The Abu Dhabi arts scene is gaining international traction, thanks to the big Saadiyat projects and government investment. What it lacks, however, is the infrastructure for individual artists – smaller community based galleries and accessible studios. The Zawiyah Studio & Gallery project is hoping to fix that.
Zawiyah (Arabic for ‘corner’ or ‘nook’) aims to provide emerging Emirati artists a space in which to discuss, create, and exhibit. The plan also includes some community outreach – creative workshops, internship opportunities, and collaborative projects with local organisations.
The guy behind the project, artists and ZU faculty member Ayyub Russell Hamilton, has been trying to get this off the ground in form or another for some time now. He came close with a cafe-cum-gallery proposal, but the real need is definitely for workspaces as well as exhibit venues.
Zawiyah is looking for $95,000 via Indiegogo and has two months to raise that. If achieved, the money will go towards the costs of premises in Abu Dhabi’s mina area, perhaps the perfect site – Warehouse421 is already active in the area, and the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation has studios there for its own Emerging Artists fellowships. This is Abu Dhabi’s best chance to create an equivalent to Dubai’s Al Quoz scene.
Zawiyah is looking to fit out 11 studios and a wood/metal shop for artists, a gallery, an arts library and community space for workshops/classes, and the first year’s rental. The business model assumes that studio rentals will pay for the warehouse rental in the subsequent years.
Anything less than the $95,000 will go towards rent for the space “and further funds will be sought to finish build out”.
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