In March 2019, Saudi Arabia formally launched its first Ministry of Culture (MoC), a turning point in the nation’s history. The goal? To establish a flourishing arts scene whilst contributing to an international exchange of ideas. Since then, the MoC has unveiled an impressive vision of annual projects, initiatives, scholarships, programmes and residencies that actively sponsor the fields of science, literature and culture, attempting to rebuild and change perspectives on a nation whose economy is defined by oil reserves.
One of the first projects initiated by this programme is an open call for writers, artists and curators. Art Residency Al-Balad is a six-week long residency programme in Jeddah’s Historical District – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This pilot programme launches as a test bed for four other residencies across 2020. Over the course of the year, 42 artists – both Saudi and international – will develop new creative projects and be part of a wider cultural exchange in the centre of the city. The programme has been built with collaboration in mind, offering a supportive working environment based around new dialogues and ideas.
The first seven residents will comprise five artists, one writer and one curator. The programme will be operated by Athr Gallery. Residents will work out of Rubat Al Khuniji – a 200-year-old guesthouse that was recently renovated to host cultural events in the heart of Al-Balad.
Applications for the pilot programme can now be submitted through the MoC website. For more information, click here.
1. Rubat Al Khuniji, Courtesy of the MoC.