Sharjah youngsters get to the art of the matter

The organisers of a new arts programme for children are hoping it could help Sharjah produce the next Steven Spielberg or Annie Leibovitz.

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The organisers of a new arts programme for children are hoping it could help Sharjah produce the next Steven Spielberg or Annie Leibovitz.

Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children will display work by 70 students from 13 schools and 16 children's centres in the emirate at its first Funn Media Arts Exhibition next week.

The youngsters, between the ages of eight and 18, produced the pieces in the past year during workshops on photography, animation, graphic design, filmmaking and digital art.

"In order for future generations to have a medium of communication that they're comfortable with, that the world is operating within, we need to keep up with them," said Erum Mazher Alvie, Funn's adviser. "We must provide them with cutting-edge techniques and facilities that are available in the rest of the world, whether it's in art, science or the social sector."

Since it was launched last year, Funn has organised media arts workshops for 140 students, including almost 100 Emiratis.

"Until a few years ago, it was extremely rare or impossible to find an Emirati filmmaker, graphic designer, photographer or digital artist," said Ms Alvie. "That is no longer the case."

The 10-day exhibition, which starts next Tuesday, will include sections on photography, digital collage and graphic design, together with a screening area for films and animation created by children during the workshops.

"The trainers provided cutting-edge techniques and expertise to the children," said Ms Alvie. "For instance, the students were good in fine art but they wanted to know how to do it digitally.

"Their work amazed us as they were able to translate their thought process into film, documentary or animation."

The aim of the programme is to introduce children to the world of media art and for them to take part in contests, exhibitions and festivals in the UAE and globally.

"We wanted to gauge the level of commitment and talent that is available in Sharjah," added Ms Alvie. "We need to add value."

Its target is to reach a further 20 schools next year, mostly public.

"We're here to make dreams come true," said Jawaher Abdulla Al Qassimi, Funn's assistant manager. "Media art isn't what it used to be years ago - everyone is into technology now and it's becoming more important every day."

Next year, Funn will target children outside Sharjah city. "We want to source more children from the eastern region of Sharjah and go to smaller towns," said Ms Alvie. "We will also have festivals, seminars and conferences based on media art. It is the language of the future and if we don't speak this language, we will not be able to communicate with our children."