Amman - Norma Nematt
Jordanian writer Ibrahim Gharaibeh Director of the Cultural Department at the University of Jordan said the Ministry of Culture is the main sponsor of the arts in Jordan.
He added in his interview with "Arabs Today," it’s widely agreed the state of the Arts in Jordan is not ok that there is a shortage of positions within the artsin general. He went on to say more about the role of the Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Department at the University of Jordan to support the arts and culture affairs and as well as its future in the following interview
ArabsToday: What is the role of the Ministry of Culture in supporting and promoting cultural affairs in Jordan? Is there a problem with it?
Ibrahim Gharaibeh: The Ministry of Culture is considered the largest sponsor of the Arts and Cultural Affairs in Jordan. Yet cultural events are still not capable of competing in the market independently. For example publications try to be profitable products; however, lectures, plays, conferences as well as literary and artistic work still need support from the governmental.
He added that the ministry also sponsors the work of cultural associations and community-based programs, and is involved with the civil society to nurture and develop areas related to the arts and cultural affairs.
The ministry also plays a direct role in the distribution of books, magazines, children's magazines, literary works and family Libraries. When you take a look at the work the ministry conducts in terms of statistics it looks great. However, the majority of the community agrees the cultural scenes state of affairs in Jordan is really not okay.
AT: This of course leads us to the next question, what is the reality of Arts and Cultural in Jordan?
IG: The Jordanian cultural scene seems crowded with a very large number of programs, lectures, seminars, plays, conferences, festivals, art exhibitions, concerts both educational and artistic, intellectual and creative training in the Ministry of Culture, universities and cultural institutions in general. That said the general feeling is the cultural work is isolation from general society or everyday life, there is also gaps in the field of drama, film and television. People today are watching television a lot, and apparently the cultural and creative production is minimal or absent on the small and large screens. There are a lot of questions that need to have answers like the growing void between the society and cultural works? This new culture created to the public, what are the differences between it and the institutional or official culture? And why does this gap exist?
AT: What is the role played by the Cultural Department in the University of Jordan?
IG: The Cultural Department in the University of Jordan is a vessel of the cultural work in the university. What distinguishes the Cultural Department is that its programs and actions aimed primarily at the community outside the university, and working on communication and engagement with cultural institutions.
For this reason, the Cultural Department issued two magazines; First: The Cultural Magazine, a quarterly cultural magazine, and the other is the New Writers Magazine, it’s a monthly magazine designed to accommodate the creativity of university students and youth in the universities and other areas.
The department organizes series of seminars, weekly and monthly lectures where usually it tackles discussions about cultural and public issues with the participation of authors and those responsible for the case in question.
In addition, the circle also organizes annual cultural conferences; it discusses one of the major issues, such as the roots of national culture, the place in culture, collective rituals and celebrations in Jordanian heritage.
The Department also participates with the cultural institutions outside the university in organizing public conferences. It also produces number of books that accommodate events organized to increase interest and deliver it to the largest possible number of beneficiaries.
AT: What is the relationship between culture and the events and revolutions happening in the region now?
-IG: It is sure that the major political and social transformations ongoing today, the revolutions and events that followed it which is about to cover the whole Arab world expresses a new culture being formed in society. Culture after all is the consciousness of the people. What the Arab world is witnessing nowadays expresses the people’s vision on what they would like to look up to, and their observations on the difference between reality and what they wish to achieve. However, this culture was sudden and shocking to the actual cultural official scenery which explains the gap between the people and the cultural reality in general.
AT: How can we work on improving the cultural reality, are there any suggestions?
IG: Culture is simply the main ring that shapes people, brings them around to meet their resources and their economic, political and social systems. Thus today’s culture must be evaluated according to how much it reflects this form and how it has contributed toward the enhancement of people's lives and to help organize their resources, their political, social and economic development.
Gharaibeh ended the interview by saying culture is working mainly on the aesthetic formation of individuals and communities, beauty as a distinction between what is ugly and what is good be it an idea, actions, behavior, lifestyle, goods and services. Here a large aesthetic action can be created which is improving people’s life and their thoughts. Moreover, it can even establish an innovative economic market for food, clothing, architecture, tools, goods, equipment and products. It can also be a tool to develop social behavior, for the better. Culture also contributes mainly to the reduction of crime, suicide, delinquency, drug abuse, giving people new motive to work, produce and create with a sense of safety, satisfaction and achievements.
It is worth mentioning that Ibrahim Gharaibeh is a Jordanian writer, he writes a daily article in El Ghad Jordanian newspaper, he also writes in El Hayah in London and the Saudi Economic in addition to several intellectual and cultural papers, such as the Kuwaiti El Araby, Qatari El Doha, and has published several books, including: Jordan Street: a vision for development and reform in Jordan, Mirage (novel) Phoenix Island (novel for boys) and the Sound (novel).
He held the position of supervisor on the cultural pages of Qatari El Arab newspaper and as Head of the Department of Studies with Al Jazeera Net. Currently he is director of the Cultural Department at the University of Jordan.