During the Introductory Session, 24-28 February 2021 from Elefsina/Greece (ONLINE) and Module III in Beirut 27 November - 1 December, participants were guided by expert art/cultural managers, festival leaders, artists, cultural activists, and people from different fields of action such as the social, political, technological field coming from across the globe. Experts were present throughout the Atelier to share their rich experiences and guided participants throughout the Atelier. Participants also met and exchanged with several guest speakers from the region. You can find a list of the experts present at these training modules below.

Mentors and Speakers


  • Mike Van Graan – Playwright, project manager at Sustaining Theatre and Dance (STAND) Festival – South Africa

Mentors and group leaders

  • Angeliki Lampiri - Director of Cultural Training Eleusis 2023 – Greece
  • Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski – Co-curator Lokomotiva Festival for contemporary art and performance in Skopje – Macedonia
  • Eckhard Thiemann – Artistic Director Shubbak Festival – London/MENA
  • Lina Attel – Founder, Director General The National Center for Culture and Performing Arts - Jordan
  • Rania Kamhawi - Senior Programme Development Manager and Director Amman Contemporary Dance Festival  – Jordan
  • Roy Luxford – Production Manager Edinburgh International Festival – UK
  • Yolanda Markopoulou – Director and Creative Producer Greece / Polyplanity Productions, Mind the Fact - Greece


  • Ahmed Tobasi – Artistic Director The Freedom Theatre – Palestine
  • Aurelien Zouki – Actor, choreographer and performer, co-director “Nehna wel Amar wel Jiran” outdoor festival in Beirut, Collectif Kahraba – Lebanon
  • Carole Gürtler – Head Department Levant, Drosos Foundation (Zurich) – Switzerland
  • Christos Carras – Executive Director Onassis Cultural Centre – Greece
  • Dea Vidović – Director Kultura Nova – Croatia
  • Dijana Milošević – Theatre director, co-founder and artistic director DAH Theatre – Serbia
  • Ellada Evangelou – Artistic and Cultural Director Buffer Fringe Festival and member of IMPACT’s Leadership Circle – Cyprus
  • Erifili Giannakopoulou - Opera singer/director/teacher - Greece
  • Hamza Boulaiz – CEO and Artistic Director "Spectacle Pour Tous" – Morocco
  • Hooman Nassimi - Founder of Society in Motion and the New Faces toolkit -  Netherlands
  • Konstantinos Tzathas – Programming Research Coordinator ONASSIS Foundation – Greece
  • Mety Panagiotopoulou - Performing arts researcher and practitioner - Greece
  • Michail Marmarinos – Artistic Director 2023 ELEVSIS – Greece
  • Mohamad Hamdan – Production Manager Zoukak Theatre Company – Lebanon
  • Nabil Canaan – Director Station Beirut – Lebanon
  • Omar Abi Azar – Theatre Director and founder Zoukak Theater Company – Lebanon
  • Ouafa Belgacem – Founder and CEO Culture Funding Watch – Tunisia
  • Serhan Ada – Professor Cultural policies and management, Cultural diversity, Art practice and criticism Istanbul Bilgi University – Turkey

Cross-sector experts

  • Milena Gehrt – Project Manager – ArtEvolution
  • Helena Nassif - Director of Culture Resource – Lebanon


Mike Van Gran

Playwright, project manager at Sustaining Theatre and Dance (STAND) Festival – South Africa

Mike van Graan, founder of the African Cultural Policy Network, has served in leadership positions in a variety of anti-apartheid cultural organisations such as the Congress of South African Writers and the National Arts Coalition of South Africa. He is also an award-winning playwright, who has written thirty plays to this date. He was appointed as Artscape’s Associate Playwright from 2011-2014 and is considered one of South Africa’s leading contemporary playwrights.

He is the 2018 recipient of the Sweden-based Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award in recognition of his contribution to the fight against apartheid, building a post-apartheid society, and the interface of peace and culture both in South Africa and across the African continent.

You can read his full bio here.


