In her article, “A Makeover: Baghdad, the 2013 Arab Capital of Culture” (MER 266), Nada Shabout gives a description of arts and culture initiatives being developed in three Iraqi “zones.” There are a few discrepancies regarding the non-profit Sada (Echo) for contemporary Iraqi art. First, the organization is described as being based in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Sada has never been based in Erbil nor have we done specific work in this city. There is no connection between Iraqi Kurdistan and Sada as an organization, other than Sada’s broader mission to work in the Iraqi arts sphere as a whole. Our education programs work directly with emerging artists in Baghdad, through initiatives including online workshops in the city that have been taking place since 2011. In the summer of 2012, we held a one-week intensive program wherein 14 artists from Baghdad came to Suleimaniya for the program. This program was not “forced” to move because of events in Baghdad, but was always planned to take place in Suleimaniya because of the difficulty of obtaining visas for visiting artists to go to Baghdad as well as security issues, which, unfortunately, were problematic well before Sada’s founding. In 2013 our week-long intensive program took place in Beirut, and eight students from Baghdad came to Beirut in May to participate. Second, Skype did not recently emerge as a means of communicating with students, but has been used by Sada since we began programming in 2011 to circumvent the difficulty of entering Baghdad and address the isolation of Iraqi artists with regard to education and exploration of artistic practices. We developed the program, which has completed its second year, using Skype and our network of international artists to bring lectures and workshops directly to students assembled in Baghdad. Finally, the organization was not started by “young diaspora women,” but is a non-profit I founded in 2010 and continue to direct with the invaluable support of an advisory board and part-time staff comprised of artists, educators and invested cultural stakeholders, living both inside and outside Iraq.

Rijin Sahakian

How to cite this article:

"Letter (Fall 2013)," Middle East Report 268 (Fall 2013).

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