Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 04.07.2008:
Windows Open to the Wind … A Heritage Deeply Rooted
By Khaled El-Ghoul
Out of its belief in the richness of diverse and pluralist cultures, Yabous Productions has maintained a strong presence through networking with other cultures. Yabous firmly acknowledges the creative and deeply needed interchange with the world’s cultures based on diversity, pluralism, equality, and mutual respect. It is keen to maintain cultural exchange as a social interactive process that influences the existing cultural mindsets breaking the barriers of isolation, siege, and segregation and enhancing coexistence among people.
Yabous works tirelessly to enhance intercultural exchange and networking at regional and international levels. According to Ghandi, windows should always be open to the sun and the winds, though these winds will not rip out the roots. Its mandate promotes the uniqueness and free flow of the world’s cultures and the need to maintain the dynamics and special characteristics of those cultures. Every culture is independent and leaves a distinguished mark on history. At the same time, all cultures have their flaws, and when overlooked, these flaws could bring about a culture’s annihilation. As a consequence, the need arose to create a free-flowing and open atmosphere that contributes to the enhancement of global cultural diversity based on the acknowledgment of the identity of the other and its uniqueness and specialness.
For decades, Palestine has been living under a colonial occupation that blindly aims to expunge the national and cultural identity of the Palestinian people. Over the years there have been many attempts to bury the historical and cultural characteristics of Palestinian existence. And, despite these circumstances, the Palestinian people have been determined to highlight their presence by playing a pivotal role in the global cultural arena. The Palestinians relentlessly created ways and means to practice and promote numerous variations on their culture in order to assert their identity.
Yabous places culture as the crown jewel of the Palestinian national project. Through culture, the Palestinians fight a vicious war. According to the late Palestinian thinker Edward Said, this battle is to “reaffirm the power of culture over the culture of power.” Yabous takes part in this struggle by focusing all its efforts on reviving cultural life in Jerusalem. It has shouldered the significant responsibility of helping Jerusalem – the heart of the Palestinian question – regain the cultural glamour it has been longing for.
The varied projects and programmes that Yabous organises expand the space of cultural exchange and interchange. Yabous presents to the Palestinian audience international music from various continents and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experience between Palestinian musicians and others. Yabous is a member of the European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals, Zone Franche, and IMZ. This coming October, Yabous will host, in Palestine, the European Festivals Network Conference.
Yabous has always worked hard to overcome the marginalisation of Palestinian musicians in the global markets. It has a long history of coordinating concerts and performances for Palestinian musicians locally, regionally, and internationally. The Palestine Festival of Literature, which took place last May, was organised by Yabous in cooperation with the British institution “Engaged Events.” It is a prime example of cultural exchange that embodies distinctive interaction and reciprocity among international, Arab, and Palestinian writers and authors.
To deepen coordination and cultural exchange with other Arab cultural institutions, Yabous initiated the Arab Festivals Networking Conference held in the Emirate of Sharjah in 2005. The conference was organised in cooperation with the Department of Information and Culture of the United Arab Emirates. The fruit of this conference was the creation of the Arab Music Festivals Network whose tasks are coordinated by Yabous from its offices in Jerusalem. The network has opened windows of opportunities for Palestinian musicians through participation in a number of festivals in the Arab World.
On the local level, and through the organisation and co-organisation of events, Yabous continues to network with various Palestinian cultural organisations, most notably the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Jerusalem; the Popular Art Centre, the A.M. Qattan Foundation, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, and Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah; Dar A-Nadwa in Bethlehem; A-Najah Univeristy in Nablus; Cultural Centre Cinema (Palestine Red Crescent Society) in Gaza; and the Sana Cinematheque in Nazareth.
Over the years, Yabous has been able to implement its vision and goals through numerous events and projects at various venues. In order to enhance cultural exchange, interaction, and networking, Yabous has begun plans to establish a cultural centre in Jerusalem that is scheduled to open its doors in spring 2009. The centre will serve not only as a tool to break the Israeli military siege of Jerusalem, but also to build bridges with the outside world and respond to the social and cultural needs of the Palestinians people in Jerusalem. It has the potential to become a main, central hub for cultural and artistic interchange, providing a stage for a variety of productions and widening the circle of events to ensure as wide an audience as possible.
Khaled El-Ghoul is the project coordinator at Yabous Productions.
This Week in Palestine