Syria: Art and culture is returning to the city of Raqqa


Raqqa’s Civil Council inaugurated the Centre of Culture and Art, exhibiting works of art from regional artists

A new Centre for Culture and Arts showcasing local and regional works of art, plays, and musical performances has opened in the city of Raqqa, seeking to breathe life into the one-time ISIS capital in Syria.

The Centre will serve as the main artistic hub for artists, musicians, and playwrights to exhibit their creative qualities.

Inaugurated by the Raqqa Civil Council, which is responsible for all administrative affairs in Raqqa, the opening of the Centre is yet another step in the resurgence of the city after ISIS’ rule.

“Now, culture and life are generally returning to the city of Raqqa after it was occupied by terrorism, which killed every meaning of life for three to four years,” said Daham al-Sitam, a writer and director. “Now, the people of Raqqa are improving their lives and looking forward to love and peace.”

“This cultural centre, which we have worked on for months to open, has become the leading [cultural] centre in [Raqqa] Province,” said Ziyad al-Hamd, a member of the Centre. “We will try to bring events back to the city after we succeed in opening this centre along with all of its departments such as plastic art, heritage, painting, theatre, literature, and media.”

Raqqa was held by ISIS from early 2014 until September 2017, when the group was defeated by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of predominately Kurdish, Arab and minority fighters.

Under the group’s rule, many forms of artistic expressions, such as painting and music, were banned, with punishments severe for transgressors.

Now, locals hope that this is a positive step in bringing back cultural affairs to Raqqa and leaving behind the past under ISIS rule.

“The cultural centre will target those who have been away from culture for four years,” said Amad Atar, an administrator at the Centre. “After those dark four years, the cultural centre will play an influential role in the revival of folklore through heritage sessions for adults and children.”