Discovering DARS platform from Tehran, Iran

Interview with Faezeh AARABI
Faezeh Aarabi is the Co-Founder, director at Khalaagh Consulting Group and works as a researcher, learning facilitator and consultant in management. Over her experience in the field, Faezeh has played diverse roles in education, talent development and strategic management in several small and large-scale consultancy projects in Iran.
Faezeh is the executive manager at DARS platform, where she’s helped in its birth and development since 2014. Dars is a collaborative non-profit platform aiming to build and develop the necessary capacity for sustainable art and cultural management and entrepreneurship in Iran.
She participated in the Creative Tracks seminar, co-organized by the Roberto Cimetta Fund in Paris on March 7th, on Independent Cultural Entrepreneurs driving artistic creation.
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Can you please describe the scope and aim of DARS Platform?
dars (meaning: to learn) is a collaborative non-profit platform focusing on art and cultural management development through practical and creative programs. The programs include research projects, trainings, workshops, discussion panels, and talks.
Can you tell us how your daily work is?
It is partly focused on designing and development of DARS itself and partly focused on development of new art managers and their projects.
These two translate into many hours of research, googling, internal brainstorming meetings, writing and re-writing proposals, meetings with trainers, educators and consultants in the field of management, meetings with potential partners, planning workshops and programs, connecting to people active in the field through our workshops and programs, meetings with art managers who have already participated in one of our programs, are now facing a challenge and want a second opinion.
What services and support do you offer to artists and creative entrepreneurs?
DARS holds Tehran Art Management Program (TAMP) each year. We are planning the third year now. It is a ten-day program focusing on development of art managers in Iran.
** To see more about the 2016 TAMP edition, access the video here**
We also provide half and full day workshops throughout the year as well as one-on-one consulting sessions to creative entrepreneurs.
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What does the young start-ups and entrepreneurs scene in Iran look like and how is it different from the rest of the world?
Start-up scene in Iran is very vivid. Iran is an untapped and huge (Iran’s population is around 80 million) market as you might have heard a lot. It also is a very young country (52.98% of the population are younger than 35 years old, based on the latest statistics) and has a high rate of university graduates. Young entrepreneurs are working with several Iranian accelerators which have been created in the past few years. One can say that there is a young start-up ecosystem that has been developed in the past few years and it sure has lots of surprises to unfold as it grows in the coming years.
Art and cultural specific ecosystem is not as developed. It is only the beginning, so we should wait and see.
How would you describe the impact of your activities on the local community?
We are only at the beginning of our way as it is around two years that we’ve been around. Come with the same question in two years and I think I can give a real answer then. For now, I can say we’ve started a new dialogue and a bit of curiosity is growing both in the arts and cultural community and in the business and management community.Both find the “art management” a bit paradoxical and we get “what do you mean by art management?” question a lot.
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What are the other connections and collaborations that you develop with other local organizations and with the University?
We are partners with Kooshk residency, Hanooz Publication and deegar platform in Tehran. Each of them complete one aspect of the ecosystem DARS needs in order to be able to provide its services. Mohsen Gallery has also been very kind and supportive from the beginning. ArthinkSouthAsia has been with us in the past and we are looking into future collaborations now.
We have also been partners with the cultural sections of embassies of different European countries in Tehran like France, Netherlands and Poland.
We hope we can develop the existing links and build new ones and are actively working toward that.
What are the main sources of financing for creative entrepreneurs in your area? How do they organize their activities?
Most of the creative entrepreneurs need to learn to find ways to make their projects and ventures self-sustainable not through public funds but through finding investors or becoming their own investors in Iran. They need to eventually be able to think and act in the for-profit framework. This is not a rule but is mostly based on my personal observations and understanding throughout the years.
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Do you have any new projects coming up you would like to share? What are you working on at the moment?
There is a lot going on. We are working to organize TAMP 2017 which will take place in October.
A few workshops will take place as soon as Norouz Holidays (It is Iranian new year now) are over on “project management framework in arts and culture” and “personal career path development in arts and culture”.
We are also exploring how we can synergize all the different bits and pieces we do to coach, consult and train the arts managers into one package and under one umbrella.
by Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio
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Great work!
Rating: Accepted
From: Delater
11:04AM 4 April 2017
Faezeh, you and your colleagues are doing a very inspiring job, congratulations! I wish you the best!