How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted cultural institutions in the UAE and around the world?
What does the future hold for book fairs, music concerts, art galleries and museums?
An online symposium marathon being held later this week will explore these issues, serving as a platform for art professionals around the world to explore ways in which they can emerge from the crisis as a global community.
The symposium, organised by the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will start at 10am on Thursday, April 16, and will take place across 12 countries, running for 24 hours.
"The pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainties for cultural institutions in the UAE and around the world," Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh tells The National ahead of the event. "But there is also an opportunity for unity here as we work together to face these challenges.
"We are all going through the same experience right now, but there is a chance here for us to work together, to emerge from the crisis stronger and more unified.”
UAE ambassadors from a number of countries – including the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, India, Singapore, China and Australia – will meet with artists, museum directors and art specialists to discuss the challenges that cultural institutions face as a result of Covid-19, while proposing various solutions and insights.
The symposium's first session will stream from the UAE mission in Singapore under the theme "Reimagining our cities as cultural hubs". The symposium will then move around a number of countries in Asia, Europe and America before wrapping in Australia with a talk entitled "Far away, but in the middle of everything".
Each session will run for approximately 45 minutes. The symposium is open to the public and can be streamed via the ministry's website.
Nusseibeh says the symposium is in part a bid to offer support to the UAE’s art community. By opening a dialogue with cultural institutions around the world, local art professionals can glean some insights into what steps are being taken to adapt in a post-Covid world.
“The symposium marathon will cover a dozen countries, from Asia to Europe to America and Australia. Each ambassador will be meeting an art professional from the country he or she represents.
"The idea is to get each country’s unique perspective. By the time the symposium wraps up, we’ll have a global perspective on how to overcome the challenges set by Covid-19 and how it will impact the future of cultural institutions.”
According to Nusseibeh, Thursday’s symposium will mark the first of many virtual seminars and talks to come. The ministry is partnering with cultural institutions in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi for a number of digital events.
“Like many institutions locally and internationally, the ministry is moving its programmes into the digital world,” he says. “The idea is to continue our cultural mission despite the constraints put forth by the pandemic.”
For more information on the symposium’s programming, visit www.mofaic.gov.ae