Angeliki Lampiri

Director of Cultural Training 2023 Eleusis ECoC - Greece

Born in Athens. Economist, specialized in the design, implementation and evaluation of European projects, with a focus on culture, capacity building, networking and social innovation. Currently, she is Director of Cultural Training in 2023 Eleusis – European Capital of Culture, after joining the team in the second phase of the bidding process for the ECoC title in 2016. She is project manager of a wide range of 2023 Eleusis projects, designed to build capacities in cultural and local communities as well as she is taking care of the international relations. She has studied Cultural and Artistic Events’ Management in Florence and graduated in Finance & Banking Administration in Athens.

Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski

Co-curator Lokomotiva Festival for contemporary art and performance in Skopje – Macedonia

Biljana Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski is a cultural producer, curator and researcher, an active part of the independent art and culture scene in North Macedonia. She is a co-founder and executive director of Lokomotiva – Centre for New Initiatives in Arts and Culture, co-founder of Nomad Dance Academy (NDA), Locomotion festival for contemporary dance and performance (2008-2015) and Kino Kultura (KK) - project space for contemporary performing arts and culture. With Lokomotiva she also co-founded Jadro - Association of the Independent Cultural Scene. Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski is committed to initiating, curating and managing diverse projects and programs. Some of her latest projects include “Dissonant (co)spaces”; “Cultural Spaces for Active Citizens” (see publication), the “Art, Politics, Institution, Body” curatorial program and ongoing research on issues of cultural workers’ rights, public spaces and institutions in culture. She has worked as a consultant of the European Cultural Foundation and European Commission. 

Tanurovska-Kjulavkovski is the author of various texts, (co)editor of numerous publications, journals and books. She has been a guest lecturer at different programs, as well as universities. From 2011-2020 she has been working as visiting professor at the Faculty of Music Arts in Skopje. She holds a BA in the History of Art and Archaeology, an MSc in Interculturalism, Cultural Management and Cultural Policy from the University of Arts in Belgrade, and PhD from the Faculty of Drama Arts in Belgrade. In 2019, she won the ENCATC International Research Award on Cultural Policy and Cultural Management for her doctoral thesis.

Ekchard Thiemann

Artistic Director  Shubbak Festival – London/ Mena

Eckhard Thiemann is a programmer, specialising in contemporary Arab culture, dance, internationalism and festivals. He is Artistic Director  & CEO of Shubbak, London’s largest festival of contemporary Arab culture and recipient of the 2019 UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. Shubbak 2019 presented over 60 events in over 30 venues, reaching an audience of more than 50,000 people. He is also is Programming Associate – Dance for The Lowry.  

Eckhard chaired the selection committee of Surf The Wave UK Showcase 2019. He is recipient of the One Dance UK Award 2019 for Outstanding Dance Programming Award. Previous positions include Associate Artistic Curator for CODA - Oslo International Dance Festival, Creative Producer for Siobhan Davies Dance, producer for the London 2012 Festival, curator for Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival 2011. He curated OUTSPOKEN – NEW PERFORMANCE FROM ARAB ARTISTS in Birmingham in 2010, African Crossroads for Dance Umbrella in 2009 and the opening season of Pavilion Dance. 

Lina Attel

Founder, Director General of The National Center for Culture and Performing Arts of the King Hussein Foundation – Jordan

Lina Attel is recognised for her pioneering role in introducing drama into mainstream education and the enhancement of the performing arts movement in Jordan, where she established the first National Interactive Theatre Troupe (NITT) in 1989. NITT produces issue-based plays focusing on audience participation related to Women Empowerment, Reproductive Health, Gender-Based Violence and Radicalization of Vulnerable Youth.

She has expanded the access to theatre by both developing programs with national and international organisations and in cooperation with public authorities and working at the grassroots level. The programs have brought theatre into education, fostered mutual understanding between people of diverse backgrounds, and emphasised the role of theatre in shaping opinion and impacting social change.

As a theatre practitioner she conceived and directed several musicals and interactive plays on social issues, amongst them the musical play "Petra Rocks" which was premiered in 2009 under the Patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II; the Musical play “Walking the Winds: Arabian Tales” which was co-produced with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Washington DC. In 2006, in addition to directing "Opera Abu Hassan" by Carl-Maria Von Weber with the participation of artists from France, Lebanon, Moldavia & Jordan.

She designed the Theater Arts Curriculum for the establishment of the Arts & Design College of Jordan University in 2002 as well as Drama in Education guidebooks for teachers for the Ministry of Education. Currently, she serves as a member of the Higher Committee for developing National Curriculum in performing arts for public schools.

