Artwork on display at Galleries Night, Alserkal Art Week.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Alserkal, one of the UAE’s leading cultural enterprises, has announced an organisation-wide restructure, underscored by a rebrand exercise which has evolved the brand’s iconic logo and assets. The new brand direction aims to reaffirm its position as a socially responsible, forward-thinking, creative enterprise. Three key initiatives are
* Alserkal Advisory — to guide public and private sector entities in developing sustainable and responsive business models
* A sustainability plan that includes infrastructure projects, in addition to revisiting and rethinking models to focus on economies of repair for the creative sector
* Alserkal.online, an experimental digital platform led by the creative community, as a forum for cultural discourse, digital art commissions and multi-disciplinary editorial content.
Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Founder of Alserkal, reflecting on his organisation’s mission and impact over the past decade, said: “A thriving cultural scene is the backbone of integrated societies, engendering a sense of belonging and prosperity. “Our vision has been not only to help create the infrastructure within which the sector can thrive, but to ensure that as we make strides in growing the impact of arts and culture, we remain mindful of our relationship with the environment and the legacy that we are building for generations to come.” Speaking on the launch of Alserkal’s new initiatives, Vilma Jurkute, who has been named the new Executive Director of Alserkal following a long tenure with the organisation, said: “Now more than ever, it is imperative to take a forward-thinking stance in imagining new cultural paradigms and to consciously reconfigure our learned practices and process of creative production, while acting on our civic responsibility and measuring our impact on society, the environment and local economies.
“Alserkal’s mission — which extends across both our own activities and our guidance of like-minded initiatives globally through Alserkal Advisory — is to look beyond tokenised solutions; we create projects with longevity that are progressive and context-specific.” Alserkal Advisory is a multidisciplinary practice comprised of Alserkal’s founding team, in addition to thinkers, researchers, practitioners and specialists in diverse fields from multiple geographies. The body takes a sustainable approach to cultural advisory, aspiring to challenge conventional business practices and re-imagining cultural destinations and public programmes that connect and inspire communities.
Collaborating with an extensive global network of civic-cultural institutions, academics and cultural practitioners and applying research-based, co-operative and participatory methodology, it intends to make room for critical thinking and social agency in cultural production, including audience-specific programming for conferences and symposia, flagship events and public art commissions and heritage-creation. Alserkal Advisory will be led by Jurkute. Through the sustainability agenda, Alserkal plans to reinvigorate and advance its commitment to more sustainable and ecoconscious practice. It is working to reduce environmental impact in the midst of ongoing growth and development of creative practices in Alserkal Avenue, Alserkal’s curated cultural district.
In response to the global shift towards re-imagining new paradigms, Alserkal is taking an epistemological approach to sustainability and encourage behavioural change.
The focus is on offsetting and reducing carbon emissions: the installation of solar panels across part of the Avenue’s roofs will reduce more than 1.5 metric tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Best practices in waste management are in place to support reduction in landfill waste, as well as promote recycling and composting of waste, where feasible. As part of the sustainability roadmap, Alserkal is also working on an annual tree-planting initiative, with the Alserkal Avenue community being rallied to pledge to plant trees; a campaign to eliminate single-use plastics in the Avenue by January 2022 and a pedestrianisation campaign to make the Avenue more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, as part of a long-term initiative to revisit the creative sector’s collective impact on the environment.
A digital expression of Alserkal’s commitment to supporting diverse contemporary narratives, alserkal.online is considered a pioneering digital community commons for arts, culture and opinion from the region, serving as a repository for all cultural events and programming that take place in Alserkal Avenue and its community concepts.
The new platform features content on culture, style, expression and opinion, provoking discourse in the areas of food, music, cinema, art and social responsibility.
It is a space for digital art commissions to come to life, with the institution celebrating its new digital presence with the online ‘Look Closer’ campaign, highlighting its spaces and concepts.
The campaign is initiated by Alserkal’s shift to a stronger visual presence through the evolution of its brand mark. The platform will be updated with new content on a regular basis, and can be accessed at www.alserkal.online. Founded in 2007 by Emirati businessman and patron Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Alserkal hosts ground-breaking artistic productions. With an experimental approach, it purposes to create culturally meaningful spaces, designed to inspire and shape communities. Alserkal has three core activity areas: cultivating a creative economy in Dubai and building a collaborative network of civic cultural institutions through its cultural district, Alserkal Avenue; providing advisory services to public and private sector entities and supporting public-artist commissions, residencies, research grants and educational programmes through its non-profit, Alserkal Arts Foundation. Alserkal anchors over 70 contemporary art galleries, visual and performing arts organisations, designers and entrepreneur-led businesses at Alserkal Avenue.
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