Reflection: a new arts festival for Sharjah

Sharjah has massive international cultural credibility already, with the Biennial, the museums, the Maraya Arts Centre, and the Sharjah Arts Foundation. But it seems that’s not enough: this December sees the arrival of “Sharjah’s first annual festival of, culture, art, music, dance, theatre, food and fashion”, a 12-day event at Al Qasba under the name Reflection.

The location, the date, and the inclusion of “food and fashion” all suggest that Reflection isn’t aiming for a highbrow arty audience. Instead it promises to offer “artists, sculptors, photographers and musicians a platform for expression” and “the local community a place to come to explore and enjoy the world of art”, with the participation of “prestigious galleries, leading restaurants and cafés, talented artists, and government entities”.

It’s also being run by Qasba’s management, so we’re expecting that Reflection will work as a boost for a leisure destination at one of the peak shopping/feasting times of the year.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that – a breezy, populist approach without the pointy-head intellectualism and implied exclusivity of many arts/culture events would work well at Christmas in the avenues of Al Qasba. There are restaurants, lots of parking, and a Ferris wheel. Could be a fun evening out.

The early promotion doesn’t seem as well organized as it might be, though. There’s a wide-ranging open call for expressions of interest by “established artists as well as aspiring professionals”; if you have something to offer “in the fields of photography, painting, sculpture, drawing, work on paper (paper art, eg origami and other), performing arts, installations, sound art, videography, visual arts, and others”. You’re invited to submit a “participation request” by email before 27 October.

So there’s no detail about how art will be displayed and how performances will be staged; there’s no information about how many participants will be included, what kind of schedule there will be, whether Maraya (which is housed in Al Qasba) will be involved, who will be selecting participants and on what criteria, and what financial and other support might be available (we’d guess not much).

“Through this 12-day event, Al Qasba aims to foster a community culture where creative people have an avenue to express themselves, network and showcase their works to potential buyers and the general public in a vibrant and engaging environment,” said Khuloud Salim Al Junaibi, manager of Al Qasba (right). “We welcome potential participants to get in touch with us and make the most of this opportunity.”

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