Director, Art Jameel
It seems there is a lot of energy coming out of Jeddah and the wider Saudi arts scene at the moment, how is Art Jameel part of that?
Yes, while the Saudi arts scene has deep roots, and organisations there have been creating and maintaining the scene for years, we’re witnessing a particular moment right now -- one that is wholly encouraged by the government yet is being driven by the artists and grassroots. Art Jameel has a track record in Jeddah, one that is typically collaborative: we work with Jeddah Municipality on the Jeddah Sculpture Museum, and the Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Jeddah’s Old Town is not only a thriving institution for artisanship but is fast-becoming a centre for debate around architectural heritage and thinking.
We’ve just announced Hayy: Creative Hub, a major new community complex for the arts in the broadest sense; opening in 2019, Hayy will feature art and design exhibitions, theatre, cinema, artists’ studios, courses and mentorship, and the best coffee in town. We look forward to welcoming not only the Jeddawi arts community but also visitors from across the GCC and beyond.
How will the Jameel Arts Centre enhance cultural and artistic growth in the UAE?
The Jameel Arts Centre, opening later this year, is a contemporary visual arts institution that foregrounds exhibition-making and research (in part via its open-access arts-focussed library and resource centre). We’ve pooled our knowledge of what already exists in the UAE and aim to add something new; the Jameel Arts Centre features a dynamic, rolling programme of curated exhibitions and initiatives, some featuring works from our collection, others developed in collaboration with other institutions, and always as much devoted to learning as viewing. The Centre sits right on the Creek, and in a way, that body of water is our inspiration: we’re looking to develop programmes that riff on the global nature of the UAE and its complex history of trade and exchange, and that reach out to the community at large.
Hayy: Creative Hub focusses on creating a neighbourhood for the arts in Jeddah. Is that the missing component to the city?
In a word, yes! No doubt most cities aim to nurture artistic neighbourhoods – and in Hayy, we’re imagining a ‘hayy’ that brings together creatives with the enthusiastic audiences that appreciate them. There couldn’t be a better time for this in Jeddah – this cosmopolitan city has long nurtured both artists and their supporters, and there seems to be a great thirst, particularly from young people, for a cultural ‘home from home’, a place that nurtures not only the arts but also the nature of exchange itself – between playwrights and artists, comedy stars and filmmakers, curators and writers, and among audiences themselves