The exciting calendar planned for the 10th edition of the Spring of Culture Festival, which will be held under the theme "Ten Bright Years", was unveiled at a press conference by Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities President Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, the Minister of Transportation and Telecommunication and Acting CE of the EDB Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, and a number of strategic partners, corporate sponsors, and media.
Speaking at the press conference held held at the visitors centre of Bu Maher Fort in Muharraq, Shaikha Mai said: "The upcoming Spring of Culture marks a decade of celebrating heritage and civilisation, and is a highlight of the "Our Year of Heritage" initiative. The occasion underlines the ability of culture to engage with people from around the world, as well as forge partnerships to boost the cultural and intellectual movement."
"Over that span, our small kingdom stamped its place on the world map as a preferred destination that welcomes and showcases all forms of cultural and artistic expression from around the world," she added.
Shaikha Mai also expressed her sincere gratitude to the Minister of Transportation and Acting CEO of the EDB Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed and all Spring of Culture partners, which include the EDB, Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research, Albareh Art Gallery, Al-Riwaq Art Space, and La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, as well as all our sponsors for their commitment and believe in the positive impact of culture on communities and nations.
Speaking at the conference,Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed said: "The Spring of Culture continues to be a shining example of partnership between official and civil sector organisations. The 10th anniversary of this iconic event re-affirms the commitment of the festival’s organisers and sponsors to convey the message of Bahrain’s openness and diversity to the rest of the world. It is an occasion to honour cultures from around the world, and an opportunity to engage with all strata of Bahraini society, and further hone and harness the creative power of its talented innovators."
The festival will run for two months, and features a jam-packed agenda of events and activities that suit different tastes and segments of society, including intellectual seminars, music and song concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, and much more.
A unique visual treat is awaiting audiences with a fine variety of art exhibitions representing different perspectives, cultures, and forms of expression.
The Bahrain National Museum in collaboration with Al-Mansouria Foundation for Culture and Creativity, will host ‘Modern and Contemporary Saudi Art, The Al-Mansouria Collection’, an exhibition which illustrates the evolution of Saudi contemporary art from the 1960’s to present day.
In addition, ‘Qal’at Al Bahrain through the Ages’ is an interactive art installation enhance the visitors’ experience of the site and raise awareness about its historical significance.
The Bahrain National Museum will also host the ‘Berber Women of Morocco’ exhibition, an amazing showcase of millennia-old Berber culture and identity told through exquisite objects from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the eastern edge of the Arabian Maghreb region.
The paintings and wood installations featured in Lobna Al-Ameen’s exhibition, hosted by Al-Riwaq Art Space from March 3 – 31, illustrates the artist’s reflection on life, nature and place remain the sources of inspiration and imagination.
Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research will host a unique multimedia exhibition which opens on March 8 featuring the works of Saudi artist Faisal Samra entitled ‘Global Warming’.
Jordanian artist Fadi Daoud’s unique music exhibition at Albareh Art Gallery from March 10 – 30 is inspired by his passion for the timeless classics of classical Arab greats such as Umm Kulthoum, Asmahan and Fairuz.
‘Encounters’, a photo exhibition by artist Sueraya Shaheen hosted by La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art from March 12 – June 10, is a collection of intimate documentary-style portraits of internationally-known Middle Eastern artists which capture them in their natural work environment.
From April 7 – 21, Albareh Art Gallery will host ‘The Margins’, a group exhibition which brings together four Saudi artists who offer a unique and compelling approach to abstraction and rejection of realist representation.
Another exhibition, ‘Vantage’, hosted by Al-Riwaq Art Space from April 12 – May 7, showcases the perspectives of 8 female artists on their connections with Islam through a wide range of styles and mediums. The exhibition will also include weekly talks with the artists about their artwork and personal experiences.
The wonderment of ancient fables comes alive on April 23 in ‘Kalila wa Dimna, Fables through Time’, a remarkable interactive exhibit hosted by Bahrain National Museum whose characters impart ancient wisdoms and life lessons through their relationships.
Music and Songs
Different flavours and styles of music and song will be prominently featured in the Spring of Culture as well. The journey starts on March 1 at the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research with "Hijazi Nights", a showcase of authentic music of the Hijaz with Saudi artist Bander Al-Shareef and his band.
Multiple Grammy-winning crooner John Legend will dazzle at Arad Fort on March 2 in the first of a series of open air concerts to be held at the historic venue.
Every Thursday evening beginning March 5, Mohammed bin Faris Band will take audiences on a lyrical voyage at the Mohammed bin Faris Hall in Muharraq.
Also on March 5, Bahrain National Theatre will host an enchanting evening of music with acclaimed Egyptian composer Omar Khairat, one of the most prominent Arab composers of his era, widely acclaimed for his unique style which blends Arabic and Western music.
Emirati singer Hussain Al-Jassmi continues the Arad Fort open air concert series on March 13 with a memorable performance of his greatest hits.
In her concert, entitled ‘Hawa’, Lebanese singer Rima Kheshish’s ability to blend the classics with contemporary music will be on full display at the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research.