Recipient of the "Al Hussein Medal for Distinction of the First Order for distinguished achievement in the field of theatre" in the year 2000 and the International Prize Grozdanin Kikot, from the Center for Drama Education, Mostar Theater, Bosnia & Herzegovina -Contribution to the Development of Drama Education, 2000.

Rania Kamhawi

Senior Programme Development Manager and Director of the annual Amman Contemporary Dance Festival – Jordan

Rania Kamhawi is the Senior Programme Development and International Relations Manager at the National Centre for Culture and Arts (NCCA) of King Hussein Foundation since 1997. During this time, she has been responsible for creating and developing sustainable arts programs, attaining grants to maintain the financial sustainability of NCCA and developing long term partnerships with donors and organization working within the fields of social development, culture and arts.

She has also been the Director of the Amman Contemporary Dance Festival since 2008, an annual regional festival of MASAHAT Dance Network, encompassing Lebanon; Palestine, Syria and Jordan. She is the Director of NCCA Dance Department and artistic director of MISK Dance Company.

Rania holds an advanced degree specialising in teaching from the Royal Academy of Dance and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance in the UK with Distinction and is credited with establishing professional dance training in Jordan. 

Roy Luxford

Production Manager Edinburgh International Festival – UK

Roy Luxford ran three of the UK's foremost producing companies Cheek by Jowl, Michael Clark Company, and DV8 Physical Theatre, and produced the European premiere of Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul in London, and the world premiere of Tim Supple's One Thousand and One Nights in Toronto.

He then worked as a London based independent producer of dance, theatre and music-theatre. Working mainly on international productions, he has collaborated with leading London venues, the Barbican and Sadler's Wells Theatre and numerous presenters around the world, including Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Lincoln Center, Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival, Chekhov Festival Moscow, and the Venice Biennale.

Roy is Programme Director at the Edinburgh International Festival. In this role he is responsible for producing and delivering the annual three-week multi art-form festival.

He is a member of UK Theatre (formerly TMA) and the International Society for the Performing Arts.

Yolanda Markopoulou

Director and Creative Producer, Greece / Polyplanity Productions, Mind the Fact

Since 2007, Yolanda Markopoulou has directed over twenty plays and short films. Since 2008, she is the director of the refugee and immigrant theatre group Station Athens. The performance We Are the Persians! (Athens Festival, ISPA NYC, International Theatre of Finland) was presented internationally and the site-specific performances I_LEFT and I_LEFT ASIA MINOR were presented as part of the Eleusis 2021 Cultural Capital of Europe program, with which she maintains a steady artistic collaboration until 2023. She has also co-directed the performances I_the player, (2016, KETHEA Festival, Onassis Cultural Center) and Rouletenburg (2017, Hotel Ermou, mind the fact Festival), as well as the performance Lucky Strike (2019, Art Athina)  by The Gamblers theatre group consisting of men who were addicted to gambling in the past.

She is the co-founder and curator alongside with Ioanna Valsamidou of Mind the fact, a cultural initiative aiming to present “true stories told by the people who have experienced them”.  Since spring of 2020, she is the creative producer and artistic partner for Greece of the international artistic project/festival The Walk.  She has run POLYPLANITY Productions since 2007, a production company for theatre, film and interdisciplinary projects. She was the co-producer in Asia’s Argento’s The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (Cannes Festival, Director’s Fortnight) and the producer of Spyros Stathoulopoulos’ Meteora (Berlinale 2012, Official Competition). She collaborates with the Onassis Cultural Center, Greek Festival and other major cultural institutions and has produced Homers’ ILIAD by Stathis Livathinos, a Greek large-scale theatre production that toured internationally.

In 2011 she was nominated for the Eleftheria Sapountzi Prize for ‘best woman theatre professional’. She has a degree in Film from Boston University’s College of Communication. 


Ahmed Tobasi

Artistic Director The Freedom Theatre – Palestine

Ahmed Tobasi is an accomplished actor, director and educator with experience working in Palestinian & International theatres. Born in Jenin refugee camp in Palestine, restricted and frustrated by the occupation, Tobasi joined the armed resistance and was in prison before his 18th birthday. Four years later upon his release, Ahmed began his career and training as an actor and director.

