Inaugural cohort for NYUAD Arts Center’s Numoo artist development initiative

Jaysus Zain, one of the inaugural 14 participants in Numoo

The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi has named the initial intake of 14 UAE-based artists for its new artists development programme Numoo.

The aim of the year-long programme, currently a pilot supported by a grant from the US Mission to the UAE, is to embellish their professional skills and foster a comprehensive understanding of the arts field in the UAE. It is tailored toward professional skills and process, rather than being product oriented – the press release says “Numoo aims to have each artist grow professionally in their field, to build a sustainable artistic community, to better enable them to bring their work to the public, in the UAE and further afield”.

Bill Bragin, Executive Artistic Director at The Arts Center, said the Center is committed to investing in the UAE’s creative economy through commissioning and professional development.

“Numoo allows us to play a vital role in the UAE’s artistic and cultural scenes, and will support our expanded efforts to connect The Arts Center’s work to educational efforts at NYUAD, and with other UAE universities, primary, and secondary schools.

“It’s our hope that the artists selected to inaugurate this programme will strengthen their ability to build sustainable careers in the UAE, as well as increasing UAE-based artists’ capacity to bring their work to international stages.”

“We hope that the program will continue annually, to create connections and artistic community across each cohort.”

The schedule includes regular meetings with the cohort and instructors, working sessions, and independent work for each artist based on their own artistic practices. Participants will receive guidance from The Arts Center staff, invited arts professionals, and one another. They will also engage with The Arts Center’s public performances and attend Off the Stage workshops and panels.

In the curriculum are such topics as defining and communicating an artistic vision; project management and budgeting; rights, royalties, and intellectual property; contracts and negotiation; and working with technical production and touring.

Selected through a mix of nominations and an open call application followed by a collaborative evaluation process, the participants come from varied backgrounds and artistic experiences; they range from poets to musicians, writers and theatre makers.


The 2021/2022 cohort:

  • Aya Afaneh Palestine/US
    Artist, writer and performer; graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi in May 2021, double majoring in art and art history and theatre with a minor in creative writing. Currently devising a performance piece about a Palestinian teenager in the diaspora who finds a way to connect with his homeland using his grandmother’s recipes.
  • Carlos Alejandro Páez González Venezuela [below, at work in NYUAD]
    Writer and performer; graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a major in theatre and a minor in game design, interested in the value of seeing games as art and making games that have an impactful message. Currently working on a poetry sound walk that explores the nature of change and materiality from the perspective of a young artist in the Arab Gulf.
  • Dorian Paul Rogers US
    Performance poet, hip hop artist, educator, events curator; founded Rooftop Rhythms in 2012, much sought after as a performance arts curator in the UAE
  • Ethan David Lee UK
    Writer, director, producer, theatremaker, co-creative director of the cross-border performing arts company Exit 11; has an artistic interest in migration and post-colonialism, often using docu-theatre techniques.
  • Jaysus Zain Sudan [top]
    Performance poet; (twice Dubai Poetry Slam Champion); a regular collaborator of NYUAD, providing artistic direction to events such as Rooftop Rhythms, hosts Poetic Fridays Abu Dhabi, and features at Arthouse Backyard Poetry as well as Dubai’s open-mic event Blank Space.
  • Jerome Deligero Philippines
    Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter; played for various indie bands such as The Deer Hum and Monteath, recording both their debut albums, and has since worked as a live and recording musician for a range of UAE artists and bands.
  • Jomel Reyes Philippines
    Theatre-maker, video editor, performance curator; co-founder of Philippine-based performance group Performatibo Manila, and co-founder of +63Kolektib, the first all-Filipino UAE-based theatre group.
  • Juan Paul Gonzales Philippines
    Director, choreographer, dramaturge, theatre-maker; co-founder of 63Kolektib. Currently exploring different practices including devised/experimental work and research-based performances.
  • Khayal UAE
    Singer/songwriter, music producer; his debut EP was released in 2020. In 2021, Khayal joined Bait 15 as a resident artist and created an upcoming full-length concept album Magical Show. Sees his art as a space for him to be vulnerable and express his thoughts and emotions in the most theatrical, dramatic, colourful way possible.
  • Lama Mosallem Egypt
    Singer/songwriter, guitarist; writes and sings about mental health, social issues, heartbreak, love, and family in both English and Arabic. Sees her music as art projects; wants to challenge the place of women and other minority groups in society, moving closer to a humane world through music.
  • Rashed Qurwash UAE
    Photographer, videographer, sculptor; his practice investigates the human condition using imagined tools he creates and employs in pre-recorded performances and intimate phone drawings.
  • Safiya Bin AlSheikh Ali UAE
    Singer, actor, dancer, musician; currently an entertainment executive at Global Village, hosting theatre shows, working as a stage manager, and assisting as costumed characters.
  • Smrithi Nair India
    Actor, trained in Practical Aesthetics; her work blurs the lines between theatre, sound, and video art. Interested in combining practice with theory in an academic exploration of theatre’s evolution.
  • Subin Thompson India
    Pianist, composer, sound engineer, teacher of music theory. Currently researching the potential of immersive audio in the entertainment industry.

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