Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cultural Promotion in Kuwait..?!

A detail from a painting by the Kuwaiti artist Ghadah Al Kandari...

Are there any formal/ governmental institutions in Kuwait promoting Kuwaiti culture? This query was at least partly triggered by a short snippet of a piece in one of the local English newspapers which informed us that Kuwait University was planning to sponsor Cultural Attaches at select embassies, and the somewhat seemingly unspecified role such an attache might need to fulfil (click here for a related article). It seems like here the role of a cultural attache is 'merely' to act as a liaison between Kuwait and its students abroad, a role which in itself is a worthy one, but not one necessarily affiliated with the term 'cultural attache' (click here for for the link to the Kuwait Cultural Office). Are there any governmental, or government sponsored, organizations promoting and fulfilling the role of Kuwaiti 'soft power' abroad? This practice, which aims to heighten the awareness and improve the impression of the home country through an act of 'gentle persuasion' - a more diplomatic, subtle, and benign form of conviction - has an extended history in countries such as Germany, and the Scandinavian countries, and a method of diplomacy more recently also applied by countries such as China. This practice, which usually entails promoting different cultural activities relating to the various arts, such as fine arts, design, architecture, literature, music, theatre, etcetera, as well as language and education, in a host country. It is something that Kuwait is in dire need of if it wishes to be known for more than just its oil. The British Council, the Goethe Institute, Confucius Institute, Finnish Institute, to mention a few, are all examples of related endeavours. There are, of course, organizations such as the Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah, but this is a privately set up and funded organization which functions, to my knowledge, without any governmental support.

For a nation that prides itself on its heritage and unique character it wouldn't do much harm to begin defining, developing and promoting such pursuits, and what the term 'culture' (be it in a historical or contemporary context) actually means, both in and outside Kuwait. For, and I sincerely believe this, it is only through different cultural activities - the exploration and testing of various ideas through various mediums - that this nation can capture and begin defining itself a role and identity that reverberates both within and beyond its sandy borders...

8 comments:

Kuwait Motors said...

Every one has to take care of their countries culture

Budour said...

Correction: DAI is actually sponsored and is under the organizatioin of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letter, i.e. the government!

The National Council is the only cultural governmental institution here in Kuwait.

Thomas said...

Thanks Budour, good to know...

What is the remit if the National Council for Culture..? What types of activities/ arts does it support/ sponsor, and how does it do it (stipends, workshops, schooling & training grants, etc.)..?

Budour said...

theatre, fine arts, literature, etc. They hold exhibitions and have several yearly cultural festivals, which always include workshops. How they do it exactly I'm not sure and I'm not sure they are doing a great job either!

Thomas said...

Yes, I tried to Google them, but not much was revealed... They don't seem to have a web-presence, which is a bit bizarre considering their (apparent) position/ role...

It would be interesting to find out what they do/ or have planned to advance, rather than just promote existing, cultural pursuits in Kuwait...

Budour said...

They actually do but it's in Arabic

http://www.kuwaitculture.org/

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