The Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), Economic Development Board (EDB), and the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research and the participating art galleries (Al Bareh Art Gallery, Al Riwaq Art Space and La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art) officially unveiled the 11th Spring of Culture programme at a press conference held today at Shaikh Salman bin Ahmed Al-Fateh Fort in Riffa. The Fort represents one of the main cultural destinations that are part of BACA’s year long programme “Destination Bahrain”.
Speaking on the occasion, H.E. Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of BACA , said, “Through the festival is a celebration that promotes the unique historical cultural assets which abound in Bahrain with the aim of building a sustainable cultural tourism industry. As such, we invite everyone through these activities to undertake an exciting journey of discovery of these numerous cultural assets that testify to a rich history which dates back many millennia.”
“The Spring of Culture once more affirms the role of culture as an effective tool to spread joy and facilitate constructive local and cross-cultural dialogue and collaboration, which ultimately benefits and enriches all of humankind,” Shaikha Mai added.
She further expressed her appreciation to the festival’s partners and sponsors for their support and commitment to invest in culture and enrich the local cultural scene, including the EDB represented by CEO Mr. Khalid Al-Rumaihi, the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research, Al Bareh Art Gallery, Al Riwaq Art Space, La Fontaine Art Centre, embassies of France and Egypt and The Alliance Française.
Mr. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB commented:
“Over the years, The Spring of Culture has proven to be a benchmark for Bahrain’s rich culture and heritage, further strengthening the Kingdom’s tourism sector which is a key sector for development at the EDB.
“The festival has now become a flagship event in the culture and tourism calendar in the region, bringing together international and local talents and emphasises the results successful partnership between the public and private sectors can achieve.”
The festival program features an array of events and activities that represent a wide spectrum of cultural pursuits and interests, from thought seminars, song and music concerts, theatrical productions, fine arts exhibitions, and more.
The fine art exhibitions present a rich visual feast, including the 42nd Bahrain Fine Arts Exhibition’s innovative creations of contemporary Bahraini artists and The Magnificent Maharajah Exhibition’s fabulous collection of traditional royal Indian costumes of Deepak and Diksha Hutheesing until March 20th and April 15th, respectively, both at the Bahrain National Museum.
In addition, Memory of the Place – Bin Matar House will host Bahraini artist Waheeda Malullah’s exhibition entitled “Little Voice” on February 28 and a photo exhibition documenting Bahrain on April 17. Al Bareh Art Gallery meanwhile will host Rasmi Al-Khafaji’s exhibition “Other Homelands” on March 1. A pair of exhibitions will take place at Al Riwaq Art Space, the first being “Identity Borders”, a group exhibition featuring the finalists of the 2015 artBahrain/The Nest Prize on March 5, and the other being a solo exhibition on April 5 by Ahmed Annan.
Other exhibitions include “Sleeping Cats” by Ebrahim Busaad at Busaad Art Gallery on March 16 whose featured works explore themes of infidelity and procrastination inspired by the unpredictable nature of cats and the artist’s own memories of growing up in Old Muharraq.
Featured international artists include Jordanian artist Dr. Khalid Khreis presents his solo exhibition “Dialogue of the Dot” on March 24 at the Art Centre which focuses on the element of “people” expressed as saturated crowds made up of varied repetitive dots, and Palestinian artist Bashar Alhroub’s exhibition “Nowhere” which draws from his country’s struggles at La Fontaine on March 26.
Music and Song:
Music fans will similarly enjoy an exceptional lineup of shows, starting with weekly shows of traditional songs sung by pearl divers and seafarers performed by Mohammed bin Faris Band every Thursday at the Mohammed bin Faris Hall, part of the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Centre for Culture and Research.
The Centre will also host Japanese violinist Mika Nishimura on February 29 and Lebanese folklore music band TriOrient on March 28. Marking Arab Poetry Day on March 21, the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Centre for Culture and Research, in coordination with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization and the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, is set to host a symposium celebrating the poetry of Nizar Qabbani followed by a performance of his most famous works by Jahida Wehbe and Amani bin Tara.
