The Arab Arts Focus (AAF) was born from the belief that arts and culture act as a vehicle for positive social impact. Since its inception in 2014, the AAF has sought to shed light on cultural production from the Arab world, a region brimming with talent and promise. We aim to support the Arab contemporary arts scene, amplify diverse voices from the region, and highlight the multiplicity of “Arabness”. An “Arabness” which defies definition, and is in constant flux both within and without the region’s geographic borders.
The AAF operates on three main tiers. Firstly, organising and producing Arab performing arts showcases. This involves creating space in events such as the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) in Cairo, which has featured AAF performances in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2022, and has hosted programmers from all over the world. Internationally, the AAF has showcased performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017, and at the Festival d’Avignon OFF in 2018. Most recently in 2021, the AAF put on a showcase in several venues in Vitry-sur-Seine, France, in collaboration with Théâtre Jean Vilar, reaching new and substantial audiences, and opening up avenues for discussion and exchange.
The second tier of operations is producing works for established Arab artists around the world in collaboration with international festivals and theatres. AAF has co-produced 10 shows from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Morocco. Their themes are varied, ranging from love, family, and refuge, to political upheaval and the commodification of art and labour.
To complement this cycle of production and necessary representation, the AAF’s final tier involves promoting and distributing a catalogue of performances by remarkable Arab artists. We have participated in several editions of CINARS in Montreal, the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) in New York. With this catalogue, we hope to create a link between Arab artists and programmers in order to build bridges, incite dialogue, and affect change.
The AAF is an exceptional opportunity to celebrate the region, and to join the AAF’s artists in contemplating, challenging, and reconciling with today’s world.