For lovers of classic tarab, the tunes of the late great Farid Al-Atrash’s beloved classic hits will echo in the Cultural Hall in an unforgettable concert featuring the National Arab Music Ensemble and organised in collaboration by the Egyptian Embassy in Bahrain.
Multi-platinum selling and Grammy Award winner Joss Stone from the UK will come to Bahrain as part of her world music tour to be the featured artist in the grand finale of the open air concerts at Arad Fort on April 10.
Lectures and Thought Symposia
The Spring of Culture’s diverse agenda also includes a number of select lectures and thought symposia which cater to a wide range of interests.
Among them is a lecture by international author Pamela J. Olson at La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art on April 9 in which she brings to life stories from her award-winning memoir Fast Times in Palestine. The award-winning book provides an on-the-ground look at life under the stranglehold of a military occupation, as well as an examination of the latest trends in the Holy Land and the US that are helping or hindering efforts toward achieving true peace and justice in the region.
On March 8, Bahrain National Museum will host a lecture by Dr. Timothy Insoll, Professor of African and Islamic Archaeology, who will present the results of archaeological research completed in Bilad Al-Qadim between 2001-2015, with a focus on the Islamic period and on what has been learnt about past life, trade, settlement, and architecture.
Egyptian poet Farouk Jweideh, noted for his distinctively honest poetic style in the contemporary Arabic poetry movement, will share some of his works in an poetry reading at the House of Poetry – Ebrahim Al-Arrayed on March 9.
‘Love’ is the title of a lecture by Jack Lang, Former French Culture and Education Minister and President of the Arab World Institute in Paris shares his extensive cultural knowledge on March 15 at the Sh. Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research.
Dr. Anna Gastel, Vice-President of the Italian National Fund and Regional Director of the Italian National Fund in the Lombardy region, shares insights from her extensive experience in her lecture entitled ‘Successful Management of Italy’s Natural Heritage – Art & Tradition’, to be held at the Sh. Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research on March 16.
The Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research will also host a number of other lectures, including a exploration of Arab economic cooperation during the so-called "Arab Autumn" by Dr. Marwan Iskandar at Abdulla Al-Zayed House for Bahraini Press Heritage on March 23, as well as a lecture on the World Peace Organisation by Countess Krystyna Maria Wilczek.
Poetry lovers can also feast on a veritable "banquet" of poetry with Lebanese poet Joumana Haddad at the House of Poetry on April 6, while art lovers will be interested to attend a lecture by Director of the Guggenheim Foundation in Italy Philip Rylands on the outstanding Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice at the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research on April 20.
On literature, Saudi writer Badriya Al-Bishr will speak on novels and change within Saudi society on April 20, while Booker Prize-winning Kuwaiti author Saud Al-Sanousi will share his insights on literature and novels on April 27.
Performance Art and Theatre
In dance, theatre, and performance arts, the Spring of Culture features an exciting international lineup of talented stars, including the incredible martial arts-inspired high-wire acrobatics of Korean dance group Jump from March 5 – 7.
For those who prefer Latin flavours, Rojas and Rodriguez presents the magic and poetry of authentic Spanish flamenco dance over 2 nights from March 12 – 13.
USA-based show Land of Shadow will spellbind audiences in their show on March 26 – 27 through their skillful use of silhouettes to create vignettes of movement that are part dance, part theatre, part circus, and part concert.
Of course, the glitz and glamour of Indian dance musicals will be featured as well in ‘Bharati’, a spectacular Bollywood extravaganza that portrays the crossroads of traditional and modern India on March 27 – 28 at Arad Fort.
From March 19 – 22 at Salman Culture Centre, the hilarious family-friendly show ‘The Magic Chicken’ will bring its brand of slapstick comedy to create an atmosphere of joy and fun that has something for both kids and their parents.
As it does every year, the Spring of Culture also features a number of community outreach initiatives revolving around culture and the arts which are organised in collaboration with the EDB and Ministry of Education.
These initiatives, which target students and teachers, include a workshop on documentary making taught by award-winning Egyptian director Amir Ramsees, the art of sculpture on tree trunks led by Bahraini sculptor Fuad Al Binfalah, creating art out of hammered copper sheets with Egyptian artist Mohamad Nashaat, as well as Enkiru and Enka’s puppet-making workshop on March 26 at the Qal’at Al-Bahrain Site Museum.
Moreover, a number of workshops will also be conducted in collaboration with some of participating artists in the festival, including performance art workshops with members of the ‘The Magic Chicken’ and ‘Bharati’ shows.
Due to the limited availability of spaces, those interested in registering for these workshops must reserve their seats by contacting the organisers through the number listed on the Spring of Culture brochure or through the festival website.
Tickets for the shows will be sold at the dedicated festival kiosk located near gate 2 at Bahrain City Centre or via (www.springofculture.org). The public may also browse the website or call the dedicated festival hotline (39900630) for more information about the events and schedule.
Corporate sponsors of the festival include National Bank of Bahrain, Promo 7 Holding, Euro Motors – Ferrari, Aluminum Bahrain (Alba), and Nass Corporation.