In bid to support local talent, Ithra launches second open call for Saudi artists

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The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) situated in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, has launched its second annual Open Call for Emerging Saudi and Saudi-based Artists.

Ithra’s programs and initiatives, such as the open calls for artists, offer opportunities, expertise and resources are aimed at empowering Saudi Arabian artists to reach their potential.

The winner of the first open call last year, Aziz Jamal, was a fresh graduate who had never exhibited in an institution before.

Aziz Jamal, the winner of Ithra's open call last year, was a fresh graduate who had never exhibited in an institution before. (Supplied)
Aziz Jamal, the winner of Ithra's open call last year, was a fresh graduate who had never exhibited in an institution before. (Supplied)

He was chosen from Ithra’s open call for contemporary artists in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, from among 600 applicants from which 14 were selected, and out of which Jamal was chosen to exhibit his work in the “Zamakan” exhibition at the Ithra Museum.

Jamal also displayed his work at 21,39 in Jeddah in June of last year organized by the Saudi Art Council.

Training and commissioning

As part of the initiative, 10 shortlisted artists will be given the opportunity to undertake five days of training from experts. The panel will then select one artist to create an artwork that will be featured in a contemporary art exhibition at Ithra, alongside established local and international artists.

The application deadline for the open call is August 31, 2020.

“One of our main pillars at Ithra is to support local talent, and now more than ever this kind of support is necessary,” said Laila Al-Faddagh, the Head of Ithra’s Museums.

“The world is going through a challenging time with the current crisis, and just like everyone else, artists and the cultural industry have been impacted by this pandemic. This is why we have decided to move forward with the open call to show our support to artists but to also create opportunities for new talent,” she said.

Applicants must be Saudi Arabian nationals or have lived in the Kingdom for a minimum of 10 years and must be at least 18 years old. Applicants, ideally with an interest in the arts, can apply as individual artists or as members of a collective. All submissions must be made online. The open call is free to enter, and the winner will be announced in December 2020.

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The 10 selected finalists will participate in a five-day virtual training program led by experts in the field, including the 2019 Open Call winner, Aziz Jamal.

The virtual program will include discussions about the state of contemporary art in Saudi Arabia and around the world, professional best practices and portfolio critiques. The program aims to additionally provide the finalists with the necessary foundation skills to develop a well-rounded and thorough proposal for Ithra’s next contemporary art exhibition.

“This open call can create opportunities for emerging artists,” said Faddagh. “Even, if a participant does not win, but is selected to be among the final 10 artists the training they will receive will be invaluable to opening doors to the arts world and progressing their career as an artist.”

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