After 2 years studying at The Freedom Theatre, Tobasi undertook further education in Norway, followed by a 3- year professional career abroad predominately working in The Nordic Black Theatre’s professional company.

Tobasi is currently working as an actor, director and teacher at The Freedom Theatre, Palestine and continues to act in international productions sharing the Palestinian experiences and narrative with new audiences.

Aurélien Zouki

Actor, choreographer and performer, co-founder Collectif Kahraba and co-director Nehna wel Amar wel Jiran festival - Lebanon

Founding member and co-artistic director Aurélien Zouki studied theatre in Paris, where he worked as an actor with different directors such as Gilles Zaeppfel, Bruno Thircuir, Jean Bellorini, and Nathalie Garraud. He has also participated in choreographic creations in France and Italy, where he was a performer with Rafaella Giordano. In 2007, he moved back to Beirut and co-founded Collectif Kahraba, with whom he created several theatre, dance, and puppet performances (Landscape of our tears, Origin of a Tale), that toured in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Qatar, Russia, Romania, UK, France, Belgium, Japan, Germany, and Switzerland... Always interested in body language and all forms of dance expression, Aurélien participated in mask, butoh, and contemporary dance workshops in Europe and Lebanon. In 2010, he took part in Takween Contemporary Dance Intensive Training. Since 2011, he has also been the co-director of Nehna wel Amar wel Jiran, a multidisciplinary outdoor festival organized by Collectif Kahraba. Aurélien’s path has also led him to give workshops to all kinds of groups, amateurs or professionals, as well as marginalized populations or domestic workers in different contexts all around Lebanon. In parallel to his artistic activities, he attended several workshops and training sessions in cultural management.

Carole Gürtler

Head Department Levant, Drosos Foundation (Zurich) – Switzerland

As Head of Department Levant at Drosos Foundation, Carole Gürtler manages programmes focusing on creative and artistic activities for young people and the establishment of creative spaces to improve access to and provide opportunities for creative skills enhancement in Lebanon, Jordan and the broader region. Professionals in the creative sector receive the possibility to develop their professional careers. Stakeholders are empowered to promote a vibrant creative sector. Following studies in history of art, history and journalism, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor specialized on culture and arts. She completed postgraduate courses in Museum Sciences and in NPO Management

Christos Carras

Executive Director Onassis Cultural Centre – Greece

Christos Carras was born in London (UK) in 1962. He read philosophy at Cambridge University and then at the Sorbonne where he earned his PhD. From 2000 onwards, he has been working in the cultural sector, initially as the Project Manager of the EU funded MediMuses network. In 2006 he became General Manager of the B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music. 

In 2009 he joined the Onassis Foundation as the Executive Director of the Onassis Cultural Centre. He is responsible for the music program and other interdisciplinary projects, developing European networks and the overall coordination of the Centre.

Dea Vidović

 Director Cultura Nova – Croatia

Dea Vidović is a Director of Kultura Nova Foundation, a public foundation dedicated to civil society organisations in Croatia's contemporary arts and culture scene. She graduated in Comparative Literature and Indian Studies and earned a PhD in 2012 from the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. For more of twenty years of her professional engagement in culture & cultural policy, civil society and philanthropy, she worked as a manager, editor, journalist and researcher. She is currently an ENCATC Board member, Vice-Chair of Arts & Culture Thematic Network of EFC – European Foundation Centre as well as Advisory Board member of OpenHeritage project.

Dijana Milošević

Director, DAH Theatre Research Center; Professor, Institute for Modern Dance, Belgrade - Serbia

Dijana Milošević is an award-winning theatre director, writer and lecturer. She co-founded DAH Theatre Research Center in Belgrade, Serbia and has been its leading director for thirty years.

She was the Artistic Director for theatre festivals, was the president of the Association of the Independent Theatres and president of the board of BITEF Theatre, and a board member of national ITI. Being involved with several peace building initiatives and collaborating with feminists -activists groups she also serves as a member of the Leadership Circle at IMPACT.

She has directed theatre shows with her company and toured them nationally and internationally as well as directed the work with other companies all over the world.

She is a well-known lecturer and has taught at prestigious Universities, writes articles and essays about theatre. She is recipient of prestigious fellowships (Fulbright, Arts Link) and is the Professor at Institute for Modern Dance in Belgrade.

