International Cultural Relations Advisory:
Background: As a member of the British Council staff, Alma was one of 15 selected directors from 110 countries to receive extensive international cultural relations training at the British Council headquarters in Spring Gardens, London. This further enriched her 22 years of expertise working with international cultural institutions, such as the French Institute of the Levant and the European Commission, where she had the opportunity to travel and work across all countries in the Arab region and be present in the uprising squares during Arab spring. She was also able to visit major European cities and live in exciting cultural hub cities like Damascus, Beirut and Montreal. This gave her an insight about current cultural trends, challenges and the necessary skills to deal with global artistic issues. She was also invited to be an active member of many international networks and alliances, including the British Council Cultural leadership network, the fellows of DEVOS Institute for management at Maryland University in Washington, the IETM network, DC, ISPA: The International Society of Performing Arts, Salzburg, Global Seminar Fellows, Roberto Cimetta network and others. She is a nominator and a regular guest to the Prince Claus Fund awards ceremony in the Netherlands.
As a Damascene—and having worked for 11 year at the IFPO (The French Institute of the Levant) as the Cultural Resources Manager—Alma had the opportunity to work with almost all historians, archeologists, heritage experts and museums operating in the Levant. During this period, she managed, restored, digitized and exhibited the Heritage of the French Mandate in four countries in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine), a collection of about 50000 ancient photos, 7000 maps, and 15000 manuscripts. She was responsible for archiving and was also instrumental in opening up the archive to the public. During this period, she participated in the creation of the first Aerial Atlas of Syria, contributed to the installation of the Syrian European Archaeology Exhibition at the National Museum in Syria, then at the IMA (Institut du Monde Arabe). She later managed the ”Geothèque,” a project initiated by the National Centre of Scientific Research in France (CNRS) in partnership with the National Library (France), which aimed to digitize an automated easy-access database of a ‘Bank of images’ in the region. In the year 2000, she undertook a two months residency at the “Nicéphore Niépce museum in France, learning the ancient techniques of developing and conserving photographs. She later developed these in a small laboratory at the Institute in Damascus, Alma and published the book entitled “Photographies du Levant,” which introduced this fabulous collection to public. Later, and during her work with the British Council, Alma was overseeing a MENA regional capacity building for museum managers in partnership with various museums in the UK. She was the lead on the AlJameel Prize exhibition at the National Museum in Damascus, among other heritage projects in the region. In 2015, she initiated a campaign entitled “Save Palmyra,” where she started lobbying with key Syrian artists and activists for the protection of Syrian heritage sites and the restriction of artcrafts endangered by looting ,trafficking and destruction of Syrian civilization’s cultural trace. The campaign succeeded in attracting the attention of members of the European parliament, where her co-curated British Council Syria Third Space exhibition was touring. Additionally, the campaign managed to issue an EU decree to support protecting Syria and Iraq Heritage. Alma is currently a member of Jury for The British Council Cultural Protection Fund and one of Turquoise Mountain Syria programme experts
Visual, Digital and New Media Arts:
Since her early childhood, Alma was exposed to visual arts history. She had the opportunity to visit and learn from some of the world’s leading visual arts scenes and rich crafts making culture. During her bachelor degree in arts and her higher diploma at Sorbonne Paris IV, she studied arts history. Later in her career, she also had the opportunity to develop the first digital archive “Bank of images for the Levant.” During her IFPO years, Alma worked with leading contemporary artists in fashion and design. She also worked with the British Council team across the Arab region, offering the young creative entrepreneurs award in partnership with London Fashion Week. She also created the first network of Arab designers from the Gulf to the Levant in partnership with Beirut Design week. She has worked with some of the key visual arts institutions in Canada, Europe and the MENA region. These include the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate, Montreal SKOL Centre for Contemporary arts, The UK Delphina foundation, The Istanbul Biennale, The Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, Musée Nicéphore Niépce in France, the Naughton gallery in Belfast, ALJameel Prize, Sharja foundation, Ashkal Alwan contemporary arts center and Hashem Gallery in Beirut. Working with Creative Dialogue on a 3 year MENA regional project entitled “Design Road,” she also developed the founding strategy for Atassi Foundation.
