In recognition of his outstanding contribution to Arab culture, Kassem Istanbouli – actor, director and founder of the Tiro Association for Arts (TAA) – was awarded the UNESCO 2023 Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture and Arts on 26 June.
From closed cinemas to cultural hotspots
With this prize, UNESCO recognises Kassem’s extraordinary contribution to promoting the arts and Arab culture, and for supporting local communities. Supported by the DOEN Foundation, TAA is reopening Lebanon’s closed cinemas and turning them into independent cultural hotspots for young people. Festivals and workshops are organised at these venues, presenting films and theatre productions.
Geerte Wachter, DOEN Foundation programme manager: “It’s fantastic that UNESCO has recognised TAA’s important work in this way. And it is very well-deserved. DOEN supports TAA for being committed to creating cultural sanctuaries despite the incredibly difficult contextual backdrop. Places where young people and artists from the North and South of Lebanon join forces to work on productions and festivals. TAA offers these young people hope, mutual understanding and an alternative perspective on their existence.”
UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture
Established in 1998, the UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture rewards two laureates each year – individuals, groups or institutions – who, through their work and outstanding achievements, endeavour to disseminate greater knowledge of Arab art and culture. Candidates for this award must have made a significant contribution to the development, dissemination and promotion of Arab culture around the world.