To improve existing policies and create awareness about cultural policies, a project was launched in 2009 to research the state of cultural policies in a number of Arab countries. Following an open call, the regional NGO Culture Resource (al Mawred al Thaqafy) in close cooperation with the European Cultural Foundation selected researchers from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to research their national cultural policies along the following axes: historical background, organisation and infrastructure of all institutions involved, objectives and principles, state of the debate on cultural policies, legal frameworks, financial frameworks, the role of civil society and partnerships, and supporting creativity. A summary of the results was subsequently published in both Arabic (download here) and English, and a regional conference on cultural policies in the Arab World held in Beirut in June 2010.
One recommendation of this conference was to set up an Arab group for cultural policies, consisting of representatives of participating countries who in turn would set up national groups for cultural policies in their countries, to advance research and the debate on cultural policies. A second meeting was held in Amman in April 2011, at which the notion was reinforced that cultural work in the region suffered from similar problems, including lack of cooperation between state institutions and the independent sector, a legislation that gave little room to artists and intellectuals, as well as financial restrictions. The change the region was going through was seen as providing an opportunity to examine the organisation and development of cultural work based on a well-grounded understanding of the present situation and a long-term vision, and to make recommendations for new or reformed infrastructures.
The initial research on cultural policies in Lebanon in 2009 was undertaken by Watfa Hamadi and Rita Azar, and is available on al Mawred al Thaqafy’s website (in Arabic, download here). It was updated in 2014 by Mona Merhi (download here).