Giving a Hand to Young Artists

A Jordanian Radio Station Hosts Fair to Help Promote New Visual Talent

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Promoting local artists, Jordanian radio station Sunny 105.1 FM recently hosted a weeklong art fair, inviting dozens of visual artists to display their work. At the same time, the station joined with telecom company Kulacom to host a competition, which ran through December and will award a cash prize to the entrant who gets the most votes, with the winner to be named Jan. 17. The winner will receive JD 1,000, the equivalent of U.S. $1,400.

According to the radio station, young visual artists in Amman, the Jordanian capital, lack outlets for displaying their talent despite the increase in the number of galleries through the last decade. Seeing this void in the culture scene, the station decided to try to fill it.

"In the five years since we launched our first radio station, we've been exposed to inspiring artists, singers and bands whose voices are record-worthy, and all sorts of creative types who need a platform from which to shine," says Ramzi Halaby, co-founder of Modern Media, the parent company of Sunny 105.1. "Every time I've met with one of these talents, I've been reminded of the frustration and challenge of not having the right environment to thrive. Through events like the Sunny Art Fair, we're determined to promote and enhance the local arts and culture scene, and to create that environment for them."

For the art fair, the station started by renting an entire floor of a local mall in Amman and converting it into a gallery.

The event drew almost 4,500 people, including 1,500 who attended the opening. In addition, 11 top art galleries took part, giving the 30 local artists exposure to well-known buyers in the market. By the end of the show, all the artists had sold at least half of their exhibited work, even though many were exhibiting for the first time.

In addition, the station partnered with a local restaurateur, Azzam Fakherldin, to create an arts café at the exhibit to offer the "coffee crowd" – local youth who hang out at cafés with free Internet access – the opportunity to become arts patrons.

The station also set up a "kids' zone," bringing in art instructors to teach basic techniques to children ranging in age from 1 to early teens.

In polls about the fair, attendees told the station that they were unaware of the level of local talent and that the fair was inspiring. One university student said he had always wanted to pursue art but thought there would never be an appreciation for talent.

"The Sunny Art Fair not only gave some of the lesser-known artists a chance to promote and profit from their work, but I believe the artists that displayed their work also planted the seeds of inspiration for younger talents to pursue their own dreams," Halaby says. "We definitely will continue using our position as the market leader in radio to promote budding talent."

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