Theatrical Heterotopias in Conflict Zones
On the (Im)Possibilities of a Free Theatre
This project traces the impact of non-governmental and governmental funding on theatre with additional examples from the visual arts and music in the Occupied Palestinian Territories from 1983 to the present day. Foreign aid to both the Palestinian Authority through the Ministry of Culture as well as non- governmental organizations has played a key role in determining the ways in which the Palestinian cultural sector has developed over the last two decades. However, this transformation has not been viewed by local actors as an unmixed good. By using the arts as a means of promoting development, international donor agencies contributed towards the ‘NGOization’ of the Palestinian cultural sector. In the aftermath of the Oslo agreement, the sudden and large influx of foreign funding lead both to the proliferation of minor organizations working with smaller budgets and staff as well as to the transformation of fine arts companies into NGOs executing short-term programs based on social inclusion, democracy building, gender equality and youth activities. By tracing this development, this project delineates how the inflow of international aid has come at the expense of not only sustainable strategies that promote the arts for the sake of the arts but also the economic stability and social acceptance of the sector as a whole.