About Gaza program
The Gaza Program
The Gaza Strip is home to 2 million Palestinian and is regarded as one of the world’s most population dense geographic areas with 5,204 persons/km2. Palestinians in Gaza have been living in an open-air prison since 2007 with Israel denying them free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and therefore travel to anywhere else in the world.
Movement restrictions imposed by Israel since the early 1990’s and intensified in June 2007, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, have severely undermined the socio economic and living conditions of Gazans. The isolation of Gaza has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on the Rafah crossing as well as by the internal Palestinian divide. This blockade and related restrictions are against international humanitarian law as they target and impose collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza. Major escalation of hostilities in the past years have resulted in extensive destruction within the Gaza Strip and internal displacement, in addition to furthering the collapse of the economy and worsening the living conditions. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) reported that unemployment is at its highest rate in Gaza reaching 52% in 2018. Fuel shortage restricts power supply within the Gaza Strip allowing for a very restricted power supply schedule that can be at times limited to 4 hours every 24 hours. The best case scenario for power supply in Gaza is the 8hr on/8hr off schedule. Studies also reported that 53% of Gazans live in poverty.
Despite the hardships described above under which the Palestinian citizens of Gaza live, Gazans continue to develop unprecedented resilience. In Gaza, random artists are born out of the womb of suffering. They use art as an outlet for their distress. However, their chances for becoming competitive locally and globally are hindered by:
- The lack of interest in arts in general as the main focus for Gazans is their livelihood and their safety under the continuous threat of war and the ongoing blockade that has limited their employment opportunities and their chances of living in dignity.
- The lack of organizations fully dedicated to the promotion of quality art training and art production in Gaza. Currently there is one university offering a B.A. degree in Art education mostly focusing on the preparation of art teachers for primary schools.
- The societal misconceptions about art and professional training in art related fields as they are seen as the last resort for students who do perform well academically
- Societal misconceptions about art being a luxury and “not a way to put food on the table” . Art is seen as a limited income generating profession and artists are stereotyped to be financially disadvantaged.
- Their inability to travel due to the blockade limiting them from having opportunities for professional training, regional and international exposure and adequate recognition.
- While advances in communication technology has improved Gazans ability to get exposed to global art, this has negatively resulted in a culture of imitation of what is being done abroad rather than creative production.
Purpose of the program and main expected results
The main goal of the program is to empower potential artists in Gaza through professional training and providing opportunities for greater exposure through local and international venues.
The goal will be achieved by offering a venue to support the provision of training in specialized art courses and to establish networks and platforms for Gazan artists to professionally exhibit their production thus increasing their local and international exposure eventually improving the marketability of their products and thus improving their livelihood.
The specific objectives of the project will be:
- Enhancing the skills of potential Gazan artists to improve the quality of their art through specialized training courses
- Improving the livelihood of artists by creating networks and opportunities for exhibiting and marketing their productions locally and internationally.
- Recognizing exceptional artists through local awards