Art Jameel, an organisation that supports artists and creative communities, and the British Council, announce the launch of Anhar: Culture and Climate Platform, a three-tiered programme that invites artists, collectives and institutions based in the Arab world to submit proposals that engage meaningfully with the climate emergency. The Open Call was launched on October 4, with applications accepted through to December 15, 2023.

Anhar: Culture and Climate Platform has been developed through dialogue with a network of arts and ecology colleagues, many of whom participated in the Culture and Climate Summit, co-organised by Art Jameel and British Council, and hosted by Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai’s hub for contemporary art and ideas, earlier this year. The Anhar selection process will see expert juries consider proposals from individual practitioners making new work and supporting community projects through to grassroots institutions actioning practical solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. A major commissioning programme will support partners across the MENA region to create new artworks and programmes that address the climate crisis and foreground regional concerns. 

Anhar launches in the lead-up to the UAE hosting the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28), November 30–December 12, 2023. In this decisive decade for climate action, the UAE will seek to unite the world towards agreement on bold, practical, and ambitious solutions to the most pressing global challenge of our time. Anhar is designed as a legacy programme that leverages this moment of focus to nurture the arts and culture scenes of the Middle East and North Africa in responding to this challenge. 

The grants, totalling £250,000 (US$305,000), are categorised into three tiers: Tier 1: £1,000 to £5,000 ($1,000 to $6,000) for artists, creative practitioners and small-scale collectives or collaborative ventures working on climate-related projects and proposals that raise awareness in their community; Tier 2: £5,000 to £10,000 ($6,000 to $12,000) for cultural organisations embarking on initiatives to reduce their carbon and waste footprint through the development and implementation of decarbonisation strategies, including material works and investments in renewable energy infrastructures; Tier 3: £25,000 to £50,000 ($30,500 to $70,000) to support collaborations between partnerships of UK and MENA-based artists and/or cultural organisations seeking to develop a large-scale artistic response to the climate emergency. 

The arts have a central, dynamic role to play in communicating the urgency of the climate crisis, drawing in broad audiences as active participants in this endeavour, and in actioning practical solutions to reduce our collective carbon footprint. Sustainability has long been core to Art Jameel’s mandate, and we are delighted to be collaborating with the British Council to launch Anhar – a programme specifically developed by and for the Arab world, its creative practitioners and grassroots institutions. Anhar opens in the lead-up to COP 28 in the UAE and is designed as a legacy project that benefits the region as a whole. This programme is a reflection of – and aims to boost – the resilient and committed network of artists, creative practitioners and ecologists across the Arab world; through this collective action, we strive to forge a more sustainable future for all.

Antonia Carver, Director of Art Jameel

Pablo Rosselló, Director of the British Council’s Culture Responds global programme (which focuses on culture, diversity and climate), said: “The climate emergency is the most urgent threat currently facing humanity, with a disproportionately severe impact on the people and communities whose voices are least likely to be included in the global debates. We hope that this new round of commissioning in the MENA region will raise awareness, help shape cultural and intergovernmental responses around the world, and result in a more sustainable future, locally, regionally and internationally.” 

Amany Abouzeid, Regional Arts Director for British Council MENA, added: “We plan to invest in and celebrate significant artistic programmes that move the climate debate forward in a culturally relevant way that reflects the complexities of the Middle East and North Africa. Our new grants programme, drawing on and amplifying the energy and diversity of creative approaches in the region, will stimulate meaningful connections with the UK, as well as strengthening a broad network of cultural practitioners in their quest to become climate advocates and experts, both in their communities and on international platforms.” 

Anhar accepts proposals from individuals producing artistic outputs and cultural programming that engages with the climate emergency; cultural organisations actively refitting spaces for energy efficiency and renewable energy use, as well as implementing processes aimed at tracking and reducing carbon emissions and waste, are also encouraged to apply. Additionally, Anhar welcomes experimental and creative approaches to cultural production, in any artform, that centre local, community-based and intersectional perspectives.

About Art Jameel 

Art Jameel supports artists and creative communities. Founded and supported by the Jameel family philanthropies, the independent organisation is headquartered in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and works globally. Art Jameel’s programmes  – across exhibitions, commissions, research, learning and community-building  – are grounded in a dynamic understanding of the arts as fundamental to life and accessible to all.   

Art Jameel’s two institutions – Hayy Jameel, a dedicated complex for the arts and creativity in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Jameel Arts Centre, an innovative institution for contemporary art and ideas in Dubai, UAE – are complemented by digital initiatives plus collaborations with major institutional partners and a network of practitioners across the world. 

About Jameel Arts Centre 

One of the first contemporary arts institutions in Dubai, Jameel Arts Centre presents curated solo and group exhibitions, drawn both from the Art Jameel Collection and through regional and international collaborations.  

The Centre is a 10,000-square metre, three-storey, multi-disciplinary space designed by UK-based practice Serie Architects. The building is punctuated by seven gardens, designed by landscape architect Anouk Vogel, which reflect local and global desert biomes. Sitting alongside is the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park, designed by waiwai, and a collaboration between Art Jameel and Dubai Holding. 

Located by the creek in Dubai’s Jaddaf Waterfront neighbourhood, the Jemeel’s galleries are complemented by the Jameel Library, an open-access research centre dedicated to artists and cultural movements in the Gulf states and beyond. The Jameel also includes project and commissions spaces, a writer’s studio, an artisan seasonal dining concept Teible’ and the Art Jameel Shop.  

Jameel Arts Centre will serve as a hub for multidisciplinary practitioners working across culture and climate change during COP28. 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021–22 we reached 650 million people.