Horsh Beirut cel­e­brates cul­ture for all

Free cul­tural fes­ti­val opens public park to all, with some­thing to do for every­one

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - ARTS & CULTURE - IN­TER­VIEW By Maghie Ghali Horsh Beirut Fes­ti­val will take place June 23-24, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Horsh Beirut, Tayy­ouneh en­trance. For full pro­gram visit ass­abil.com; lb.boell.org

BEIRUT: Horsh Beirut Fes­ti­val is set to hold its 8th edi­tion this sum­mer, stag­ing a free cul­tural fes­ti­val at the sculpted “pine for­est” that is once again a semi-public park.

Also known as Fes­ti­val du Bois des Pins, the an­nual event will this year of­fer a lineup of mu­sic, theater and dance performances, along­side work­shops and mouneh prod­ucts (pre­served sea­sonal foods) by Souk el Tayeb, from June 23-24.

Founded in 2011 by ASS­ABIL, an NGO pro­mot­ing free and un­lim­ited ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, the event is this year part­ner­ing with the Hein­rich Boell Foun­da­tion – the Ger­man Green Party foun­da­tion pro­mot­ing sus­tain­abil­ity, democ­racy and hu­man rights.

“The fes­ti­val will fea­ture a va­ri­ety of mu­si­cians and per­for­mance artists,” the foun­da­tion’s pro­gram and fi­nance man­ager Corinne Deek told The Daily Star. “It will also fea­ture sev­eral groups that are ac­tively in­volved in en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­ci­etal mat­ters and of­fer a large range of ac­tiv­i­ties for the youth.

“The pro­gram is de­signed in a way to tar­get women, men, youths, kids from all back­grounds, classes, re­gions,” she added.

“The fes­ti­val is free and there­fore also ac­ces­si­ble for peo­ple who could other­wise not go to such events, set­ting it apart from other fes­ti­vals which are of­ten ex­pen­sive.”

The fes­ti­val’s lo­ca­tion at Horsh Beirut is a sig­nif­i­cant state­ment, ac­cord­ing to Deek, as one of its goals is to have open public spa­ces for all.

“Horsh Beirut is the largest and most im­por­tant green space in Beirut,” Deek ex­plained.

“It was closed to the public un­til re­cently and the Beirut mu­nic­i­pal­ity still makes it dif­fi­cult to ac­cess through re­stricted open­ing hours and a lack of care and main­te­nance.

“It gives the peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to ac­cess the park and aims to at­tract peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­ground,” she added, “demon­strat­ing to Beirut mu­nic­i­pal­ity that hav­ing vis­i­tors in­side parks and pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment are not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.”

High­lights of this year’s pro­gram in­clude ori­en­tal con­certs from Le­banese singer-song­writer Sami Hawat and Al Ra­hala and vo­cal­ist Nis­rine Hmaidan, a per­for­mance of Hanane Hajj Ali’s award-win­ning theater piece “Jog­ging,” and a sto­ry­telling event themed on love and free­dom by Ji­had Dar­wiche.

There will also be “chil­dren’s work­shops and shows by Clown Me In and Cirquen­ciel,” Deek elab­o­rated, “a pup­pet show by Les Amis des Mar­i­on­nettes, and a bag­pipers’ con­cert by Beit At­fal As­sumoud/Na­tional Pales­tinian Scouts.”

A theater per­for­mance ti­tled “Ayy­oube” and di­rected by Awad Awad is also set to take place, telling a bi­o­graph­i­cal story of a Pales­tinian woman in a Le­banese refugee camp.

Walk­a­bout Drum Cir­cle will also be offering a work­shop and demon­stra­tion of per­cus­sion from West African songs and rhythms.

“Sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions and groups will be run­ning ac­tiv­i­ties in their stands that will be placed in the cen­ter of the park such as the quiz on coastal ar­eas and ma­rine life in Le­banon ti­tled ‘How well do you re­ally know,’ by The Civil Cam­paign to Pro­tect the Dalieh of Raouche, a draw­ing and col­lage work­shop on public spa­ces for chil­dren by Lit­tle Agenda and guided tours of Horsh Beirut by NAHNOO.”

This year marks the 8th edi­tion of the cul­tural fes­ti­val.

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