Ellada Evangelou

Artistic and Cultural Director of the Buffer Fringe Festival and a member of IMPACT's Leadership Circle – Cyprus

A native of Cyprus, Ellada Evangelou has studied in Cyprus and the United States (BA in English, MFA in Dramaturgy, PhD in Theatre Studies / Cultural Studies). She has worked as a dramaturge, theatre director, workshop facilitator, and independent consultant, in collaboration with theatre companies, NGOs and international organisations. She teaches theatre and dramaturgy in higher education in Cyprus and the USA. She is interested in the relationship between theatre and identity and works in the intersection of aRtivism and scholarship in post-colonial, post-conflict communities. She is co-founder of Rooftop Theatre, member of the Leadership Circle of the IMPACT Project, a global platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation, and the 2019 and 2020-21 Artistic and Executive Director of the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival, in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Erifili Giannakopoulou

Opera singer/director/teacher - Greece

Born in Athens, at the age of eighteen Erifili Giannakopoulou moved to Munich Germany to study opera with Kammersänger Joseph Metternich and Marilyn Schmiege. She continued her studies in opera in Paris at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris where she graduated in 2007 as a mezzo-soprano. In the meantime, she studied musicology at the universities Sorbonne Paris IV and Paris 8.

In 2008 she returned to Athens and created the company oper(o), one of the first independent opera companies in Greece which experiments with opera and music theatre. She has since created various performances both in major greek institutions as well as in alternative, non-theatrical spaces, and street performances. Their most recent performance was in January 2018 in the Alternative Stage of the National Opera of Greece, with the contemporary operatic creation “Orpheus”.

In 2011 she received the Fulbright Artists Scholarship and went to New York at the Manhattan School of Music to continue her work on opera. From 2011 to 2016 she directed the community theatre company of the KETHEA rehabilitation centre and since 2015 she teaches theatre in the International Baccalaureate of the Hellenic American Educational Foundation in Athens. In June 2016 she received a scholarship from the university of Barcelona to participate in the workshop and performance “Sobre la Memoria” of the company La Fura Dels Baus in Barcelona. Since 2017 she runs and directs two community theatre companies of amateur actors while in 2019 she directed for the Onassis Youth Festival in collaboration with the director M. Mpouziouri. She is a founding member of the WOM.A - Women in Arts initiative, for the support, empowerment and fight against gender discriminations of women in the arts in Greece.

Hamza Boulaiz

CEO and Artistic Director of "Spectacle Pour Tous" – Morocco

Originally from Tangier, Hamza Boulaiz is a graduate of the Regional Institute of Dramatic Art and Cultural Animation in Rabat, CEO and artistic director of the company ''Spectacle Pour Tous''. Hamza transmits his art to several private and public institutions, and is the former drama teacher at school group: ''The Irises Present: Hassania," School of Governance and Economics of Rabat.' 

Hamza is actively involved in finding solutions to make theatre accessible to all. Thus, in 2016, he developed a mobile theatre truck that now allows him to travel throughout the country. The establishment received an L-type ERP of the fifth category.    

In 2018 he participated in the Avignon festival with the same truck. Hamza has been invited to speak at the United Nations in New York and has been involved in the Teatro Piccolo de Milan, Sundance New York, Arab Theatre Festival in Sharjah, Lyric in London, Royal Theatre of Aman and Aji Tfarej workshops in Tangier. Following these experiences, Hamza opted for a new theatre.

For Hamza everything is played out from childhood. School and education are key solutions Spectacle Pour Tous focuses on, which is why it is particularly aimed at children and adolescents and offers workshops in primary and high schools. 

Hooman Nassimi

Founder of Society in Motion and the New Faces toolkit - Netherlands

Hooman Nassimi (born in Iran, raised in Germany, working in NL) commits to creating an inclusive society through & with newcomers, both locally and globally.  Hooman's vision is to empower newcomers through events and festivals and create social cohesion.

In 2018, the free New Faces toolkit was developed after seeing the enormous benefits of newcomer participation at cultural events. In the last two years, more than 2000 newcomers have directly participated in a variety of roles at the largest venues and festivals in the Netherlands. More and more cultural organizations are embracing this as the standard approach for newcomer inclusion.

