Creativity and Regeneration in Mar Mikhael

SWOT conference.
Brasserie du Levant Mar Mikhael, Beirut
17 July 2014

The ‘Creativity and Regeneration in Mar Mikhael’ conference, was held on July 17 at the ‘Grande Brasserie du Levant’ in Mar Mikhael, Beirut.

The conference was the first event held in the framework of the MEDNETA project. The conference brought together creative business owners, financial experts, urban studies specialists, and civil society actors to assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to urban regeneration and the creative economy in the Mar Mikhael district. This analysis was both timely and relevant in light of the significant urban and economic changes it is experiencing as a district in the city of Beirut.

The conference addressed two key issues pertaining to the transformations occurring in the neighbourhood: The state of the Lebanese creative economy in light of the limitations of the local market, import and export laws, as well as funding schemes. The conference also addressed the broader urban environment of Mar Mikhael discussing the effects of gentrification and receding public space on its Arts, Crafts and Design sectors.

A public of more than 250 members of the art sector, students and professionals attended the conference. In addition to the panels and the roundtables organized during the conference, the venue also sustained an exhibition of various artists, designers and architects of the neighbourhood.

A wide range of critical and significant proposals were made throughout the conference proceedings. In the closing session, H.E. the Lebanese Minister of Culture, H.E. Raymond Arayji issued a strong call for the establishment of a working group to address the issues discussed. A consensus amongst panellists and audience members was made in order to appeal to local governing bodies to strengthen the application of the rule of law in the neighbourhood. Moreover, a detailed analysis of the issues discussed will take place with the establishment of an urban observatory and the eventual connection of ACDs with much needed funding schemes. Finally, the conference served to open the door for future collaboration amongst those present, therefore strengthening a united commitment for regeneration and change via creativity in the Mar Mikhael district.