Drama Academy Ramallah _ 2009 to 2018

A 9-year cooperation project with Palestine

The Drama Academy Ramallah, the first and only Drama Academy in Palestine, has been training Palestine actors and actresses from 2009 to 2018. As the funding of the Drama Academy has come to an end on the conclusion of the 2018 summer semester, teaching activities have ceased. In cooperation with the Folkwang University of the Arts, students have graduated each year at the Drama Academy Ramallah for a total of seven years. The graduates have made a significant contribution to the cultural and educational sector in Palestine.

The Drama Academy Ramallah was established in 2009 under the patronage of the then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier with financial support from the Mercator Foundation. Originally with initial funding for three years, and then with extraordinary follow-up funding – amounting to 460,000 Euros in total. This ensued as part of the „Future for Palestine“ initiative together with the Al-Kasaba Theatre in Ramallah. The former Theatre Director Dr. Volkmar Clauß was responsible for the project management. The Folkwang University of the Arts – particularly the Acting study course – was responsible for the artistic and pedagogical conception in this project and supervising the structural processes. By this means, it was intended to „foster cultural cooperation and support the peace process in the Middle East using visible measures on a sustainable basis“. This was the goal expressly declared in 2009 by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Since 2013, the German Foreign Office has also supported the project with funding totalling 540,000 Euros. The total funding provided by all project partners has amounted to some 1.53 million Euros.

The Folkwang Vice-President for International Affairs, Prof. Hanns-Dietrich Schmidt, on the importance of the Drama Academy Ramallah project and the perspective of a higher theatre education in Palestine:

„Over the past years of the development and consolidation phase, many Folkwanglers have participated with great commitment in the Drama Academy Ramallah project, thus making a valuable contribution to the first theatre education in Palestine. Thanks to the help provided by our teaching staff, employees and other partners, such as the Goethe Institutes in Ramallah and Munich, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Palestinian Welfare Association, the German Foreign Office and the Mercator Foundation, it has been possible for 37 actors and actresses to successfully graduate from the Drama Academy. Many of these graduates have since played a significant role in the cultural and educational sector in Palestine. The Drama Academy Ramallah itself has become a driving force of international cultural exchange. The numerous exchange projects and encounters between students and teaching staff – funded by DAAD and the Allianz Cultural Foundation – were surely the centrepiece of this cooperation as well as proving highly enriching for members of the two institutions – both artistically and personally.
The Folkwang University of the Arts notes with regret that funding for this special Drama Academy in Palestine has now come to an end after nine successful years, because – amongst other reasons – it was not possible to secure a financial contribution from the Palestinian side. At the same time, though, we are delighted that the prestigious Palestinian Birzeit University has plans to establish a "Performing Arts" theatre and dance study course at its newly created Faculty for Art, Music and Design in the next few years. If the Birzeit University does indeed bring about the continuation of an artistic-academic theatrical education in the future, then this will represent a significant success. With its commitment and intensive substantive work with the Drama Academy Ramallah, Folkwang has built a solid foundation for the future theatre education.“

(Prof. Schmidt, September 2018)