American Univesity of Beirut

Beiteddine Festival: cultural cohesion in a time of flux

​​​​​​As world economies face significant challenges, and given recent political and economic instability in the region and Lebanon, Lina Tannir, finance lecturer and director of the MBA programs,​ contemplates the future of the Beiteddine Art Festival, a non-profit organization in Lebanon that focuses on development and promotion of art. This was done through publishing a case study in the prestigious Case Research Journal published by The North American Case Research Association.​

"In general, festivals can be categorized as development agencies having considerable positive direct and indirect impact on economies. In Lebanon, festivals have significantly contributed to reducing the negative impact the political divide inflicted on people," articulates Ta​nnir​, going on to say, "the movement of citizens across different regions encouraged the cultural exchange between the country and the world, and inbound tourism; thereby putting forth the real image of Lebanon: a melting pot of civilizations and cultures." She continues, adding, "Festivals have so far survived, and were able to successfully overcome the various shocks that swept through Lebanon, albeit with significant difficulty on both the financial and managerial fronts. These festivals have endured, owing to the belief, persistence, and perseverance of their management teams. However, going forward, they will have to find creative solutions to the challenges they are faced with."​

Titled The Beiteddine Festival: Bridging the Gap, the case offers a great opportunity for students interested in learning about the non-profit sector. More specifically, Tannir notes, the case helps in understanding “the financial management of these organizations, and the need for planning and budgeting. It showcases an organization that has a mission to promote social cohesion and cultural encounter, yet needs to manage its finances to maintain its operations, and achieve its objectives." This case also highlights "twining," relates Lina, "between an institution and its leader, in terms of vision and persistence, where the strength of the latter draws on that of the former."

Tannir maintains that "the recent political and economic instability of the country and the region has significantly impacted the financial sustainability of the festival, due to the volatility of revenues and escalating costs. In fact, the Lebanese government is struggling in the face of escalating economic and political issues, and has decided to levy additional taxes, thus adding to the complexity of Beiteddine Festival's financial model. The Festival is at a point where a decision needs to be taken: whether this organization could continue to support the cultural scene in Lebanon, despite the many challenges facing it, or whether it should shut its doors." She adds saying, "essentially the question is: should the show go on?"

Despite numerous challenges and crises, "civilizations throughout history have been marked by cultural, artistic, and musical events," reaffirms Tannir, "these festivals will undoubtedly continue, albeit with the need to put in place creative measures to overcome the added risk." 

The situation did not get any better with the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic that has effectively halted cultural and artistic events, especially those associated with the festival business. "Alas," ponders Tannir, "we may see in Lebanon a halt to festival activities for some time, until safe measures are found and put in place." However, she hopes, "Festivals may find it useful to leverage current technologies, to manage new and upcoming challenges."

Tannir specializes in finance, and is published in academic journals. She chaired a leading Lebanese NGO, works actively with the private sector, serves on the board of a local retail company, and consults and participates in workshops on entrepreneurship. Lina serves as a mentor and juror for regional/local business competitions. She is a CFA charter holder, with an MBA (2000) from AUB, and has over ten years of experience in public sector reform programs.​

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