Tuesday, January 23, 2007

You Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover

The concept that if the outer trimmings suggest culture, money, refinement, intelligence, beauty etc. then it is so! It certainly isn’t so, but there are many who would delude themselves and others into thinking that it is so. An opera house in Jordan that seats 1,500 will not give Jordan more ‘culture’ and is an amazingly strange priority for a poor country. Not that culture isn’t important, it is. In fact, the arts give pleasure and are an important venue for expressing reality that conventional avenues do not do. But an opera house? Probably the correct term in this instance would be a Theater for the Performing Arts. Even this definition I find premature and weighted down in wishful thinking. The Royal Cultural Center has been open for over 20 years which seats about 300 people, I think. This building has had an interesting history and at one point I assumed it was the National Theater of Jordan. Then there are three available and useful outdoor theaters, that each seat upwards of 1,000 people, for musical and theatrical events of every description – even ice follies. There is the theatre at the Municipality and another one at the University as well as the one at the Sports City called the Palace of Culture. Is there a study that shows how popular and packed our several theaters are? Do we have such talent and established companies of performing artists to keep any kind of schedule of programs that would fill seats - thus justifying a huge opera house? Simple questions maybe, but fair. Surely the technical equipment and maintenance of a proper theater are too expensive to allow it to drift into just another conference hall. I hope that upon reflection and some serious study, the money will be allocated for other necessary projects that will benefit Jordan more.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree!

Public swimming pools [indoor and outdoor] would be a better choice and one that would benefit most Jordanians. Segregated if need be.

Maybe even a planetarium or an aquarium actually the options are endless.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Huttonian said...

Nothing to do with this post but there is a very interesting article on Iraqis in Jordan in todays (British) Independent. Worth getting hold of.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about some books, with or without covers ? Why not have really good public libraries throughout the kingdom, and some of those good old fashioned mobile libraries that bought so much pleasure to so many people. Encouraging reading is a much more worthwhile 'cultural' activity for a country such as ours.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too was shocked and dismayed by this announcement. Especially in Jordan, a poor third world country where the middle class is practically eliminated and people are struggling to stay warm this winter.

What's worse is that Jordan has a very immature arts and cultural sector. We don't have a theater group worthy of world standards, we don't have a music industry that is even regionally recognized and don't get me started on the horrible acting on Jordaninan tv shows that we watch more for entertainment and a good laugh than the drama they are meant to be.

I don't mean to sound so mean, but like i said, we are still too immature where the arts is a fairly new thing and needs many years to even become recognized.

First the 12 million bridge that has not eased any traffic (as any motorist who has been there even yesterday can tell you). Now an opera house to support what theater/music industry?

Fix the roads with many potholes that are ruining our cars and making us spend the little money we make in this country! How about improving our agriculture? And if it must be spent on culture, i love the suggestions other commentors made, how about something more educational and useful like a planetarium, library, encourage people to learn!!!!

This is just one more thing for the benefit of the extreme minorities of Jordanians who would care for such thing. Sad thing is, there aren't even 1500 of them.

Thursday, January 25, 2007  
Blogger joladies said...

Opera houses and cultural centres do not an identity make; culture cannot be imposed – it has to evolve and exert itself from the grass roots level upwards and it can only do that with state sponsorship and a sense of respect for freedom of expression.

The lamentable lack of a support network for some of these struggling grass roots creative movements, be it in the theatre, or the music world, has resulted in the current sorry state of affairs whereby the Jordanian sense of its cultural 'self' – is currently languishing in the pit of indifference and confusion exacerbated by a flood of western hegemony. Hardly surprising then that the Jordanian 'self' has gone into hibernation … a ploy to escape the depression, no doubt. Just look around your neighbourhood – do you have an adult cultural centre, a library or a museum; an artist's workshop or a music centre sponsored by the state on your door step? If you do then, lucky you, it's probably a private initiative.

We seem to be overlooking the obvious: – the small scale local neighbourhood social centre that caters to the culture within provided and financed by the State. Even an Islamic studies centre for general educational purposes in English and Arabic would be welcome … for in my neighbourhood we have nothing from the government but houses, roads, cars, shops, and an excess of junk food outlets. What does this do for the mental wellbeing of our children? My kids can't even kick a ball around without fear of being run over by a speeding motorist. And as for a trip down to the local library … would someone please tell me where it is. The sad reality of entertainment for the youth of today is a trip to a video store and a burger joint, whilst hanging around street corners smoking, or other such mind numbing activities.

So please spare a thought for all things small and beautiful, Mr Statesman, when planning my cultural future. You can start by banishing junk food outlets on prime real estate please. We really are tired of seeing concrete upon concrete, when all we need is a state sponsored drive to alleviate the stress with a few more libraries here and there, interspersed with sports facilities and a garden or two, you know the 'green' ones where the only concrete you see is the one called a path beneath your fee. We need a few more local social centres where people have the choice to learn a new craft and interact with neighbours,young and old alike. The way they used to.... And if people want to sing, so be it, give them a microphone, much cheaper than a multi-million dinar construction that overburdens the tax payer.

But above all Mr Minister Sir, or Town Planner Esq., STOP BUILDING MALLS and GATED COMPOUNDS and OPERA HOUSES – you're destroying what little opportunity we have of getting our culture off the ground and into society – give us our 'harra' back and start listening to all those in the cultural field who have been struggling for survival without support for decades! J

Thursday, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This a bit off course, but along with Opera Houses, may I be so bold as to say that I also do not want to see another mosque built in Amman ? We have mosques aplenty - why cannot people remember their loved ones with community centres, libraries, playgrounds, clinics and so on.

Thursday, January 25, 2007  
Blogger joladies said...

I have culture on my street!! It is called "skating culture" and kids on rollerblades, skateboards and rollerskates can be found there in abundance. Of course that means that people who want to walk in the same area might get killed by a streaking daredevil, but hey...they wanted culture in Shemisani and now they finally have it!!

Sunday, January 28, 2007  

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