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Prospector Newsletter - Issue #7

Dear readers,Last month I was on a round tour - Beirut, Cairo and Alexandria and back to Amsterdam –

Prospector Newsletter

March 22 · Issue #7 · View online
Where media, culture and business meet around the Middle East

Dear readers,
Last month I was on a round tour - Beirut, Cairo and Alexandria and back to Amsterdam – for meeting prospectors, entrepreneurs, people from funds and ngo’s. Below you will find some of my experiences and findings.
Besides: the weather was enjoyable in the Southern part of the Mediterranean Sea. I hope Spring will arrive soon in Europe too!
All the best,
Monique Doppert

Welcoming security check
The Dutch embassy in Cairo used to have a stylish metal fence, with hand painted ceramic beads attached to it. Responsible for this elegant design is Royal Tichelaar. (est. 1572). Also there was a well-used announcement board clipped to the fence. Next to the gate was a chipboard guardhouse with its top painted in red, white and blue stripes; the colours of the Dutch flag.
The fence is still there, but now hidden behind a grey wall of unwelcoming concrete blocks. Only the top floor is still visible. There is a narrow opening through which the visitor can reach for the bell. The security personnel – who do not speak English - will let you wait outside, enclosed by concrete, until they have checked your appointment.
Of course, the complicated security situation requires robust measurements. But have a good look at the security check - before customs - at Schiphol airport. Here the security measures are implemented with a brilliant combination of efficiency, smooth even relaxed and polite service. This concept – truly export worthy – could be an excellent example for the Dutch embassies. Because it might be rewarding to keep at least a minimum standard of hospitality. As physical business card of the Netherlands, so to speak. From the idea you can only make a first impression once.
But do not despair. I learned - through the grapevine – a team of Dutch and Egyptian graffiti artists will work on this wall together in the near future. I cannot wait to see the first photos of the freshly painted wall.
the old situation
the old situation
Less stress
Not every creative entrepreneur is ready for early stage funding rounds. Or maybe the organisation is not yet sufficiently structured for venture capital funding. Start-ups can go also through an intermediary funding discipline to get extra cash into their ventures. Have a look at this useful list – published on Wamda - of grant opportunities that put less stress on the shoulders of debuting companies, thanks to more tolerant and permissive granting conditions. Though difficult to find, these grants – with themes as youth, health and innovation - would be a way to kick-off a start-up’s funding path.
Next expert meeting
The second Prospector expert meeting will be about sustainability and growth of creative entrepreneurship. We all know them personally, the artists and creatives jumping from one grant to another, from festival or exhibition to residence programme. Apart from this being an exhausting lifestyle, one thing is clear: financial sustainability is scarce in the creative sector. What are the economic needs of a cultural entrepreneur across the different phases of a project and what are the financial options? This will be discussed with a round table of experts. A summary will be published in the Summer edition of this newsletter.
Feminine robot
Cairo’s Creative Industry Summit is gearing up to begin this April, bringing along a stellar speaker - though this time, she’s a robot. Sophia, Hanson Robotics’ most prolific humanoid robot - which made worldwide headlines when she was appointed a citizen of Saudi Arabia - is bound to land in Egypt to participate at the annual conference for the creative industry.
Cairo's Creative Industry Summit Is Bringing Humanoid Robot Sophia to Egypt
Experimental Culture
Many of today’s major institutions were around decades ago. Predictions that live performance would be replaced by digital and that millions would make a living thanks to the ‘long tail’ - as platforms like YouTube made it possible for producers to find niche audiences - have not yet materialised.
Innovation foundation Nesta undertook a rapid horizon scan to support the development of Arts Council England’s ten-year strategy, with the intent of provoking a conversation with arts and cultural organisations about the changing context for their work.

1. Open culture
The Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship awards $50,000 + support to outstanding individuals developing open culture in their communities.
This unique and life-changing fellowship promotes the values important to Bassel’s work and life: open culture, radical sharing, free knowledge, remix, collaboration, courage, optimism, and humanity.
Applications due March 24th.

Four years ago I published the longread Behind the screens of the Syrian Resistance. It tells the story of Bassel, the young Syrian entrepreneur and software programmer who grows into a spider in the web of the revolution.
2. Design & the City
‘Beirut Design Week has pioneered in establishing the Lebanese capital as a regional center of attraction for design, thus, contributing to the growth of the design and makers’ community. Today, the challenge is different. As design is changing to become a more accessible and cross-disciplinary tool, our job is to create a more sustainable platform that meets this change,’ according to Ghassan Salameh, the new BDW managing and creative director.
Being a participant puts you at the forefront of the Lebanese contemporary design scene and an active contributor to Lebanon’s creative economy. Beirut Design Week (22 – 29 June) is open to all designers, studios, companies, galleries, and institutions that would like to organize an event to the public. This event could be an exhibition, an open studio, a tour, a talk, a workshop, a film screening, a competition or a networking event. Deadline for application: 5 April.
3. Dance in Lebanon
TAKWEEN is an intensive dance-training programme for young artists who are serious about pursuing professional careers in contemporary dance. This full-time intensive training program takes place at Maqamat Beit El Raqs, Lebanon. Deadline 20th March.
4. Photography course
Photography Workshop | Skillz Beirut
5.  International cultural management
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Arts & Cultural Management is a new, interdisciplinary course of studies in international cultural management. It is developed by the Leuphana Professional School in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut.
The programme offers Arts & Cultural Management in several variants and so allows for adaptation to individual training needs. It is also possible to take individual modules. Prerequisites for the study include a first professional qualification in the form of a university degree and good English language skills. The programme begins in October 2018 Apply until 31 July 2018.
6. True Stories
Who are the epic storytellers of our time, the new European Ryszard Kapuścińskis? And what novel journalistic storytelling forms have been on the rise in Europe? The  8th conference on narrative journalism focuses on European storytelling.
What are the stories of our time? What are the stories that are being told by journalists all over the European continent? See and hear the work of great speakers on the night before the conference, and get inspired.
April 19: Show and Tell – April 20: Conference
7. Radio in Beirut
The Outpost & Mansion are starting a communal radio project to produce and transmit creations and knowledge stemming from their individual and collective practices. From Mansion’s vicinity in Beirut to the rest of the world, this radio project is an attempt to enhance Mansion as an initiative dedicated to the public and to produce new narratives from and about the city. If you’re interested to know more or collaborate, email Ibrahim Nehme (
8. Womentum’s accelerator programme
This programme will support Mena’s early stage tech start-ups with at least one female founder. It will kick off the 1st of July in Berlin, and in two weeks tech and innovation experts from Impact Hub Berlin will be focusing on your business, your product development as well as your business model. Look here for more information.
9. IDFA Bertha Fund
The IDFA Bertha Fund supports documentary film makers in and from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe by offering them financial contributions to develop and realize their projects. The fund is looking for new creative documentary projects from these regions, that use a strong visual approach to tell compelling stories and have the potential to reach a global audience.
The deadline to submit a project for the last selection round of 2018 is May 15. For the online entry form and submission visit the IDFA website.
10. Preview
To conclude this Newsletter: a trailer of a soon to be released film From beneath the earth that beautifully documents the Palestinian indie music scene. Again a great project of Majal (former MideastYouth). ‘With courage and in an innovative way, Majal addresses issues that receive little or no attention: from rights of the invisible lower income migrant workers, to the stigmatized Middle East LGBTQ community, to those seeking to express dissent through music.’

From Beneath the Earth - من تحت الأرض on Vimeo
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