It’s Bahrain’s biggest arts festival, check it out...
Time Out Bahrain staff
Q&A with the organisers
We catch up with the festival’s organising committee to find out what’s happening at this year’s event.
When was the festival inaugurated and why? The festival was inaugurated in 2006 in order to promote tourism in the region and to promote cultural awareness. It also gives local people a flavour of other cultures with an entire month of art, culture and entertainment for the entire family.
In the past four years, what has been the highlight? In 2008 we managed to have a concert for Fairuz, who is a major Arab icon, and a major star in the region. It was like a dream come true. We spoke about it as a joke actually, and said, ‘What if we could actually have her?’ It took persistence, but we got lucky. Fairuz’s participation cemented our position as one of the most important festivals in the region..
What is the highlight this year? We have Diana Krall coming so, for us, that is the highlight. This is her first time in the Gulf, she has never been to the region before. And also the renowned architect Zaha Hadid, which is really great for the event.
It is a huge event. How long do you spend planning the festival? Actually we already have a couple of events lined up for the 2011 festival. As we’re getting bigger, some of the higher profile people that we try to bring are usually booked two or three years in advance. It never stops, it is an ongoing process.
This year is the fifth anniversary of the festival. Where do you see the event in five years time? We have been keeping up with our vision. In 2008 we started the family programme, and this has been getting stronger every year, and then in 2009 we started the education programme and this year we have a better education programme than we had last year. This year we initiated the talent programme. We started in December when we invited applicants from four different artistic disciplines to apply. And we had committees of professionals that picked the top 20. The top 20 went through a period of intensive workshops at the end of January and February, bringing them in contact with international experts. Through the workshops, the committees chose the top six in each discipline, who were then integrated into the festival with the groups that are performing. It is basically to give them experience of performing on stage with an international group, to train them that way. It is not really a talent show, but more of a workshop, giving them a sense of what it would be like to be in that field.