The festival has tapped into an extensive network of international locations, from Sleimani to Casablanca and Cairo to Riyadh, to bring audiences a wide range of performances.
Ten years after the Arab Spring Shubbak, London’s biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture, returns to the city for its sixth edition, with a programme packed with Arab art, film, music, theatre, dance and literature. The 2021 edition of the Shubbak Festival: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture will run from June 20 – July 17, 2021.
Virtually all the work in the festival is brand-new – commissioned or conceived especially for this year’s conditions. In a year when international work has been in short supply, Shubbak welcomes performers from Palestine, Berlin and Lebanon.
Eckhard Thiemann, Shubbak’s Artistic Director, said: “Shubbak 2021 celebrates the creativity and voices of Arab artists and takes you right into the heart of cultural expression in the Arab world and its diaspora. With a wide range of performance venues in London and an extensive network of international locations from Slemani to Casablanca, from Cairo to Riyadh, this year’s festival programme transcends the borders of all our previous editions. The festival is a place of discovery, meetings, calls to action as well as contemplation. As our world opens up again post-pandemic, Shubbak offers opportunities to reconnect, share and explore our new local and global realities.”
Venues for 2021 include Chelsea Physic Garden, Barbican, British Museum, Toynbee Studios, King’s Place, the Jazz Café and Mosaic Rooms, while the digital programme will feature a theatre premiere performed by Syrian actors in Germany, events live-streamed globally from Beirut, Gaza, Marrakech, Slemani, Riyadh, Khartoum and Doha, a film introducing the burgeoning hip hop scene in the Gulf, dance from Ramallah and four DJ/VJ artists sharing sets from Casablanca, Tunis, Cairo and Algiers.
For 2021 Shubbak has partnered with other UK organisations, including Glasgow-based Dardishi, an organisation that showcases Arab and North African women’s contributions to contemporary art and culture, and also with the SAFAR Film Festival, the only festival in the UK dedicated to cinema from the Arab world. SAFAR will put on a special hybrid edition of its festival at Shubbak, with its curated selection of films mirroring ten years of Arab Spring, both on the big screen and at home.
Shadia El Dardiry, Chair of the Shubbak Board of Trustees (Solicitor, Bates Wells Braithwaite), added: “Coinciding with its 10th anniversary, Shubbak 2021 is both the culmination of 10 years of artistic innovation as well as a brave and inspiring response to a radically disruptive year that has forced artists and curators to think of new ways of collaborating, creating and presenting art. While the festival will retain its roots and a physical presence in London it will, for the first time in its history, be open to a global audience through a series of online and international initiatives. I am incredibly excited for this year’s festival, and proud of the team and artists that have worked so hard to bring it to life.”
Shubbak is working with its venue partners to ensure all social distancing measures are met and that relevant risk assessments have been done. It will be operating under up-to-date government guidelines on all physical events.