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Lebanese Festivals Suffering from Financial Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut- Announcements of summer festival programs in Lebanon are ongoing despite lack of funding. The committee of Zouk Mikael Festivals announced on Wednesday its schedule in a ceremony held at the tourism ministry with the attendance of the tourism minister, the ministry’s Director General Nada Sardouk and many other figures.

Sardouk said at the press conference that Zouk Mikael won global awards and peoples’ admiration, which qualified it to mark a place on the political map.

She highlighted the participation of Mayssa Karaa and Guy Manoukian in the festival.

Zalfa Bouez, chairwoman of the festivals, said this year’s program sheds light on artistic talents reflecting the image of a cultural and creative Lebanon aiming to maintain the notable rank the festival reached since their launch in 2003. Despite the limited financial resources, the committee decided to hold two special performances by two Lebanese artists.

The first concert will feature Manoukian on July 4 to mark the 25th anniversary of the start of his career. “The Journey” concert of Manoukian will precede his upcoming world tour which will conclude in Los Angeles.

Manoukian, who made his debut in Lebanon, has become a global musician and won many international awards, including the Armenian Music Award in Los Angeles, and the Arab Music Award in Dubai.

The second concert will feature Karaa on July 6. The Lebanese-American songwriter and singer will share the stage with a group of international musicians.

Karaa’s international celebrity emerged in 2013 when she performed the Arabic version of the “White Rabbit” song in the US movie “American Hustle”, which was nominated for 10 Oscars, while its song was nominated for the Grammy Awards.

Bouez said that the festival season is about to begin, and that a solution must be found to settle the financial crisis hitting all the festivals so they can keep promoting Lebanon on the economic, touristic, and cultural levels, and enhancing its position in the region.

For his part, Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian said: “Today’s announcement is special because we are talking about Zouk Mikael and its 15-year-old festivals, which honor Lebanon’s tourism map and many people who work hard to organize them.”

He added: “Zouk Mikael Festivals are unique because they feature two artists: Guy Manoukian, who addresses a patriotic message through his music; and Maysaa Karaa, a Lebanese immigrant artist who should be greeted in her home country”.

Commenting on the financial crisis, the minister said: “I want to talk about the financial issue and the limited funding, and I would like to assert that we are making serious efforts to deal with it. The festivals are increasing, and the budget is limited, but, must be divided among all those festivals.”

“However, as per the taxes, this matter will be among my priorities and among the top topics in the government’s schedule,” the minister concluded.

Recently, Nora Jumblat, the president of Beiteddine Art Festival, complained about financial difficulties facing festival organizers and called for lowering taxes on ticket sales.

During Wednesday’s announcement, both Manoukian and Karaa talked about their concerts.