For experimentation, innovation, and culture to flourish, many institutions in the UAE have provided funding options to support creatives and their ideas. These funding options are open to artists residing in the country, region and the world. Below are a few (non-exhaustive) examples:
* Alserkal Arts Foundation: Based in Dubai, the Alserkal Arts Foundation supports socially engaged, multi-disciplinary practices and facilitates cross-cultural exchange through its four core initiatives: public art commissions, residencies, research grants, and educational programs. The Foundation provides public art commissions to critically and creatively investigate themes pertinent to the region's arts community, and support practitioners whose projects are collaborative and participatory. Moreover, the Foundation's research grants are designed to support radical, innovative, and contemporary research that challenges traditional modes of practice in a variety of fields. The grants place an emphasis on interdisciplinary proposals, comparative studies, and societal discourses that link the arts, humanities, and social sciences in the context of Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The grant seeks applications especially from those individuals and collectives that dynamically aim to disrupt conservative boundaries between conventional disciplines. Potential grant awardees can include, but not limited to, multidisciplinary visual and sonic artists, architects, writers of fiction and non-fiction, independent publishers, documentary filmmakers and educators, geographers, historians, economists and social scientists.
* Art Jameel: Art Jameel has a longstanding interest in commissioning artists to make new works, often for the public realm, as well as in media or situations that further their ongoing artistic practice. In 2017, Art Jameel launched a commissioning program planned to run in a 3-year cycle, focusing on Sculpture (2018); Arts Writing and Research (2019); and Drawing and Painting (2020). With 2020 proving to be a year of exceptional circumstance, the program has been adjusted and expanded to become Art Jameel Commissions: Digital (The drawing and painting commission will move to 2021-2022).
* Dubai Expo: The UAE will host World Expo in Dubai in 2021, bringing together the world's countries to share their achievements, innovations, inventions, and culture. Over 190 countries will come to the UAE and build interactive pavilions inspired by their cultures, to share and showcase their achievements and identity. The subthemes of Expo2020 are opportunity, mobility and sustainability, each theme with a dedicated pavilion that serves as one of the key pillars of Expo2020. The Arts and Culture Program at Expo2020 will include permanent art installations commissioned to leading, visionary artists from around the world, set along an art trail within the Expo 2020 site.
Below are some results of funding opportunities in the UAE to artists in the country and around the world:
* Alserkal Arts Foundation has awarded its inaugural research grants to practitioners breaking new ground in their innovative approaches to transnational film histories, architecture and urbanism, and indigenous knowledge and local ecologies in the context of Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The recipients, Lea Morin, Manar Moursi, and Shahana Rajani and Jeanne Penjan Lassus were shortlisted from over 200 applications. Awarded for a two-year period, with support of up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for collaborative projects, the grants are designed to challenge established research methods and modes of practice. Supporting knowledge production and critical exchange that disrupt and expand the boundaries between disciplines, the grants place an emphasis on alternative frameworks that link the arts, humanities, and social sciences.
* Art Jameel: The Art Jameel Commissions: Digital was open to artists from or based in the Middle East, North Africa and those around the world (regardless of nationality) who have sustained and demonstrable links to, and a meaningful understanding of, the wider 'Middle East region'. For the 2020 cycle, the commission was awarded to a Beirut based artist, Nadim Choufi. For the 2019 cycle, Art Jameel announced that Nadia Christidi, a Syrian, Palestinian, and Greek researcher, writer, and arts practitioner based between Cambridge, MA and Beirut, Lebanon was awarded Art Jameel Commissions: Arts Writing and Research. The 2017 cycle garnered diverse applications from over 57 countries, with the Art Jameel Commissions: Sculpture awarded to Kuwait-based artists Alia Farid and Aseel AlYaqoub.
There are many funding and commissioning opportunities for artists and creatives in the UAE. Having said that, the Ministry of Culture and Youth has started studying the funding ecosystem in the UAE to be able to ensure that funding is wholistic and sustainable for the cultural sector.