The Nour Festival of Arts today announces ambitious new plans to bring dazzling contemporary artistic talent from the Middle East and North Africa to London audiences during October-November 2012. For the first time the festival is to expand beyond Leighton House Museum to include a stellar cast of participating cultural organisations.
New festival partners include the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Ismaili Centre, the Mosaic Rooms, the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre and The Tabernacle. A significant new feature of Nour 2012 is the organisers’ call to cultural organisations, big and small, across Kensington and Chelsea to get involved with events that:
- reflect and celebrate the arts and culture of contemporary Middle Eastern and North African regions
- promote film, literature, music, visual arts, fashion, dance, cuisine
- demonstrate artistic excellence and work that is thought-provoking and challenging
The Nour Festival is coordinated by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and reflects the Council’s commitment to bring the very best international contemporary arts and culture to the borough. Nour – which means ‘light’ or ‘illumination’ in various Middle Eastern languages – sets out to explore contemporary culture from across the region and North Africa. The festival was inaugurated at Leighton House Museum in 2010, a building that is recognised as being an international symbol of east meeting west. The festival is non-religious in nature though recognises that faith can inspire great art.
The festival also works in collaboration with a host of London and UK partners, including the Arab British Centre, the British Egyptian Society, the Iran Heritage Foundation, and the London Arab Music Festival.
Nour Festival 2012 highlights include:
- British Palestinian author Selma Dabbagh is confirmed as festival Writer-in-Residence. Known most recently for her acclaimed novel Out of It, Selma will deliver a series of master workshops on writing and publishing at various festival venues.
- A programme of major concerts at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill with Tunisian singer-songwriter Amel Mathlouthi, Lebanese musician Charbel Rouhana and special guests.
- Leighton House Museum will host a ground-breaking exhibition of work by photo-journalist Bradley Secker highlighting the often forgotten plight of gay and lesbian refugees from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
- Cutting edge contemporary graphic design by Muiz Anwar and spatial design by Dia Batal will be showcased at Leighton House Museum.
- The V&A opens ‘Light from the Middle East’ an exhibition of photography that reflects elements of the region’s social, cultural and political life from the end of the 19th century to the present day.
- Contemporary Moroccan artist Abderrahim Yamou has his first ever UK exhibition at The Mosaic Rooms.
- Music and musicians have historically played a vital role in the cultures of Central Eurasia and the Middle East. The Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI) will showcase this musical heritage in contemporary forms in a performance at the Ismaili Centre
- Film screenings from up-and-coming Middle Eastern and North African film makers will be shown at Leighton House Museum in association with the London MENA Film Festival.
Cllr. Nicholas Paget-Brown, Deputy Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said:
“In just two years the borough’s Nour Festival has grown into one of the most important festivals exploring Middle Eastern arts and culture in the UK. Not only is it part of our commitment to bringing international cultural excellence to the borough, but it also fosters closer ties and understanding with this part of the world and our Arabic speaking communities in the area.
“The involvement of the V&A, Science Museum and other leading venues is a testament to the quality of success of the Festival to date. With their involvement we can reach new audiences and explore new avenues into the region, its cultures and art forms. We look forward to the full programme being announced in due course.”
Salma Tuqan, Contemporary Curator, Middle East at the V&A Museum, said:
“The V&A is proud to be one of the partners of the Nour Festival 2012. As the leading museum of art and design which celebrates diversity in its collections, exhibits and audience we are excited to contribute to the Nour Festival through our exhibition ‘Light from the Middle East’ and accompanying Friday Late as well as a series of educational workshops. The Nour Festival has developed organically over the last two years into a vibrant festival celebrating contemporary Arab culture and we are excited to work altogether to strengthen the festival even further.”
Imogen Ware, Projects Manager at The Arab British Centre, said:
“As an independent non-political, non-religious organisation which works to improve the British public’s understanding of the Arab world, The Arab British Centre has been a proud partner of the Nour Festival from the beginning. We believe that arts and cultural activities provide a solid platform for the exploration of the life, society and culture of the Arab world and that the Nour Festival actively champions this belief through its ground-breaking, diverse programme. We are delighted to see the festival grow borough-wide to become a leading light in showcasing some of the very best artistic talent from the Middle East and North Africa.”
For further information on how to get involved in this year’s Nour Festival please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A full programme of events will be released in late summer. For more information visit www.nourfestival.co.uk or follow @NourFestival on Twitter.