The three week festival is bringing together and showcasing Arab cultures of 22 Arab nations. According to The Associated Press, 800 artists will be featured in the $10 million festival and it may be, “the largest presentation of Arab arts ever in the United States.”
Included are such exhibitions as cuisine, music, dance, art installations, film, fashion, literature and more.
Part of the goal in bringing “Arabesque” to the United States was to understand and recognize Arab people and culture rather than the images of war and terror and the politics attached.
Not only intended to unite American culture with Arab culture, the festival brings together various Arab cultures all the way from Morocco to Egypt to Lebanon to Iraq.
“Signing artists on to the festival turned out to be only the first level of complication,” reported Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post. Other troubles were getting past the language barrier when scouting out artists, and then trying to find individual’s homes. Communication was an issue as few signed-on members had phones or Internet access. Traveling was also difficult as the visa process took nine months to complete, and services to airports and back had to be scheduled.
Organizing the festival, the Kennedy Center partnered with the League of Arab States. Funding contributions were made by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, the HRH Foundation, and others.
Overall, it is hoped that people will leave with a better understanding of Arab culture and embrace a culture they may know little about.
Visit the News Hour Web site to watch a report and read its transcript about the festival.