BASEMENT Cultural Foundation
Address: Yemen, Sana’a, Al-Hai Al-Siasi, 05 street, 14 House
Contact: Shaima Jamal
Open Hours: Saturday – Thursday 9 am- 6 pm
How is the project operated?
BASEMENT is a non-profit foundation.
How long has it been in existence?
BASEMENT was established in 26 April 2009 (for 8 years).
What was your motivation?
BASEMENT had been an architecture office with the same name and started with an activity called Knowledge Exchange Forum (KEF). The idea of KEF was to share knowledge between the staff of the office and then the activity starting involving people from outside and it became public. The office closed but KEF continued until today.
The exchange of knowledge as a principle is our main motive since the very beginning but with time new (related) motives have been added. BASEMENT aims to give people a platform to show their talents and knowledge without any criteria. It gives them a space to show what they have got. The Yemeni cultural scene does not help people to deal with culture as a basic thing; it is only an elitist activity and it should be for everyone.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
The founder of BASEMENT is an architect named Saba Al-Suleihi and there are three people who are managing the Foundation; Shaima Jamal (executive director), Khaled Al-Muraisi (project manager) and Abdul-Aziz Morfeq (coordinator).
How are programs funded?
BASEMENT started by individual funding by the founder and people who are motivated by the idea. In October 2013 we started to be funded by NGO donors (international organizations).
Who is responsible for the programming?
The board of Trustees designs the general guidelines and the management board is responsible of the details.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
There have been 48 KEF events, 16 cinema shows and other activities which are not as stable (mostly 20 activities in different subjects).
What kind of events are usually organized?
We are interested in all kinds of cultural activities, but we usually focus on art because there are not enough spaces for artists and if there are, it is complicated to be involved in it.
Every KEF event has to involve arts within it in some way – even if an event is about politics there will be music and/or an exhibition as well. The cinema shows are basically organized to aim critical thinking and discussion so after the show is more important than the film itself. Other activities are related to things we are interested in; e.g. debates, writing workshops, book discussions and so on.
How is your programming determined?
The board of Trustees meets in the beginning of every year and gives us the basic guidelines based on previous years activities, next year goals and other factors (e.g. political situations) and then we try to design our program based on the guidelines. We are usually affected by the country situation and we build our goals based on it.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
BASEMENT does not fund programs usually; it has limited resources but we help people with logistics needs and are open to ideas.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
Freedom of speech; we believe that being free is based on being responsible.”No freedom without responsibility” and we want people to deal with culture and art as a basic need.
What’s working? What’s not working?
Not working in BASEMENT: violence, extremism and anything would put the audience’s life in danger.
Working: everything else related to culture and art.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
To help people to show their talents and products and help them to give more, to develop themselves more, encourage them to not be hopeless or shameless about what they have got, to create a safe atmosphere that accept their differences and to interact with their creativity.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
To open more places like BASEMENT in other cities and towns, to help people in Sana’a to open similar spaces and to discover more hidden talents.
Images courtesy of Basement Cultural Foundation.