Funding is very important for the growth of any sector, and that extends to the cultural sector. For experimentation, innovation, and culture to flourish, many institutions in the UAE have provided funding options to support creatives and their ideas, as follows:
* Ministry of Culture and Youth: The Ministry provides annual financial support to a number of non-profit organizations registered under the associations category at the Ministry of Community Development. This commitment stems from the government's belief that a civil society sector must be supported and enabled to contribute to the cultural sector of the UAE. Furthermore, the Ministry launched the COVID 19 Relief Fund for creative freelancers and organizations affected by COVID-19. The program aims to ensure the sustainability of cultural production in the country, cementing the UAE's position as an incubator for creativity, arts and culture. It allows creatives to continue to support the creative sector in various circumstances.
* Al Burda Endowment: Al Burda Endowment is an initiative that seeks to expand the reach of Islamic culture by recognizing creative pioneers who embrace experimentation and reinterpretation in their approach to Islamic art and culture. The inaugural edition granted 50,000 AED each to 10 contemporary artists from the Arab World, Pakistan and Hong Kong, creating artworks that range from sculpture, textile-based work and photography to installation, virtual reality, experiential projects and more.
* Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development: Khalifa Fund is an independent, non-profit socio-economic development entity established in 2007. The fund was established to help develop local enterprises in Abu Dhabi by instilling and enriching the culture of investment and supporting small to medium-sized investments in the Emirate. In 2011 Khalifa Fund extended its program to support the Northern Emirates and in 2015, further extended its support internationally. As of 2020, Khalifa Fund's international portfolio is managing 22 countries in three different continents Africa, Asia and Europe.
* Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) Grants Scheme: ADMAF nurtures artistic, cultural and creative development in the UAE by supporting projects that incorporate UAE traditions, heritage and contemporary expression for current and future generations. Grant-funded projects promote, protect, revitalize and uphold UAE cultural and creative expression and resources, and promote initiatives by and for a wide variety of social groups.
* Dubai Expo: The UAE will host World Expo 2020 in Dubai, 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.
* 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, participatory, and ephemeral. 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 (MEASA). 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 an 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 Design District (D3): During the annual Dubai Design Week, D3 brings focus to emerging Emirati talent. In 2018, a three-part nomadic exhibition series was launched. Ten of the best designers from the UAE were asked to commission three pieces each around specific themes to be exhibited locally and internationally. The first show opened at Milan Design Week, followed by a show at London Design Fair and the final show as part of Dubai Design Week. As a result of the nomadic exhibition series in 2018, two designers were approached for other commissioned work.
* Warehouse 421: Warehouse421 is a home-grown arts and design center dedicated to showcasing and nurturing creative production from across the region. Working in collaboration with local, regional and international entities, Warehouse421 seeks to aid the development of the UAE's creative ecosystem through learning, research and commissions
* StartAD: StartAD is a global accelerator based in Abu Dhabi, steering seed-stage technology startups to launch, develop, and scale their ventures. Anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi and powered by Tamkeen, startAD began its journey in 2016 as a new model for entrepreneurship education and innovation for the region. StartAD supports Abu Dhabi and the UAE's goals of becoming a knowledge-based economy by equipping students, startups, and corporates with the necessary tools to build and innovate new products that serve a global need, collaborate across organizations, and develop entrepreneurial capacity.
* Ghadan 21: Ghadan 21 is a three-year accelerator program based in Abu Dhabi and started in 2019. It invests in initiatives that make business, including for cultural enterprises, easier through flexible licensing, incentive packages, reduced tariffs, partnerships, and de-regulation. The program also develops incubator programs that support infrastructure, healthcare, education, culture, and the environment.
Ministry of Culture and Youth
* In April 2020, the Art and Cultural and Creative Industries Councils launched a survey to study the impact of Covid-19 on the creative community, and this led to the launching of the Creative Relief Fund to support creatives and SMEs in the cultural sector impacted by COVID 19. In the first phase of the program 87 creative individuals and small enterprises operating in the cultural and creative industries received financial grants. The grant, which ranged between AED15,000 to AED50,000 (roughly USD4,100 to USD13,600) were distributed among 50 individuals and 37 companies to help them overcome the financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to supporting freelancers, the second phase of the program aimed to support organizations with up to 20 employees. With the second phase, the National Creative Relief Program was able to provide financial grants between AED15,000 to AED75,000 (roughly USD4,100 to USD20,500) to another 53 freelancers and organizations, bringing the total number of individuals and companies helped throughout both phases of the program to 140.
Alserkal Arts Foundation:
* 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 (MEASA). In 2019, the recipients, Lea Morin (individual), Manar Moursi(individual), and Shahana Rajani and Jeanne Penjan Lassus (collaborative) 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.
Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation Grant Scheme
* ADMAF grants have resulted in an increased number of active arts practitioners among UAE nationals, as well as more arts and culture activities. The grants have also provided students the opportunity to continue their studies abroad, and ensured a greater community involvement in the preservation and development of cultural heritage and contemporary expression along with an increased international recognition of the value of UAE arts and culture.
* In 2019, ADMAF awarded grants to the Ministry of Education's project 'the Beginning of the Story - Theatre Performances for Government School Children,' taking place in all government schools in the UAE, to Fatima Al Hashemi as the first Emirati participant in the First Barouch International Concerto Competition in the Republic of San Remo, and to Abu Dhabi University in support of its fifth Art for Autism competition. During 2019 ADMAF also provided financial assistance to Emirati jewelry designer, Noura Alserkal, as part of the ADMAF Design Fund, in association with Van Cleef and Arpels.
Al Burda Endowment
* The inaugural edition of Al Burda Endowment debuted the work of finalists in Abu Dhabi Art Fair in November 2019 (which is a popular art space in the UAE showcasing a range of local, regional and international art). This enabled the wider community to access the world of Islamic art and pique their interest in Islamic Art. The move to showcase the exhibition in parallel to other exhibitions of a different nature highlighted the importance of integrating Islamic art into the contemporary art world and its adaptability to diverse expressions and interpretations.
* The Endowment artists' work also demonstrated the vast possibilities to reimagine the public and scholarly limitations imposed on Islamic art that is sometimes viewed in a rigid manner, one that sees Islamic art as purely decorative or functional. Their process and final artworks instead reflected fluidity, imagination and critical thought.
Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development
* Khalifa Fund started with a total capital of AED 300 million, which was gradually increased to AED 2 billion and covering all the UAE.
* As of 2020, Khalifa Fund international portfolio is valued at approximately one billion dollars.
* 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.
* Between 2016 and 2019, StartAD generated USD15 million in revenue and raised USD 50 million in funding. Further, it accelerated 118 Startups (68 UAE startups), benefited 6,000 entrepreneurs (48 Emirati entrepreneurs), created 250 jobs and secured 50 pilot projects.
More than 50 initiatives have been launched so far, among them:
o For Abu Dhabi, an AED 8 billion program to enhance public space through the inclusion of city-wide public art projects. So far, there are 300 projects to beautify public spaces, with the first murals already unveiled.
o Ventures Fund, a AED535 million fund to support startups and entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas.
The Ministry of Culture and Youth has already started studying the funding ecosystem for the cultural sector in the UAE and is planning to develop a funding strategy to ensure the availability of various and sustainable funding options for creatives in the UAE