In 2015, she co-curated Syria Third Space for the British Council and is the Founder and Senior Curator of Syria Sixth Space contemporary arts touring curatorial platform with its first upcoming exhibition entitled KASHASH hosting six researches and six contemporary artists touring to four cities in the Netherlands in partnership with Dancing On the Edge festival
Alma holds a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature from Damascus University and a diploma in French from the Sorbonne Paris IV. During her third year at University, Alma was awarded her first two month scholarship residency at the Festival of Avignon. Later in her career at the British Council she was the lead on numerous large-scale performing arts projects and performing arts technical capacity building programmes. Of particular note was the development of a MENA regional Contemporary Dance Network, the design of a yearly theatrical program, including a three year “New Writing for Theatre” program that led to the development of an anthology of 20 new plays in a partnership between the British Council, Royal Court Theatre in the UK and A. M. Qattan Foundation in Palestine and Artists Citizens and Damascus Theater Laboratory from Syria. Among other festivals, she was a regular delegate at the Edinburgh British Council Showcase festival and was a guest curator for the Imagine 2037 festival (part of Edinburgh festival 2017). She as also adjudicated at several UK Contemporary Dance festivals and the World Music Expo WOMEX. She also led a regional British Council showcase tour, working with companies like Akram Khan, Russel Maliphant, Lizz Agiss, Akash Odedra, Maqamat for Dance, Saryyet Ramallah, Ezzat Ezzat Dance Studio, ZOUKAK, Beirut Spring Festival, De-Caf festival in Cairo, Erbil literature festival, among many others across the region. A particular highlight of her career was working with the British Council to bring the band Gorillaz to Damascus Citadel in 2010.
Alma is a member of Syria National Cultural Policies group, a task force created to respond to the conditions of Syria’s artistic community in times of conflict. Sharing learning and prioritizing common needs, she contributes regularly to the discussion around key current challenges. She was also a regular attendee to the informal Arab Donors meeting for culture. Read her article about making the case for culture and development in The Cultural Policy in the Arab Region magazine.
In 2015, she was invited as a speaker on Syria to the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, and to the European parliament, and is an active member of Canada Liberal party
Cultural Leadership and Networks:
Since 2012, Alma lead on the British Council Cultural Leadership Regional Network, supported by the Ford Foundation—carrying forward the legacy of years of British Council efforts to maintain strong networks of artistic practice in the Arab region and beyond. She added value by developing new institutional partnerships across the Arab region for the program, where she identified and worked with over 100 Cultural leaders from 17 countries, linking them to peers’ relevant networks across the globe. She also developed cultural leadership laboratories for the Levant, North Africa and the Gulf region. She is an attending member of the SEAAA alliance launch for artistic and cultural mobility in South Europe, Asia and the Arab world. She was also part of the launch of the Arab-Balkan - platform for exchange. Her work has involved the creation of a British Council Mobility fund in line with the UNESCO 2005 Convention for Cultural Diversity agenda.
She is a member of many advisory boards, including Art Cabinet, SKOL Contemporary arts Centre and the Syria Culture Index. She was a guest judge at the Montreal first nations film festival, The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), among others. She was a speaker to Salzburg Global Seminar, to 100th Congress of the International Society of Performing arts ISPA and to IETM Freedoms of Expression session. She is a member of the Montreal film collective Regards Syriens.
Creative Economies, Industries and Entrepreneurship:
During her programmes design career, Alma has had the opportunity to get to know governmental priorities and policies across the region. She is also well-informed about the changes that have occurred to these policies as a result of the Arab Spring, especially in Egypt and Tunisia. She is also an active member of the Independent cultural community, and for several years she has taken part in the Informal Arab donors meeting—helping to set MENA regional sector priorities.
