DOHA, QATAR – It is the final day of The New York Times Art for Tomorrow Conference (NYTAFT) in Doha, Qatar, which ran from 12 to 15 March. Sponsored by Sotheby’s, the summit brought together over 200 delegates to listen, speak and engage with the world’s top art leaders. A lucky 25 people also received a hard-hat tour around the Qatar National Museum by architect Jean Nouvel.
A significant amount of intuition, gusto and creativity went into the making of Art for Tomorrow, meeting the overwhelming need to create a platform that brings together people who can influence, develop and challenge changes taking place at a rapid pace.
HER EXCELLENCY SHEIKHA AL-MAYASSA BINT HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI WAS ON A PANEL THAT DISCUSSED CULTURE TOWARDS A NEW URBAN AGENDA.
For any city that, like Doha, is striving to be creative, there needs to be much more than just bricks and mortar and the topics across the three-day conference addressed this. They were varied, and they questioned the elements of culture, creativity, tand echnology. The takeaway: although culture tells what a place is, creativity is what shapes its life.
Each talk deeply connected to the next, and interweaved across each day, so there was a larger conversation taking place. It is clear that for a country to excel there needs to be a degree of "openness," and Qatar demonstrated this by allowing for these topics to be broached and talked about on centre stage.
Although Qatar is growing very quickly, there is an underlying vision about developing and preserving heritage and culture, and a key example of this is shown in Qatar’s soon-to-be-opened National Museum, whose principal architect is Jean Nouvel. “The national museum is a case where contemporary architecture meets local heritage," explained Qatar Museums Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani during a panel in which she shared her views on culture's role in civic, national and international development strategies as well as the implications of cultural vandalism and how to combat it.
ARCHITECT JEAN NOUVEL JOINED IN A TALK ABOUT THE GALLERY AND THE CITY.
Her Excellency shared the stage with author Charles Landry, UNESCO assistant director-general for culture Francesco Bandarin and New York Times columnist Roger Cohen on the first day. She covererd a wide range of topics, including the artistic, cultural and civic development of Doha; Qatar's ambitions ahead of the 2022 World Cup; the use of urban planning to shape public engagement; and cultural preservation.
"When we commissioned Richard Serra [to build a public art project], we wanted him to preserve the culture, but also create a unique experience in a remote area, and East-West/West-East by Serra eloquently connects the city with the desert,” Her Excellency concluded.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY THE NEW YORK TIMES ART FOR TOMORROW CONFERENCE.