On March 3, the multi-talented Turkish actor Halİt Ergenç, star of the popular Turkish historical drama series “Hareem Al Sultan”, will perform in a memorable music concert featuring the Cinema Symphony Orchestra led by conductor Serdar Yalçın at the Bahrain National Theatre.
The Cultural Hall will also host a series of musical concerts as part of the festival, starting on March 8 with a tribute to the music legacy of the late Lebanese diva Sabah performed by Rima Khcheich. This will be followed on March 24 by the young Egyptian singer and composer Mohamed Mohsen who will perform his contemporary take on the traditional Egyptian song repertoire. On April 3, pioneering music band Tinariwen from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali will perform their singularly unique and original sound and melancholic tunes, dubbed “African Blues”. The hall concludes its musical events on April 8 with a special concert and documentary screening honoring the Bahraini musician and composer Majeed Marhoon, a joint initiative between the Red Bull Music Academy and BACA in which the late artist’s compositions will be performed by the Bahrain Music Band, Hasan Hujairi, Esam “Cosmo” Hamad, and Henrik Shwarz.
The historic Arad Fort will serve as the backdrop for a series of music concerts as well, kicking off with the powerhouse tunes of acclaimed American jazz singer Gregory Porter on March 5, followed on March 9 by the “Caesar of Arabic Music” Kadim Al Sahir who will enchant his fans with past hits and songs from his new album. Multi-platinum singer-songwriter Seal whose chart-topping hits have sold over 30 million copies will take the fort’s stage on March 24. Famous Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela will dazzle with their fast and furious rock, metal, and world music fusion on March 31.
La Fontaine will also host a Fado concert by Liana on March 4 featuring the renowned Portuguese singer performing the sultry music of her native country.
The music scene in Bahrain will be enriched with the opening of Dar Al Muharraq, a project which will see the renovation and expansion of the existing Dar Jinaa in the old city of Muharraq to serve as a training and research centre for traditional folk music which will enhance the intangible heritage of Muharraq.
Caracalla Theatre Theatre kicks off the first of many entertaining theatrical productions during the festival season with their whimsical Arabic heritage-inspired show Kan Ya Ma Kan on February 25 at the Bahrain National Theatre. The performance also commemorates the occasion of Arab Tourism Day.
In conjunction, the Cultural Hall will host a lineup of distinguished shows, including the renowned Image Theatre on March 11 – 12 in a performance of black theatre, mime and modern dance based on the distinguished Czech tradition in this genre. On March 17 – 18 colloquial poet Salah Jaheen’s greatest work “El-Leila El-Kebira” will be performed in a new interpretation that combines an honest and humorous style and Arab and Western music ensembles and song. German production “Hotel Paradiso”, an amusing story of a busy ski resort in the Alps, will play on March 27 – 28 On April 19, the hall will host “Tafateef”, a theatrical production written by Bahraini writer Aqeel Siwar, directed by Ahmed Al-Sayegh, and produced by BACA which follows the adventures of a team of students who dive into the sea to discover new worlds and creatures who teach them about the history of Bahrain.
The performance also extend to Arad Fort, where celebrated choreographer Akram Khan presents his contemporary take on traditional Kathak dance on March 11 in a spiritually mesmerizing performance. This will be followed on March 17 with a multi-cultural performance of Georges Bizet’s classic work Carmen involving 23 musicians from 10 countries. The daring feats of the award-winning circus show “Flown” will mesmerise the audience on April 7 – 9 in this story which follows a band of acrobats, aerial gymnasts, musicians, and magicians as they attempt to put on a street show.
