After the inauguration of Hammana Artist House, HAH, in August 2017, Lebanon adds a new landmark on the cultural map of the world. Sparking the enthusiasm among the wide community of artists in the region and beyond, the house draws the attention of international entities including foreign governments and institutions. As a gesture of support and mutual interest, the French Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen visits Hammana Artist House on the 4th of November 2017, and reiterates France’s unwavering support to Lebanon’s cultural scene.

Introduced in a previous article, HAH is a cultural house set in the Lebanese village, Hammana, as a space for world artists to meet, collaborate, create and perform art. It has been established as a partnership between Dr. Robert Eid and Collectif Kahraba. Both founders have the vision of reviving the rural scene in Lebanon by decentralizing art from the capital towards villages and offering exposure for regional artists to express their ideas and perform their art through such space that is not otherwise available across the region. As this initiative has already attracted a wide support and interest on local, regional and international levels, the French minister’s recent visit further highlights the significance of such endeavors for Lebanon and the region.

The French minister was accompanied by ambassador of France in Lebanon Bruno Foucher, Senator Catherine Morin Desailly and MP Loïc Kervran. This visit is part of Nyssen’s presence in Lebanon for the inauguration of the 2017 edition of “Salon du Livre Francophone de Beyrouth” that aims to support cultural activities and reinforce projects of mutual interest in Lebanon. In regard to the book fair, Nyssen comments that “this exhibition represents France’s openness to the world and highlights the mutual friendship with Lebanon and francophone countries”. She adds that Francophonia offers the opportunity to build a bridge between generations and cultures allowing the exchange of knowledge ideas and projects, which empowers us in the face of international challenges.

Concerning the visit to HAH, the French delegation was hosted in Hammana by the president of the union of municipalities of High Metn, Marwan Salha, the president of the municipality of Hammana Bashir Farhat, as well as the founder of Hammana Artist House Dr. Robert Eid and the members of Collectif Kahraba, founding member and director of the house. Describing the house as a “wonderful space”, Nyssen stresses the support of France to HAH explaining: “The values of this incredible house – generosity, solidarity and sharing – are fundamental for the development of artistic practices. It’s thanks to these same values that we can move forward and survive the cruelty and violence of the world.” Nyssen also announces the renewal of France’s invaluable contribution to the sustainable and successful execution of Hammana Artist House’s residency program for artists in exile AMARRE.

On his part, Dr. Robert Eid underlines “the ambition of this house to inspire similar initiatives within Lebanon and beyond, initiatives capable of reviving cultural life outside capitals”, while members of Collectif Kahraba present the various activities of the house and the partnerships being put into place to sustain their artistic vision, and notably “the indispensable partnership with diverse audiences”. Leaving the house “full of emotion”, Nyssen expresses her intention to closely follow Hammana Artist House and the projects emerging from the residencies and created “under Hammana’s influence” in particular. She concludes: “Thank you for all the work that you are doing. Keep going. We are here, firmly by your side”.

The influence and significance of HAH is spreading widely among artist and non-artist communities as the cultural weight of such initiatives is celebrated and highly needed in today’s world. The house is committed to its vision of connecting artists and offering them the necessary space for creation and expression; thus, their message speaks to world artists in need of such a space and to contributors who believe in this mission and the power of art to connect people all over the world.

About the residency program AMARRE

Amarre, in French, means mooring line: rope, cable or chain by which a boat is attached to the shore or to an anchor. AMARRE aims to connect forcibly displaced artists (or artists in exile) to their host communities. It is a residency program that provides a safe working space for the selected artists to develop their projects and share them with the local audience, as well as connect them to the professional networks in their new environments. Each local partner will host and accompany the selected artists in exile in the respective countries with the perspective of supporting a culture of openness, free expression and living together. For its pilot edition, AMARRE takes place in four different countries and in partnership with four structures: in Lebanon, Turkey, Belgium and France, notably in partnership with Atelier des Artistes en Exil in Paris, recently visited by Nyssen.