Caravanserai to Showcase Islamic Art and Culture to Foster Understanding

Brahim Fribgane (left), Francoise Atlan (right)
Photo Submitted

Brahim Fribgane (left), Francoise Atlan (right)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Caravanserai: A Place Where Cultures Meet, a showcase of the diversity of contemporary Islamic societies, will offer programs in Northwest Arkansas through a partnership between the University of Arkansas and the Walton Arts Center. Programs will use compelling contemporary and traditional vocal and instrumental music, film and photography to promote understanding between American and Muslim societies. The 2012-13 season will highlight Moroccan arts.

The King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, the university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Walton Arts Center have partnered to attract the programs.

“Our ultimate goal is to foster appreciation for Moroccan cultural expression in all of its diverse manifestations,” said Joel Gordon, professor of history and director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies. “This entails establishing an understanding of Morocco as a site of historic importance in world history, a meeting point of multiple cultures in which diverse religious and linguistic traditions have merged to produce stunning syntheses in both high arts and popular culture.”

Caravanserai events will include performances by Majid Bekkas and Brahim Fribigane on Oct. 18, 2012, and the Fez Orchestra with Francoise Atlan on April 19, 2013. Both shows are part of Walton Arts Center’s 10x10 Art Series and Learning and Engagement programs.

Caravanserai’s emphasis on providing contextual information and opportunities to explore art forms outside of the concert hall makes the project perfectly suited for our 10x10 Art Series,” said Jenni Taylor-Swain, vice president of programming at Walton Arts Center. “This series makes arts performances accessible to the whole community through very low cost tickets as well as stronger connections with artists and art forms.”

Caravanserai is led by Arts Midwest, a non-profit regional arts organization. The program is funded by a $1 million grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges program. Major support for the program is provided through an International Engagement Grant from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and MetLife Foundation All-In: Re-imagining Community Participation Program.

“The name Caravanserai was carefully selected for this program,” says David Fraher, executive director of Arts Midwest. “Historically, in the east and middle-east, stopping places for caravans were called caravanserais, and they were safe places to sit around the fire, come together, and exchange stories. The name evokes that imagery of travelers in a safe haven, in a place where cultures meet. We’re delighted that the King Fahd Center, Walton Arts Center and their community partners are providing one of those stopping places for an exciting cultural experience.”

The 2012-13 Caravanserai tour also includes the Global Education Center in Nashville, Tenn., the Jamestown Fine Arts Association in Jamestown, N.D., and the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, Minn.

The King Fahd Center, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Walton Arts Center will announce specific Caravanserai events throughout Northwest Arkansas during the coming months.


Laila Taraghi, program coordinator
The King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies

Darinda Sharp, director of communications
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