The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, awarded the 15th edition of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture to Lebanese cultural organizer and curator, Christine Tohme, and the Argentinean nongovernmental Asociación Civil del Creciente Cine Fértil para la Promoción de la Diversidad Cultural during a ceremony held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 15 May 2018.
“It is through art that you support freedom of expression, creation and dissemination, allowing us to benefit from the artists' view of the world. You are the weavers of a web that supports the world,” said Audrey Azoulay.
The two laureates received the Prize for their commitment to the promotion of Arab culture around the world. The ceremony was followed by a concert by the group LABESS.
Christine Tohme (Lebanon) is a cultural organizer and curator. In 1994, she founded The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan, which supports and facilitates the production and circulation of creative and intellectual endeavours across a range of disciplines and media. Through her commitment to writing, publishing, documentation, and archive development, Tohme supports research, debate, and partnerships, as well as regional and international networking. By connecting artists and intellectuals from her region with the rest of the world, Ms Tohme helps foster an enabling environment for younger generations of artists and thinkers. In 2011, she initiated Home Workspace, a multidisciplinary forum held in Beirut, Lebanon, every two to three years. It has evolved into one of the most vibrant contemporary cultural events in the Arab region and beyond. She is a former curator of Sharjah Biennial 13.
Asociación Civil del Creciente Cine Fértil para la Promoción de la Diversidad Cultural (Argentina) is an nongovernemental organization based in Argentina. The association promotes Arab culture in Latin America through Arab film festivals, cultural audiovisual productions, and regional programmes, which promote cultural diversity. Cine Fértil allows people in the region to learn about the social, cultural and artistic contexts of the Arab world. The NGO has become a reference in the region for its initiatives in creating consistent and lasting cultural relations between Latin America and the Arab region. In 2011, Cine Fértil initiated the first edition of the Latin American Festival of Arab Cinema "LATINARAB", which has promoted an extensive selection of the most outstanding contemporary films produced in Arab countries.
The Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture rewards, each year, two laureates – individuals, groups or institutions – who, through their work and outstanding achievements, endeavour to disseminate greater knowledge of Arab art and culture. The $60,000 monetary value of the Prize will be divided equally between the two laureates.