In 2005, the Syrian government decided to initiate a shift from a planned to a market economy, in addition to liberalization towards the global market, and attracting international capital (♥). The period of the loth Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), is a transitional period.
Despite the increase in funds in comparison to previous years, the MOC has exceeded its planned budgets because it expanded its activities in all the governorates of the country. An amount of too million pounds has been added to the MOC budget in 2008 to cover the Ministry’s activities for Damascus, Capital of Arab Culture that year. (1) An additional allocation of 50 million pounds was added in 2009 to the MOC’s budget for activities to celebrate Al-Quds, Capital of Arab Culture 2009. While the overall budget of the Ministry of Culture reached 2135 million pounds in 2009, the budget of the Ministry of Local Administration was approximately 94 billion pounds. The expenditure on the cultural centres and Directorates of Culture in 2009 reached 813,140 thousand pounds. The state is still the major funder and caretaker of culture.
The financial grants that Syria receives are for capacity building by transferring knowledge. The European Union is the most important partner of Syria with regard to culture. The value of the projects for 2007-2010 is approximately 130 million Euros. There are 2 major fields of cooperation: economic and institutional reform and social and human development which includes the cultural domain. In this area, the Syrian Government benefits from the funds of the 4th Programme of the European-Mediterranean Heritage which has been allocated 13.67 million Euros. There are also small cultural projects amounting to 17,000 Euros and a youth project worth 200,000 Euros. The European Commission allocates a budget of 200,000 Euros to support and fund cultural projects in Syria.
The Euro-Mediterranean Youth Programme makes available an annual grant of 16-40 thousand Euros. The JICA-Japanese Institution provides technical help, such as instruments and equipment for theatre venues and the halls of cultural centres, depending on the needs of such institutions. JICA also organizes comparable help for the Syrian cultural sector from Japanese organizations, for example, technical assistance and brass and wind instruments for the Dar Al-Assad (the Opera). The support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation amounts to approximately 190,000 Swiss Francs. The Swiss pledged to finance projects to renovate paths for tourists in the historical cities in the Samaan Citadel Zone, in the Aleppo governorate. This project is the result of a bilateral cultural agreement on the maintenance of Syrian architectural heritage.
- A special committee for Damascus Capital of Arab Culture was formed and reported directly to the Prime Minister, The committee organized the capital of culture independently from the MOC, with a very large separate budget.
[♥] From: Syria by Reem Al Khatib and Rana Yazaji published in ‘Cultural Policies in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia. An introduction’, Cultural Resource/European Cultural Foundation, Bookmanstudies, 2010, 179-180.