In the summer of 2003 a small group of Arab cultural activists and artists , at the invitation of Basma El Husseiny, to discuss the idea of establishing a non-governmental and non-profit Arab cultural organization. Among the participants of this initial meeting were Adila Laïdi , Aliaa El Greedy, Hanane Haj Ali, Jack Breskian, Khaled Jubran, Samy Hossam and Tarek Abou Al Fettouh.
It was initially suggested that this new organization would secure funds for larger cultural initiatives in the region. The majority, however, saw a stronger need to support smaller projects by young artists, to stimulate dialogue between intellectuals and artists and encourage mutual support, and to showcase artistic experiences in the Arab world to a wider audience. The founders later agreed that this new organization would offer various programs open to all genres,that met the needs of independent and professional artists and intellectuals working without official support and outside of the commercial mainstream, giving priority to young artists and writers. The founders also agreed on the need to establish an independent fund for arts and culture in the Arab world, to raise funds inside and outside the Arab world to finance important cultural initiatives within the region.
Culture Resource was founded at the end of 2003, and was registered as a non-profit organization in Belgium that operates throughout the Arab region, The first program was launched in April 2004 with the cultural festival Awwal Rabie, The First Spring, that became the biannual Spring festival that takes place in Cairo and Beirut. Culture Resource’s first program to support young Arab artists and writers was the Production Awards program, later followed by the youth platforms (Remix – Safha Jadida – Start of the Game), creative workshops that mix training and developing artistic and literary projects. Culture Resource succeeded in giving support to a significant number of young artists and writers, but at the same time experienced a campaign of harassment by the Egyptian security apparatus, which included the cancellation of the Safha Jadida workshop and a falsified lawsuit for breach of planning codes against the director of the organization in 2004, and the closure of El Genaina Theatre for 5 months in 2006.
In spite of this, Culture Resource also had notable successes at this time, such as the establishment of the Arab fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) in 2006, with the support of The Open Society Institute. AFAC is now one of the most important sources of funding for cultural projects in the Arab world and an independent organization not administratively or financially related to Culture Resource. In the years since, Culture Resource has also succeeded in launching new programs, most importantly capacity building for young Arab cultural managers through the Cultural Management Training program of workshops and publications, the Mawa3eed travel and tour support program to promote cultural and artistic exchange within the Arab region, and the Cultural Policy Research program tomonitor and develop cultural policy in the Arab region, as well as reinforcing the role of the El Geneina theater as an open window through which Egyptian audiences witness the artistic creations of Arab and international artists, through its regular presenting season as well as special events such as the 7ayy festival in Ramadan. Most recent addition to the programs in 2010 include the Darb Al Ahmar arts school, a project for educating the children of Cairo’s Darb Al Ahmar district in percussion, brass, and circus arts, and the Maraheb program to support Arab artists in participating in artistic residency programs.
For seven years, Culture Resource has been led by a dynamic staff with diverse experiences and backgrounds, a general assembly of the most important Arab cultural leaders, and an artistic board that actively participates in the decision making that contributed to its growth and success with the support of the funding organizations. The outcome of these seven years is over 600 artists, writers and cultural managers who have received either financial support or training through the organization, a diverse audience numbering thousands that has experienced concerts, performances and lectures, as well as expanded networks of connections between Arab artists that has grown through the organization and its activities, and serving as a positive model of a credible and transparent independent organization.
However, the more important outcome is the possibilities that have been provided by Culture Resource to all artists and writers and to the societies to which they belong. These possibilities cannot be counted, and their effects can only be measured in the long term.