Konstantinos Tzathas

Programming Research Coordinator ONASSIS Foundation – Greece

Konstantinos Tzathas was born in Athens in 1991. He holds a BA in Political Science and an MBA in Cultural Marketing. Currently, he serves as assistant to the Artistic Director of Athens & Epidaurus Festival. His job description entails research on local and international artists, production budget calculation, and the overall supervision and coordination of individual departments of the Festival. His previous work experience includes being employed as production manager in many Athens-based artistic productions, and collaborations with local and international artists and producers.

Mety Panagiotopoulou

Performing arts researcher and practitioner - Greece

Mety Panagiotopoulou is a performing arts researcher and practitioner. The main subject of her work is the improvisation methods and interactive processes. She holds a B.A. in Dance, a Legal Law Bachelor from the University of Athens and an MA in Research of Performing Arts from the University of Strasbourg. For the last 15 years, she has worked as a choreographer, artistic programmer, performer and teacher for numerous cultural and non-for-profit organizations, dance-theater groups and schools. From 2007 to 2018, she directed «Allahoo Performing Arts Company» [Allahoo means elsewhere] with which she created various projects. Since 2016, she is organizing the artistic events of «Giortes Rokkas» a festival that take place in the villages Rokka and Kera of Chania Crete every August. Last year she founded «Metaxoto» in Chania Crete, a cultural space dedicated to research and practice performing arts.

Michail Marmarinos

Artistic Director 2023 ELEVSIS – Greece

Michail Marmarinos is the Artistic director of 2023 ELEVSIS. He was born in Athens and has studied biology —with a focus on neurobiology—and Theater. His work is underpinned by two prime realizations: a) Theater is the art of mankind’s history; b) There isn't a single moment of everyday life that isn’t theater, once the proper gaze is present.

Outside Greece, productions of his have been staged—or traveled to international festivals—in Austria, Belgium, Venezuela, France, Germany, Georgia, Spain, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia and elsewhere.

Highlights include: “Die Hamletmaschine” (Heiner Muller, Thessaloniki—National Theatre of Northern Greece), “Camera degli sposi” (Yiorgos Veltsos), “Romanticism: Electra” (Sophocles, Epidaurus), “Hamlet—the snake bite” (Shakespeare), “Agamemnon: a ghost sonata” (Aeschylus, ATHENS/ Caracas/ Seoul/ Tbilisi/ Zurich), “Medeamaterial” (Heiner Muller, ATHENS / Tbilisi), “National Anthem, a Theorem of Togetherness” (ATHENS, Florence, Tbilisi, Moscow, Seoul), “I die as a country” (Dimitris Dimitriadis, ATHENS—Hellenic Festival / Vienna/ Brussels/ Warsaw), “Stalin: a conversation about Greek theatre” (in association with Akyllas Karazisis, ATHENS—National Theatre / Cologne), among others.

He has been invited to teach, to conduct workshops and to participate in symposia with presentations and talks in Athens, Alexandria, Amman, Berlin, Wroclaw, Zurich, Thessaloniki, Caracas, Corfu, Copenhagen, Crete, Los Angeles, Maastricht, Montreal, Moscow, Umbria, Prague, Seoul, Sydney, Tallinn, Tbilisi and elsewhere. Since 2006, he has been teaching in the School of Fine Arts at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 

Nabil Canaan

Director Station Beirut - Lebanon

Nabil Canaan is a Lebanese-swiss filmmaker, cultural producer and curator. He is the co-founder and director of Station art platform and initiator of the nextstop project. After an earlier career in international marketing and new media communication, his work for the past fifteen years has been driven by a documentary impulse and concern for the human condition through arts & culture. He has created short films for media organisations like the New York Times, designed capacity building programs and multimedia content for the un/development sector, ran a film production and post-production studio in Switzerland, and since 2013, is the co-founder and director of Station’s venue in Beirut and it’s international art projects.

Omar Abi Azar

Theatre Director and founder Zoukak Theater Company – Lebanon

Omar Abi Azar is a theatre director and founding member of Zoukak Theatre Company. He .was the dramaturge and director of several of Zoukak’s performances that toured in various cities in the Middle East, Europe, the United States, South America, South Asia and Africa.

