Amr Gamal calls on private investors for funding
Young, energetic and impassioned by the arts, Yemeni director and filmmaker Amr Gamal talks to Arabstoday about the future of theatre in Yemen. His personal repertoire boasts seven highly-acclaimed
on-stage dramas and three soap operas that light up Yemeni TV screens, alongside various documentary films.
Though he’s a prolific filmmaker, he managed to take time out of his busy schedule to have a chat with us. His insights are interesting. The biggest challenge faced by Yemeni culture is not the looming threat from an oppressive Islamist ascendancy – it’s a lack of funding.
Gamal tells us how difficult and frustrating it is for young filmmakers to sell their work. This lack of private and public sector funding could curb artists, playwrights, poets and filmmakers from expressing their brilliance and shaping and setting the sociocultural agenda in the future.
What is the future of the theatre, drama, and creativity after the youth revolution in Yemen?
The revolution was a reason for the explosion of great talents, while the question is - would these talents find the proper care to turn their creativity into professional innovation.
The ascent of the Islamic trend raised the fears of many people for the future of the arts. How would you respond to such fears?
Where is the art in the country to fear? There are ears for the art in a large number of Islamic countries, while there is no art movement in our country. There are only a small number of artistic works.
Why did you not show your play Red Card in Sanaa?
Yemeni theatre suffers from a death of funding in the arts. We attempted to find funding to move Red Card to the capital. We are waiting to hear back from government bodies, to whom we proposed the transfer.
What are the problems that face Aden’s theatre?
Funding again! The absence of financing in Aden is the main challenge that faces the theatre. Art carries large financial risks and even private businesses are unwilling to take chances. Waiting for responses from producers and financiers rack up the costs and many artists are stifled by this frustrating lack of arts funding.
What does the Yemeni theatre need for development?
It needs a government that believes in the role of culture and theatre. I mean the serious theatre - not the theatre of hypocrisy that enjoys the support of the government. It needs also private investors who realizes the importance of the investing the theatre, and why such investment is essential.
How do you assess the role of the private sector in supporting the Yemeni theatre?
The private sector can be a great benefactor to the arts. Some television channels are really pushing businesses to fund arts. We need more channels on television to fuel competition. The government alone cannot encourage theatre. Especially when it doesn’t appreciate the role it plays in representing our culture.