What we do revolves around the notion of openness. This is where truth lies. We promote art that is open to everyone in every way. We believe everyone to be an artist if they so desire. Whatever their colour, creed, age, nationality, sexuality, ability or disability, they are always welcome through our door.
We want those that participate in our endeavours to feel that they can be honest and open with those that they work with, as well as with themselves. We want them to listen to each other and to their audience. This kind of openness will allow them to evolve into even more interesting artists.
The same applies to our audience. We hope that they walk through the door with an open-mind. If so there’s a chance that they can connect with some aspect of their experience of what the artists present, however small. The hope is that such a connection will lead to a discussion and another discussion and then, perhaps, an action. That is change. Open Art is a willingness for that process to take place.
A Note from the FOunders
We started this organization because we both understood the power of art. It can surprise, move, delight, disgust, but most importantly - for our purposes at least - it can engineer change.
With a focus on art - where there is no right or wrong answer - and the discussion that surrounds this simple and yet complex word, participants in Open Art’s work, as well as those that experience the artists’ end product, will see that they are part of something bigger, something that transcends borders and time and circumstance.
In most cases the individuals that we work with come from deprived communities of one kind or another, usually as a result of war. They have been run out of their homes because of tyranny or economic suffocation or both. We welcome them with open arms, believing that everyone is an artist, and the only obstacle is figuring out how to express it. Once the process of recognizing one’s artistic tendencies has begun - and it should be noted that this is a perpetual voyage, the sky is the limit.
While many of their problems are perhaps beyond their control, their work with us will show them that a lot more is within their power than they realize. Therefore Open Art’s guidance and their application will result in empowerment in the truest sense, because it allows one to realize that they are valued, that they are a piece of what defines society. With that they have the power to drive change, both in their own lives and maybe, just maybe, in the community from which they’ve been forced to flee.
- Itab Azzam & Hal Scardino
Itab is a TV and film producer based in London. She recently produced films for BBC2 - Exodus - and HBO about the refugee crisis, projects that have involved her following refugees from their home countries all the way into their countries of settlement. She previously worked on the award winning BBC4 series ‘Syrian School’, and produced the award-winning film ‘Queens of Syria’. She has worked on many other films including ‘The Light in her Eyes’, shot inside an all-female Quranic school in Damascus. She co-created and co-produced ‘Antigone of Syria’, an award-nominated project involving 35 Syrian women rehearsing and performing their own version of the ancient Greek play 'Antigone'.
Hal began his career as a film actor in Los Angeles and New York in the early 1990s. He started to develop an interest in theatre as the years went on, and after much coming and going between the US and the UK for work and education, he settled in the UK in 2010 and began working as assistant producer at The Tricycle Theatre in London. Soon after leaving the Tricycle, Hal acted in and executive produced the independent film The Show, directed by James Alexandrou. In 2013 he co-produced Syria: Trojan Women in Jordan and in 2014 he co-founded the Open Art Foundation, the production company and organization behind the internationally-acclaimed theatre project 'Antigone of Syria'.