Alma is one of MENA’s leaders and lobbyists for linking arts to business, and the development of innovation and the creative economy agenda in the Arab region. She has conducted research that has mapped the creative industries in Syria and has organized master classes to introduce the concept into the region. She has also advised on the Create Jordan initiative, in partnership with EUNIC cluster, supporting Beirut Creative Cluster’s development into an innovation hub. She has translated creative economy books into Arabic and has initiated a British Council-HIVOS partnership to strengthen creative businesses cluster in the Arab region. She has also introduced a crowd funding model into the MENA artistic community. Alma was a member of 2062 mission to the Future innovators lab at la Gaîté lyrique in 2012 in Paris, she was also a speaker to HIVOS co-working camp during the rise-up summit at the Greek Campus in Cairo alongside high profile speakers from Silicon Valley
Arts For Development Of Communities And Social Change:
Starting in 2006, and as part of her British Council career, Alma worked on a regional programme entitled Media in Society, covering Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt. Her work was based on in-depth research carried out by the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research, highlighting media tools’ use trends. She worked with the renowned cartoonist Ali Ferzat to develop a Media in Society toolkit dedicated to supporting young emerging journalists and cartoonists in influencing positive social change. She has also established a regional network of satirist writers and cartoonists in the Arab world, exhibiting at the Guardian News room in London and inviting the cartoonist Steve Bell to open a conversation about the Danish cartoons issue in Damascus, a hot topic at the time. She was also managing a gender focused project entitled “Women At Work,” which aimed to raise awareness about the areas where Syria needs to apply the CEDAW convention. Between 2006 and 2008, Alma managed the British Council youth exchange programmes entitled Global Exchange and Active Citizens. And since 2011, her work and commitment contributed to designing and implementing relevant artistic emergency response models to conflict times and zones; ensuring that one of the arts’ leading roles is to respond to Syria’s displaced communities development needs in line with global development goals and policies.
Arts Strategies, Management, Monitoring And Evaluation:
By inviting relevant expertise and talented teams on board our bureau provides cultural management services across all heritage and art forms, and all arts programming phases from: initiation, environmental analysis, planning, monitoring, evaluation, marketing, communication, business sustainability, audience development, conceptualization, curation, creative content design and solutions.
Our bureau’s networks across the MENA region, Europe and North America provide us with access to the relevant research and data to strengthen our programme designs based on international metrics standards.
Our bureau proudly offered arts management services to institutions like The British Council, Atassi Foundation , Sundance Theater Program, Sharja Foundation, Turquoise Mountain, AlMawred ( Cultural Resource) –The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Zoukak, Ettijahat for Culture among others and is currently member of the experts cluster evaluating the EU Project: communities of practice for the public value of culture in the Southern Mediterranean.
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Capacity Building, Training And Educational Curricula Design:
Alma is currently an instructor for a BTE Paterson learning method based programme, run by KWN Online Education LLC in Dubai UAE. This is a high quality Arabic STEAM*-based platform that shifts digital entrepreneurs onto a global standard. She also teaches a course on arts management and another entitled, “Cultural and Contextual Referencing in Arts and Design.”
Prior to this, she worked with the British Council schools team to develop an educational classrooms resource pack for the Syria Third Space exhibition.
She has recently developed her own curricula for Cultural Institutions arts management training and coaching, she offered training to culture resource ( AlMawred Al Thaqafi) , and currently working on developing a Heritage protection schools curricula with Turquoise Mountain in Syrian camps in Jordan
Arts grants management, critique and judging:
Alma is a renowned curator and judge; she has been on grants committees for organizations and festivals such as The Imagine 2037 festival (as part of Edinburgh Fringe Festival), AFAC, Presence Autochtone, Montreal’s First Nations Festival, Prince Claus Fund Syria Arts and Beyond, Ettijahat for Culture Create Syria , Syria Mobile Film Festival, Bidadyat Scottish Documentary Institute Syrian stories, The Space Syrian grants digital commissioning scheme.
Cultural And Artistic Translations:
Alma holder of a higher diploma of translation from L'UNIVERSITÉ LUMIÈRE LYON 2 , Alma is three languages translator: Arabic, English, French. Alma has offered artistic translation services to institutions like Sundance Institute in the USA and Sharjah Foundation in UAE. She also translated the following books to Arabic : VOICES OF THE PEOPLE , THE CREATIVE ECONOMY, AN INTRODUCTARY GUIDE , MAPPING THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES, A TOOLKIT
Volunteering, Coaching And Mentorship For Artists And Cultural Institutions:
Since the beginning of Syrian uprising in 2011—and as part of her ethical commitment to the wave of MENA regional freedoms and artistic movements—Alma coached various cultural institutions, individual emerging artists and new clusters across the Arab world on a voluntary basis.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch: Availability is given to Syrians as a priority.