The Emirate’s flagship umbrella arts initiative, Dubai Art Season encompasses an array of creative events and activities throughout March and April. Since kicking off with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Season has seen several major events including SIKKA Art Fair and Art Dubai.
Dubai Art Season supports Dubai Culture’s vision of establishing Dubai as a global, creative and sustainable city for culture, heritage, arts and literature, and its mission to empower these sectors to bring happiness to society.
Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid said: "Dubai Art Season has placed the city strongly on the international art map. A flagship initiative encompassing a wide range of events that cater to diverse audiences, it has been at the centre of both institutional and public interest. Growing in content and scale, especially in the number of local and regional initiatives, Dubai Art Season has laid the foundation for sustainability in the cultural sector, and has undoubtedly emerged as an important event that showcases our culture to the world."
Dubai Art Season 2018 kicked off with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which Dubai Culture supported as the Strategic Partner. The event, which is the Middle East’s largest and most exciting celebration of the written and spoken word, attracted more than 41,780 visitors from 1 to 11 March at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City. Attendees took part in more than 200 sessions featuring 180 bestselling authors from across the world. The Festival also reached 28,092 students from 250 government and private schools through its educational events, which supported the objectives of the National Reading Strategy during the UAE’s National Reading Month in March.
Flagship events that took place during the Dubai Art Season included the Art Week, which ran from 17 to 24 March. The event was headlined by the eighth edition of SIKKA Art Fair held from 17 to 26 March at the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. This year, the contemporary, artist-led fair for emerging Emirati, UAE-based and GCC talents was attended by more than 45,000 visitors. SIKKA featured over 40 artworks across a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibitions, art installations, workshops, films, music and performing arts, reflecting Dubai Culture’s commitment to nurturing and celebrating emerging talent.
Also part of Art Week was Art Dubai, the region’s largest international fair dedicated to art from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The event, which ran from 20 to 24 March and attracted over 28,000 visitors, saw the participation of representatives from 106 international museums and cultural institutions. The fair supported Dubai Culture’s mandates to establish Dubai as a global centre for creativity and also proactively nurtured creative talent through its ‘Art Dubai Residents’, ‘Artists in Residence’ and ‘Campus Dubai’ programmes.
Dubai Art Season featured a number of new events for 2018 including the Opera Gallery, an exhibition of works by the Spanish artist Manolo Valdes that was attended by more than 500 visitors over a three-week period. During the exhibition, over 10 artworks were sold to regional and international collectors. Other new initiatives included Van Gogh Alive – The Experience, an acclaimed art exhibition that has been touring the world. The exhibition visited Dubai from 11 March to 23 April. The World Doctors Orchestra, which took place on 22 March, saw physicians from around the world performing a charity concert at Dubai Opera. The concert attraced over 1,000 attendees and raised almost AED 1 million to support medical research.
Throughout the season, Dubai Culture also directly engaged the public and Dubai’s artistic community with the return of the Capture Creativity social media Instagram competition, which encouraged the community to share photos and videos that captured the creative spirt of the Season.
The vibrant two-month programme also saw the return of the Middle East Film & Comic Con held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 5 to 7 April, which attracted a total of 45,911 visitors, as well as DIFC Art Nights, for which Dubai Culture was the Cultural Partner this year. The event, which attracted 2,400 visitors, was held on 19 March on the same evening as the Al Serkal Avenue Galleries Night. Both events transformed two major areas of Dubai into creative hubs with art installations, exhibitions and talent. The Season also saw the return of the fourth edition of Dubai Canvas that was held at La Mer and the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Awards on 12 March, which honoured 22 winners. The Awards attracted more than 300,000 entries from 196 countries since its inception. Other returning initiatives included the ISAS Annual Art Exhibition, which was attended by around 1,200 visitors from 18 to 25 March, the ING Creative Festival 2018 at Al Serkal Avenue from 11 to 13 April, and World Art Dubai 2018 held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 18 to 21 April.
Dubai Art Season, which takes pride of place in Dubai Culture’s rich calendar of events, aims to enhance Dubai’s cultural scene and draw attention to the Emirate’s rich heritage. The Authority’s mandate is to build bridges of constructive dialogue between different civilisations and cultures through enriching initiatives that benefit the Emirate’s citizens, residents and visitors.