Dubai Culture will give grants to around 20 UAE-based creatives via Art Jameel initiative

The grants will range from $1,000 to $3,000

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai inaugurated Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai’s first contemporary arts museum. The Centre is located at Jaddaf Waterfront, one of Dubai Holding’s iconic mixed-use destinations, located along the banks of the Dubai Creek. Dubai Media Office / Wam
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Earlier this month, Art Jameel launched a Dh550,000 grant programme called the Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform to provide micro-funds to artists, writers and curators in the Mena region.

The initiative from the Saudi Arabian foundation, which runs Jameel Art Centre in Dubai, was created for practitioners whose projects have been affected by the cancellation of art exhibitions, art fairs and cultural events amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It's affirming to see such incredible diversity and quality of projects being produced by individual artists, curators, writers and others, often against all the odds

Now, Dubai Culture has announced its support of the platform through a UAE version, aimed at artists, creatives and collectives (of up to five people) living and working in the Emirates. Awarded applicants will receive micro-grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 (Dh3,600 to Dh11,000) to help them start or continue work. Up to 20 practitioners will be supported, depending on the submissions.

Globally and regionally, the arts and culture industry continues to be vulnerable in the wake of the pandemic. Dubai Culture’s collaboration with Art Jameel marks the first government-associated grant in the UAE specifically targeted towards artists and cultural practitioners during the Covid-19 crisis.

Applications for the grant can be made by filling out an online form, in English or Arabic, and will be accepted until Wednesday, May 13. An independent jury will consider both the originality of the submission, but also the impact closures and cancellations have had on the applicants.

In a statement, Dubai Culture director general Hala Badri said, “with this support, we intend to broaden the scope of grants given to the entire creative landscape in the UAE, including small-scale organisations, freelancers and independent artists.”

The Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform will continue to accept applications alongside the UAE initiative, with one of its three cycles of funding recently closed.

160 applications from 17 countries, including Algeria and Yemen

According to Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, the first round – which was open for a week – received 160 applications from 17 countries, including Morocco, Algeria and Yemen, which she says are "underrepresented in typical arts programming".

So far, 20 applicants have been awarded and 30 shortlisted candidates will be included the second cycle for further consideration.

"The response brings on a mix of emotions – it's affirming to see such incredible diversity and quality of projects being produced by individual artists, curators, writers and others, often against all the odds," she tells The National, noting that the selection process has been highly competitive.

“We hope [that] by working together with other organisations and patrons, we might be able to increase the capacity: every bit counts at this time,” she adds.

Carver highlighted that Dubai Culture’s contribution to the platform will help artists from around the region, too: “not only does it mean increased and broader support for the UAE creative scene, but it also means that Art Jameel is able to allocate funds originally earmarked for UAE artists towards practitioners in other regional countries, some of whom are suffering from deep economic woes and the scars of war, as well as Covid-19.”

Deadlines for Art Jameel’s next two cycles are on Thursday, April 30 and Sunday, June 7.

More information on the UAE version of the platform is available at Art Jameel website