When the port of Beirut exploded on August 4, so did the hopes and dreams of the city’s people. Beirut is no longer what it once was. But there is hope in every initiative that helps it to rise again. While many sectors were affected by the explosion, the creative sector bellied a large share of the loss.
Following the explosion, nine Lebanese joined forces to launch the Creatives for Lebanon initiative. “We quickly came together as friends of friends, all connected after the horrific explosion on August 4 to help Lebanon and help rebuild and revive the creative industry,” says the collective. Despite the distance that separates them, with only two of the founders in Lebanon and the other seven in London, the communication has been quick and effective. “Our regular Zoom meetings and Whatsapp group have made it possible for us to mobilize immediately and have kept communication seamless,” adds the collective.
Creatives for Lebanon is a non-profit association that seeks to utilize the strength and potential of key creative figures abroad to support Lebanon’s creative sector. This vibrant sector, which reflects the most beautiful image of Lebanon, will rise again. The soldiers behind Creatives for Lebanon are: Caroline Issa, Chief Executive and Fashion Director of Tank Magazine; Sabine Getty, Editor-at-Large Tatler; Eli Rezkallah, founder of Plastik; Ahmad Swaid, Head of Content at Dazed Media; stylist and consultant Emilie Kareh; PR consultant Alissa Kobeissi; jewelry designer Noor Fares; homeware designer Petra Palumbo; and fashion designers Racil Chalhoub and Sarah Baadarani.
“Through our networks, we have clear insight into both on the ground information as well as a global perspective about the situation so we can tailor our strategy,” says the collective. The support initiative will not be unilateral but multi-phased and long-term. Their mission is to mobilize others around them; each of the nine founders will enhance Lebanon’s image through their individual networks and then gather their collective influence. “It is truly incredible and heartening to see how many of our relationships from all over the world are passionate and enthusiastic to help out, many of them are not Lebanese, but all eager to support our initiatives and the people of Lebanon who need the most help.”
The founders realize that recovery from the tragic explosion that rocked the capital will take a long time, “especially since Lebanon is mired in a political, economic, and humanitarian crisis.” They have set a short-term goal that will lead to the achievement of their overall strategic objectives. “Our short term goal is to help the country by supporting the most trusted and effective humanitarian organizations on the ground, and ensure funds are maximized on the ground to those with the most need. This, we are confident will help nurture and rebuild the community – offering hope and a sense of future to the Lebanese people,” says the collective. While the long term goal is to support the creative industry, which has been seriously affected by the fallout of the explosion and the economic crisis. “We believe the creative industry is crucial in maintaining Lebanon’s cultural clout and presence on a global scale.”
The association is currently working on two exciting projects, which will be launching in the coming months, they are also looking at 2021 initiatives and beyond because they “know Lebanon’s predicament is not going away any time soon,” adds the collective.
For their multi-phase launch initiative #DonateCreateParticipate, the association is proud to partner with Sotheby’s, one of the world’s leading auction houses and Art for Beirut to host an online charity sale. This will bring together a curated selection from world renowned friends, collaborators and artists, luxury fashion houses, and fine jewelry brands who will be donating exclusive pieces.
Concurrently, it will see support of concept charity Beirut Re-Store, which provides a curated space for creatives to sell donated works to an international audience. This platform is key in generating immediate funds and creating a longer term recovery plan, to help rebuild what was so tragically affected. As part of the launch initiative, special curated product collaborations with a global list of both emerging and established creatives will be available later this year, for sale on the e-store.
The founders’ message to Lebanese creative people who lost so much from the Beirut Blast is: “We know Lebanese creatives are going through the greatest challenge ever faced by their community. We understand things seem bleak and hopeless and the problems seem insurmountable, but we also want them to know that they are valued around the world, that the work they do is important, and that their community is vital to rebuilding Lebanon and its crucial, cultural heart. What’s more, we want to reassure them that the global community is here to help.” It is a difficult mission, but the collective action in cooperation with Creatives for Lebanon will make it easier. Through authentic and transparent cooperation, Creatives for Lebanon aims to help rebuild what had been tragically lost in the creative communities in Lebanon, which is so dear to their hearts. When grievances are resolved, all will rise.