Artists and the Arab Uprisings by Lowell H. Schwartz, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Jeffrey Martini

By Lowell H. Schwartz, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Jeffrey Martini

Regional artists can play a good function in shaping public debate and helping democratic transition within the heart East. This file explores the demanding situations artists have confronted because the Arab uprisings, U.S. govt courses to aid arts within the zone, and the big variety of nongovernmental actions to interact Arab artists, providing innovations to enhance help for those artists.

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12 The Filmmakers’ Syndicate has been particularly restrictive in this regard. Because making films in Egypt requires authorization from the syndicate, which has a sliding fee scale based on whether the applicant is a member, there are strong incentives for artists to join this organization. 13 This 11 “Mustaqbal al-I'lām al-Misrī ba'd al-Thawra” [“The Future of Egyptian Media After the Revolution”], Al-Hayat, June 8, 2011. 12 Interview with a representative from a private film academy, Cairo, Egypt, February 2, 2012.

The problem was well documented in the second Arab Human Development Report,23 and we have seen nothing that would change those findings. Indeed, in an informal survey of four publishing houses of varying sizes and specialties, we found that even a bestselling book from top publishing outfit al-Shuruq had an estimated print run of just 100,000 copies and that the publishers’ average print run for an Arabic book was under 10,000 copies (see box, next page). Although there is greater revenue potential in broadcast media and film, the pot is small even in these more lucrative domains.

A review of the new environment in Egypt after the January 25 revolution illustrates the countervailing dynamics that have erased red lines on a number of topics previously considered off limits while also introducing a new set of restrictions and constraints. Just as they were prior to the January 25 revolution, Egyptian artists are squeezed between government authorities and conservative religious forces that seek to limit the bounds of artistic freedom. Legal Framework for Censorship Since the January 25, 2011, revolution, little has changed in the legal framework used by Egyptian authorities to censor artistic works.

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