With exhibitions and art fairs cancelled due to coronavirus, the art world has taken a massive hit and the region is no exception. In Dubai, Alserkal Avenue—the city’s biggest gallery district—has come to a complete halt, with many of its galleries having closed in the face of the pandemic.
Although the area has gone quiet, the organisation behind it is coming to its rescue, with businessowners having been granted a three-month rent waiver.
The move comes after all of Alserkal Avenue’s events and exhibitions having been cancelled, including Alserkal Art Week, Cinema Akil’s film screening, and Concrete’s exhibition New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives.
With exhibitions having moved online, to circumvent the loss of income for business owners that has come with the decision to go digital, Alserkal Avenue launched a “Pay It Forward” programme that grants them a three-month rent waiver.
Business owners in the Dubai creative hub were asked to apply for a subsidy that would be granted in exchange for community support. This means that businessowners must propose different ways to help each other or members of the public. According to Vilma Jurkute, Alserkal’s director, the ‘Pay it Forward’ program has already seen the community share knowledge with one another, give charitable donations, and commission freelancers.
“This was a collective agreement. We understand the importance of sharing success and sharing the loss, too. We are looking at this from a community aspect,” Jurkute said.