance, and connect to networks and platforms that bring together various stakeholders concerned with mobility around the Mediterranean, with special focus on consolidating such networks in the South and East of the Mediterranean.
2. Provide travel grants for artists, particularly from the South and East of the Mediterranean, encouraging South-South mobility but also possibilities for travel to other parts of the world seeking learning, creation, and exchange.
3. Research, documentation, evaluation of and reflection on mobility.
4. Community organizing and Alumni mobilization campaign in different countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean to develop support structures for mobility.
5. Develop and enrich the Safar and FRC websites in 3 languages to include the various outputs of this phase as well as provide a web-based platform for local initiatives to interact and grow and be disseminated.
The regional operators are:
- Arab Education Forum, Jordan
- The Arab Theatre Training Centre, Lebanon
- I-Act, Egypt
- Studio Emad Eddin Foundation, Cairo, Egypt
- Al Balad Theatre, Jordan
- Institutet Dramatiska, Sweden
The initiator of the project: The Arab Education Forum
The Arab Education Forum is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization active in the Arab World in the field of community and youth work. The mission of AEF is to contribute to an Arab cultural regeneration project that springs out of the inherent knowledge and experiences within the Arab societies. AEF constantly attempts to develop a shared vision related to learning in the Arab world.
The Arab Education Forum is registered as an NGO in Palestine since August 2005 and a non-profit company in Jordan since 2006 and is governed by an independent board in each country but shares an advisory board from different countries (Rifaq ad Darb).
The Arab Education Forum depends on a number of volunteers as well as international and regional organisations to best utilize available resources.
General Manager: Serene Huleileh
Regional coordinator: Areej Ghazwi
Address: 6 Fares al Khoury Street, Shmeisani, Amman, Jordan
Tel: +962 6 5687557