Performing arts in Saudi Arabia take center stage in new development strategy

Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission aims to ‘create inspiring performances with exceptional talents on every stage’

  
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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RIYADH: The Theater and Performing Arts Commission has finalized its strategy for the development of the sector in Saudi Arabia, in line with the framework established by the National Strategy for Culture.

It was formulated after an in-depth analysis of the state of the theater and performing arts in the Kingdom. The commission also carried out international benchmarking comparisons and drew on a number of knowledge sources, including more than 50 documents, more than 20 interviews with stakeholders and local and international experts, and opinion polls covering various segments of Saudi society.

The studies identified the challenges facing the development of theater and the performing arts in the Kingdom, mainly relating to: limited talent-development programs; a lack of basic infrastructure; poor funding; the low-tier technologies available for use in performances; a lack of advanced governance to help achieve higher community participation; insufficient audience-engagement measurement tools; and a lack of licenses for sector-related activities and professions.

The strategy defines the scope of the sector, which takes in all forms of performing arts including theater, dance, circus shows, stand-up comedy, street performances, motion performances, and opera. It also encompasses venues, content, production, and the prevalence of the culture of performing arts in the Kingdom.

The aim of the commission’s vision is to “create inspiring performances with exceptional talents on every stage.”

Its mission is “to develop and promote the theater and performing arts sector by empowering Saudi talents to build successful careers and create inspiring content.”

The commission has set five strategic objectives: to enhance the quantity and diversity of content; increase and diversify local production; ensure access to the theater and performing arts sector; raise the level of appreciation among the public and practitioners; and generate audience demand.

To achieve these objectives, the commission has designed initiatives under several guiding principles that aim to address the main challenges, create an effective theater space for Saudi talent, ensure the transformation of the sector into a productive industry that contributes to economic growth, promote culture as a way of life, and enhance levels of professionalism and creativity.

The commission will implement 26 initiatives in stages between now and 2030 to serve and develop the sector. They fall under six guiding principles:

Talent development, which includes eight initiatives: education, training and talent-discovery; school theater; house of Ardha and house of Samri; cultural business incubator; theater academy; career development initiative; sector graduate recruitment; and sector awards.

Sector infrastructure development includes three initiatives: upgrading and activating infrastructure; national theater; and the Riyadh theater district.

The funding principle also has three initiatives: supporting local production; supporting processes of holding and hosting shows; and financing events and content.

Modern technology encompasses two initiatives: an innovation-support program; and multi-screen initiative.

The audience principle includes seven initiatives: subsidizing ticket prices; measuring audience satisfaction; developing theater criticism; raising awareness of local sector works; international awareness; stimulating community participation; launching programs for tourists; and international communication.

The governance initiatives are: activating the commission; activating civil society institutions; working with associations; and facilitating licensing procedures.”

The Theater and Performing Arts Commission will use its strategy to develop the entire performing arts sector. It aims to serve the needs of artists, investors and practitioners, especially through the provision of educational and training courses, with the target of producing about 4,500 graduate performers, about 4,200 qualified trainees, and discovering emerging talents in the field.

The efforts are in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plans to develop the cultural sector, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the nation’s economic growth.

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