For our final event in the TRACE series, we turn to our neighbors, to consider the act of founding an arts organization. As we re-trace On Site, our inaugural exhibition of 2014, we consider how an arts ecosystem grows, is nourished, and proliferates, and the question of how to identify where a new institution can make a difference.

Join us for this unusual zoom event: in an open conversation with these founders, we ask “Why found an arts organization? What would we do differently with hindsight, what we would do now?” After an initial discussion, we will break out into small groups, one with each founder, to go deeper into the questions of what needs founding and why, regrouping at the end with our findings.

When it opened in 2014, The Art Gallery was not alone as a small art organization with a goal to foster a lively cultural sector. Others had opened in the decade prior, particularly creating a ripple-effect of cultural activation in Dubai and Sharjah, and following 2014, a similar effect is emerging in Abu Dhabi. In 2005, the now-legendary Third Line Gallery struck out into the then-uncharted territory of Al Quoz in Dubai (founded by Sunny Rahbar and Claudia Cellini with Omar Gobash). Rami Farook established Traffic, and later Satellite, and in Sharjah Sultan Al Qassemi founded the Barjeel Art Foundation in 2010, alongside the Maraya Arts Center. In 2014, Art Dubai was going strong with Antonia Carver at the helm, but the Jameel Arts Centre, which she opened in 2018, was but a glimmer in her eye. And today, independent curator Munira Al-Sayegh has co-founded 101 with Ghaith Abdulla, a new platform to support a sustainable and ethical art ecosystem.

This event is part of the TRACE: Archives and Reunions series, and will mark the publishing of the online archive for the On Site: The Inaugural Exhibition exhibition, including the brochure and photographs of the exhibition.