He was commissioned by international festivals, theatres and universities to create original work: NYUAD’s Performing Arts Center, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center, University of Houston, Texas, Theaterfestival Schwindelfrei Mannheim, Williams College, Massachusetts, among others. He was artist in residence with Zoukak at the Lift Festival, London, Sundance Theatre Lab, Utah among others.

Since 2008, Omar leads psychosocial interventions with Zoukak, targeting various communities in different regions of Lebanon and abroad (in Serbia and in Calais’ Migrants’ Camp, France); giving drama-therapy workshops and creating collective performances with various groups.

Since 2013 he co-curates “Zoukak Sidewalks” an international performance festival, and “Focus Liban” a platform showcasing and supporting the work of artists residing in Lebanon.

Omar holds a BA in Theatre from the Lebanese University, Institute of Fine Arts (2006).

Ouafa Belgacem

Founder and CEO of Culture Funding Watch – Tunisia

Ouafa Belgacem is an expert in Resources Mobilization and sustainability, and a researcher interested in topics related to arts and culture funding, cultural policies and art financial engineering. She is the founder and CEO of Culture Funding Watch, the leading Cultural and Creative Industries financing intelligence platform in the MENA and Africa regions. CFW offers support to financers and CC entrepreneurs on how to strategises and raise resources. She is also the initiator of the the cultural and creative enterprises global index.

She holds four Masters degrees in History, Archaeology, MBA and Heritage Management.  She has work experience in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Prior to founding Culture Funding Watch, she worked with Oxfam GB as Regional Funding Coordinator in Myanmar and West Africa. Previously she worked with SNV in Laos as Senior Business Development Advisor and as Assistant to the Head of Finance and Contract Section for the European Commission Delegation in Cairo. Ouafa was also assigned as head of fundraising unit within the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt.

She is the writer of several global reports: UNESCO special report on creative economy 2013, Compendium of cultural policies in the Arab region 2010, CS report on 2005 convention 2019, Cultural policy in the MENA region (UNESCO) 2019. She is a board member of the CS interim steering committee for the UNESCO 2005 convention and Vice President of Tunisians startup association.

Serhan Ada

Professor Cultural policies and management, Cultural diversity, Art practice and criticism Istanbul Bilgi University – Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Serhan Ada is the Head of Art and Cultural Management Department, and Director of Cultural Policy and Management Research Center at İstanbul Bilgi University. He is also the Head of UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy and Cultural Diplomacy of the same university. Ada has been a visiting professor in various universities in Paris, Barcelona, Lyon, Beirut, Turin Hildesheim, Venice, Warwick and New Jersey. Ada is the chief editor of Cultural Policy Yearbook and the editor and writer of the book entitled Turkish Cultural Policy: A Civil Perspective (2011) focusing on the civil society’s perspective on cultural policy in Turkey as an alternative to the National Report. He works as an expert of the Culture Committee of UCLG. He also writes poetry and essays.


Milena Gehrt

Project Manager at Art Evolution - Lebanon/Germany

Milena Gehrt studied History and Culture of the Middle East at Freie Universität Berlin due to her passion for contemporary art and art history of the Islamic cultures. Her interest in art and politics, led her to focus her academic and professional pursuits on the cultural, aesthetic, social, and political contexts of the Middle East and the Arab world. Beirut is her second home. She arrived in Lebanon as a part of the festival team of Zoukak Theatre. The following two years, Milena worked as a project assistant for several festivals and exhibitions at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Being engaged with independent festivals in Berlin and Beirut, and the intention to be further involved in the practices of local art institutions, she moved back to Beirut. In the events and developments of the October 17 Uprising, Milena researched about reclaiming public spaces through art interventions. Milena is Project Co-Manager of ArtEvolution at Goethe-Institut and Graduate Student of Art History and Curating at the American University Beirut.

Helena Nassif

Director of Culture Resource - Lebanon

Helena Nassif is a multi-disciplinary researcher of culture. She is currently the managing director of Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy), a non-profit organization working on supporting the arts and culture sector in the Arab region and diaspora. Helena received her PhD in Media Studies from the University of Westminster in 2015. Her career extends culture and media research to years in the non-governmental sector, the development industry, program design and evaluation, grants management, adult training, and television and documentary film production.