STATEMENT: ZOUKAK THEATRE COMPANY STANDS WITH THE POPULAR UPRISING

Thursday, November 7, 2019

LEBANON'S OCTOBER POPULAR UPRISING
A STATEMENT FROM ZOUKAK THEATRE COMPANY

7th of November 2019 

Zoukak Theatre Company and Cultural Association has been on strike since October 18th, along with colleagues from Lebanon’s various cultural institutions. All events and performances scheduled by Zoukak for this period have been canceled, and all programs and workshops postponed until further notice. 

Despite the reprecussions that this strike will have on our organization, we continue to stand in solidarity with, and participate in the popular uprisings. We believe that in these crucial times, no voice is stronger than the voice of the people in the streets. The street will be our theatre until the popular demands are met.

It is well known that in the past few years, Lebanon has suffered a serious decline on an economic, political and social level. The situation has deteriorated to the point of announcing extreme taxation policies, that would directly affect middle-class and working-class families and individuals and deprive them of the few resources they have left.

On a cultural and artistic level, there has been an unprecedented amount of repression, as well as debilitating policies that target the freedom of expression of artists, cultural practitioners and citizens. Culture in Lebanon has long suffered from an absence of cultural policies on the agendas of the successive governments, an absence of state funding and subsidies for cultural projects, various policies of oppression, the obliteration of cultural heritage sites, and a total neglect of cultural products

To make matters even worse, the state – seized by the various forces of power, and plagued by fraud and corruption – recently increased taxation on cultural activities, in particular with regard to the organization of artistic and cultural events and the hosting of foreign artists, the result of which has been a direct hit to Beirut’s alternative cultural scene, which gives the city its distinguished role as a place for experimentation and international artistic exchange.

It is also well known that the country’s censorship system continues to play a role in weakening the cultural field, through imposing its authority on thought and creation. This authority extends beyond governmental devices through political party-affiliated groups. In the past few years, we have witnessed the methodological oppression of citizens who express political opinions online using social media, and the banning of songs, music, concerts and even percussion instruments, all under the banner of moral integrity. 

For the reasons mentioned above and more, we believe that strikes and protests are the way to start building the future we have always dreamed of, a free and decent future for all the citizens of this country. 

We believe that our shouts in the streets will break the chains that bind us, and will have the power to pull us out of the mire of failings that we were driven into, by the representatives who have mismanaged our country and our resources in the past years.

Until then, we will be meeting in the streets and the squares,

Zoukak Theatre Company 

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