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Abu Dhabi Art launches an initiative to support growing Emirati Arts Scene

September 10, 2021
6 min read
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Abu Dhabi Art just announced the formation of Friends of Abu Dhabi Art – an initiative created to facilitate new models of public cultural philanthropy and help support the dynamic art eco-system in the UAE through Abu Dhabi Art. Launching with an inaugural group of more than 40 dedicated art enthusiasts, Friends of Abu Dhabi Art will this year support Abu Dhabi Art’s Beyond: Emerging Artists, curated by guest curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, Founders of Art Reoriented, a multidisciplinary curatorial platform.

Dyala Nusseibeh, Director, Abu Dhabi Art, said: “We are hugely grateful to our Friends of Abu Dhabi Art members, who will play an integral role in supporting emerging artists from the UAE this year and engaging the wider public with their work. As a group of cultural philanthropists brought together by a shared desire to support art in the Emirates, Friends of Abu Dhabi Art will strengthen and enhance our existing Beyond: Emerging Artists programme this year in exciting new ways.”

Anyone looking to actively support artists and the art ecosystem in the UAE can apply to join the initiative via the webpage as well. All members are required to pay an annual fee for membership, with funds raised enabling the commissioning of new art works through Abu Dhabi Art. Keystone members will act as an advisory group for Friends of Abu Dhabi Art, overseen by co-heads, Nadine Maalouf, Co-Founder of 81 Designs and Nadia Sehweil, CEO of Bodytree Wellness.

Commenting on the newly formed initiative, Nadine Maalouf, Co-Head of Friends of Abu Dhabi Artand Co-Founder of 81 Designs, said: “Friends of Abu Dhabi Art members are ready to support the UAE art ecosystem through this new platform and to play a part in enabling emerging artists from the UAE to develop their work and reach new audiences. We have all joined because of a commitment to supporting art in the UAE and we look forward to ensuring the wider community is engaged and connected to the thriving local art scene. Having attended a curatorial talk by Sam Bardaouil earlier this month I was impressed by their work and left excited to see what new conversations come out of their contribution this year.”

Nadia Sehweil, Co-Head of Friends of Abu Dhabi Art and CEO of Bodytree Wellness added: “Friends of Abu Dhabi Art is not limited to financial support. It is an endeavor to encourage independent activity by community members for the benefit of the local art ecosystem. There is a need for the art and culture sector globally to find sustainable ways to recover and become more adaptable in a post-pandemic era. Friends of Abu Dhabi Art will play a significant role in strengthening Abu Dhabi Art’s programming, as well as provide a platform for funding, knowledge exchange, and networking initiatives for the different players in the sector through Abu Dhabi Art.”

Benefits for membership include opportunities to attend private talks by appointed curators and artists, as well as artist studio visits and events, private tours at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair in November and the commissioning of new work in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Art announced earlier this month that Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath will commission three new works by emerging UAE-based artists; Hashel Al Lamki, Maitha Abdalla and Christopher Benton, for Beyond: Emerging Artists, which will be showcased at the fair in November. The annual Abu Dhabi Art programme has been chosen as the first initiative to be supported by Friends of Abu Dhabi Artthis year, signposting future engagement with both emerging and established artists in the UAE in future.

The fair’s upcoming edition will open to the public at Manarat Al Saadiyat from Wednesday 17 November to Sunday 21 November 2021.

Strict precautionary and hygiene measures will be enforced at Abu Dhabi Art 2021 to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all participants and visitors. Details of these measures will be announced in due course.

For more information on Abu Dhabi Art 2021 and its year-round programmes, visit abudhabiart.ae and follow Abu Dhabi Art on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Abu Dhabi Art expands beyond the notion of a traditional art fair, in placing strong emphasis on a diverse public engagement programme, including art installations and exhibitions, talks and events that take place in different locations throughout the year. The culmination of this year-long programme is the Abu Dhabi Art event in November, which provides an important sales platform for participating galleries whilst also offering these galleries an opportunity to showcase ambitious installations and site-specific works by their artists to a wide audience.

Beyond: Emerging Artists is an annual initiative that launched in 2017. The programme provides three emerging artists in the UAE with a platform from which to develop their practice and realise ambitious art projects. The selected artists are chosen by a guest curator each year. They undertake a year-long programme of workshops and studio visits initiated by the guest curator which leads toward the realisation of a project for the Abu Dhabi Art fair in November. The works remain on exhibition to the public for several months beyond the fair dates.

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