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Saudi’s Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale Provides Empowering Experiences For Everyone

The inaugural event has an engaging programme based on education, exposure and experience that can be enjoyed by children, art aficionados and experts in the art field.

If you’re wondering how to keep your kids entertained over the holiday period and beyond, the inaugural Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is chock-full of fun experiences youg ones can enjoy. An exciting array of activities, from talks and panels, featuring artists and international experts will also ensure the adult art loving members of the family, and even art professionals, have oodles of reasons to check it out. And the good news is those strapped for time have until March 11, 2022 to head to the hub of arts-related engagement and learning in the JAX district of Diriyah, a region that has been recognised as a centre of artistic talent, whether dance, music or the visual arts, in the region.

As part of the ongoing programme, the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale will feature an arts camp for children between the ages of 7 and 14. The camp is set to be launched in January and is designed by Funtasia™, an educational platform rooted in interactive and socio-emotional learning that was established by philanthropist, model, actres and film director Elisa Sednaoui. The camp offers workshops that approach learning as a hands-on experiential event to supplement children’s formal education.

Organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation (DBF), the Biennale’s diverse programme offerings will also feature many opportunities for families and visitors to engage in playful and entertaining experiences, including treasure hunts, open mic nights, quiz nights, art murals and much more. An immersive wall - developed by Midwam - will feature a changing art puzzle that challenges children’s general art knowledge.

Additionally, the Biennale will offer DB Art 101s, a series of introductory talks that answer questions on foundational concepts in art and culture such as, “What is contemporary art? What is the role of a curator? What is art law? and What is a Biennale?” These will be led by a variety of experts, including Brian Butterfield, Dr Eiman Elgibreen, Dr Effat Fadag, Dr Amy Mechowski, Dr Thomas Schneider and Yayoi Shionoiri.

Designed for participants of all ages and levels of experience, the workshops that are part of the public programme will provide many opportunities to develop visitors’ skills and broaden their art practices. Ranging from one-hour to three-day sessions, they explore a variety of topics including glass making, block printing, mud brick architecture, reformulating ‘sadu’, and scenography. Misk Art Institute will also lend their expertise to the Biennale’s timetable with multiple skill-building workshops designed for adults and youth.

For dedicated art enthusiasts, a series of masterclasses will be delivered by the Sotheby’s Institute of Art and Urban Arts Projects. These three-day masterclasses are specialised courses designed to help artists and art professionals propel their growth within the arts and culture sector. These classes are set to cultivate theoretical and practical skills that are vital to the Kingdom's art scene today such as Art Law, Public Art Production, Arts Management and Presenting Yourself in the Art World.

“We are excited to welcome all audiences to the Biennale and to invite them to explore visual culture from Saudi Arabia and beyond. Our programmes are a crucial part of that invitation and have been designed to provide an inclusive and empowering experience for everyone,” Aya Al-Bakree, DBF’s CEO, said. “We hope that the activities and conversations will provide both local and international visitors with exceptional opportunities to make discoveries, excite their curiosity, and stimulate their creativity.”

In partnership with the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, the public programme will feature school visits that aim to promote greater integration of art and culture in the daily life and learning of local students. With specially developed educational kits, these visits will play a vital role in enhancing the next generation’s understanding and interest in art. Teachers’ kits and training programmes will also be launched as part of this strategic goal to empower the educators and tour guides interacting with students and to ensure the continuity of knowledge transfer beyond the Biennale walls.

The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale’s programme is designed to inspire creative dialogue across cultures while benefiting the local ecosystem and laying the foundation for long-lasting audience engagement. The programme draws inspiration from art and culture in the Kingdom and beyond, making educational explorations easier. The agenda also incorporates knowledge sharing and best practices with access to leading voices in the field.

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