A number of family-friendly shows is also on slate, including Tiddler and Other Terriffic Tales on March 18 – 19 at the Alumni Club featuring stories by Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler that take audience to the depths of the ocean and deep inside the forest with live music, puppetry, and a whole host of colorful characters. On April 8 – 9 the club will also host Chaos in the Town, a Bahraini production which teaches children kindness, cooperation, and friendship through a witty and fun play based on the books of the celebrated Arabic children author Fatima Sharaffeddine from Lebanon.
Lectures and Seminars
The Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research will host a number of lectures and seminars on various topics presented by leading intellectuals, thought leaders, and literary figures. Anne Radiesse and Iris Love will share their insights on how beauty manifests itself in culture on March 14. On March 21, London-based Iraqi writer Khalid Kishtainy discusses his native country’s heritage in his talk about the ancient civilization of Sumer and its budding democracy. This will be followed on April 11 by Palestinian writer Aisha Oude in her discussion about the power of writing and the role it plays in resistance and liberation, followed on April 18 with Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazale who will highlight the role of media in fighting terrorism. The lecture series will conclude on April 25 with a panel of distinguished intellectuals including Salah Fadl, Amani Fouad, Waciny Al-Araj, and Abdo Wazen in an eye-opening discussion on how to write about art in novels.
In parallel, lovers of the spoken word will be treated to several poetry readings, including poets Badia Kashgari from Saudi Arabia on March 7 and Majida Dagher from Lebanon on April 4 at House of Poetry – Ebrahim Al-Arrayed. The Bahrain National Museum will host poet Gamal Bekheet on March 20, while the Art Centre will host a series of talks by prominent artists, including Abdul Karim Al-Orayyed on March 2 and Marwa Rashid on April 6.
The 17th annual Bahrain International Book Fair will open its doors to the public from March 24 to April 3 to peruse the thousands of titles by local and regional publishers and enjoy the many events held as part of the event, including book signings, seminars, poetry readings, and special children’s wing and educational program.
Moreover, famous Indonesian writer Andrea Hirata will host a signing at the La Fontaine of his best-selling novel The Rainbow Troops, which tells the adventures of two village teachers and their impoverished rag-tag clutch of elementary school children in a remote island in Indonesia.
Complementing these events is a range of cultural activities throughout the island. Among these is the all-new Spring of Culture free Pop-Up street shows taking place at different public locations around the island, which includes The Yelling Kitchen Prince from March 3 – 5, Dancing Graffiti on March 10 and 12, Origami Story Teller from March 24 – 26, and storyteller Fatima Sharafeddine from April 10 – 11.
Al Riwaq Art Space will host the Green Caravan Festival from March 17 – 18, which includes screenings of short films from around the Middle East, international documentary films, and panel discussions. On March 22, the Bahrain National Museum will host a special screening of the famous 1967 Egyptian film Qasr El-Shouq, the second part of the classic trilogy by the late great Egyptian novelist and Nobel Prize for Literature recipient Naguib Mahfouz starring the late Egyptian movie star Nour El-Sherif in his first leading role.
Outreach Programmes (Education and Community)
The Spring of Culture will feature a number of community outreach initiatives revolving around culture and the arts. The Economic Development Board (EDB), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the University of Bahrain, will provide teachers and university students with an opportunity to attend week long workshops and lectures covering various topics. A number of seats have also been dedicated for the Royal Charity Organization children during events.
To develop Bahrain’s local talents, Spring of Culture is organising a number of workshops in cooperation with La Fontaine Art Centre. Some of the participating troops will also hold educational sessions for the public, which can be booked through the dedicated line found in the Spring of Culture events brochure, or the website.
Tickets for the shows will be sold at the festival kiosk located near gate 1 at Bahrain City Centre or online at www.springofculture.org . The public may also browse the website or call the festival hotline +973 39900630 for more information about the events and schedule.
Spring of Culture Gold sponsors for this year are National Bank of Bahrain (NBB), Huwaei and Bahrain Airport Company. Silver sponsors are ALBA, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, Bahrain Duty Free and Bahrain Airport Services (BAS). The event is also supported by BMMI.