UNESCO announces US$ 100,000 financing towards the development of the creative industries in Lebanon

On a mission to Beirut almost 3 years after the deadly port explosions, UNESCO Director of the Culture and Emergencies Krista Pikkat announced the financing of US$ 100,000 in support of the cultural and creative industries outside the Lebanese Capital. The investment in the vital sector is made through UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, a multi-donor mechanism established in 2015 to enable rapid response to protect culture in emergency.

“This funding allows UNESCO to provide emergency support to artists and cultural entities in Beirut through grants, so they can continue producing cultural productions. It complements our ongoing Lebanon Financing Facility (LFF)-funded BERYT project,” said Krista Pikkat. “Culture offers inspiration, education, and a sense of pride to people. We are confident that the relentless efforts, strong cooperation and shared vision among partners will ensure the continuation of cultural life across Lebanon.”

The Director visited the Sursock Palace, a historical heritage building in the heart of Beirut which was heavily impacted by the Port explosions, to monitor the progress of the ongoing rehabilitation works undertaken by the UNESCO Beirut Office. The project is an integral part of LiBeirut, a UNESCO flagship initiative launched shortly after the explosions to ensure that culture and heritage serve as pillars of recovery efforts.

The work is being carried out in partnership with – and with the financial support of – the Swiss Federal Office of Culture and the Sursock Palace Association. The Director was accompanied by the Minister of Culture, Mr. Mohammad Mourtada, the Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon Dr. Marion Weichelt, and the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut, Ms. Costanza Farina for a tour inside the Palace that showcased the restoration works in its final stages.

The Minister of Culture, Mohamed Mortada, said: “The involvement of the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, in cooperation with UNESCO, to restore the beauty of the Sursock Palace goes beyond the restoration of stones, considering its importance. It extends to the restoration of the cultural and civilizational role of Lebanon, which was and still is a homeland to beauty coming from all over the world.”

He added: “The Sursock Palace is the conscience and the heart of Lebanese culture. From its architecture, diversity flows, dialogue springs, and beauty hangs, amidst crowds meeting around art and literature. Its return to life soon with the support of partners is an act of faith.”
“With the example of the Sursock Palace, Switzerland has demonstrated the importance it attaches to the protection and preservation of Beirut’s cultural heritage. With a commitment that began in 2021 and continued with funding from its Federal Office of Culture, Switzerland is proud to see today the progress made in the rehabilitation of the Palace. We will continue our efforts to see this emblematic place restored and opened to the public”, said the Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon Dr. Marion Weichelt.

Pikkat also represented the UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay at the reopening ceremony of the Sursock Museum, which had been severely damaged by the blasts. The generous €1 million funding by Italy had allowed UNESCO to complete complex structural rehabilitation works over the two-year project period, and to pave the way for the reopening of the museum. Speaking at the ceremony, she said: “The Sursock Museum holds a special place in the hearts of the Beiruti. UNESCO is proud to have contributed to the rehabilitation of the iconic institution.”

The Director was also received by the Prime Minister, Mr. Najib Mikati, whom she thanked for his continued support of UNESCO in the areas of culture, education and media. Pikkat also noted that the Conservation Management Plan for the Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli is being finalized following its inscription as a World Heritage site in danger in January 2023.