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The history of RestART Beirut

Beirut has an immensely rich and diverse cultural heritage built over 5,000 years of History. Its tangible and intangible heritage was passed on from generation to generation and is expressed in Beirut’s historic urban core.

The 4th of August 2020 port of Beirut explosion in the heart of its historic neighbourhood took many innocent lives, left thousands of people in a precarious situation and damaged Beirut’s precious architectural heritage. Maintaining the authenticity of Beirut’s heritage, by raising awareness, can help transform societal challenges into positive outcomes and increase cohesion and general wellbeing. Cultural heritage rehabilitation is a major contributor to social cohesion, civic spirit and an efficient way of bringing communities together. The societal and economic benefits of cultural heritage rehabilitation are seen as innovative stimulants for economic growth, employment and education and are linked to a wide range of traditional and innovative industries and impact both the local and national economy.

After the 4th of August tragic event, innovative financing and new form of governance have emerged, among them public-private partnerships, crowd-sourced funding projects and many other forward-looking and creative approaches to harness the locked-up potential of Beirut’s heritage and local talents.

RestART Beirut has been created with the aim of reviving and harnessing the the socio-economic benefits of Lebanon’s cultural heritage, by supporting the rehabilitation of Beirut’s collections and with its flagship project: the Sursock Palace collections and its opening to the public. This Palace and future artistic residency, from which cultural awareness will radiate throughout Beirut, aims to become a driver for economic and social development in the city. The project will reinforce the role of heritage as part of Beirut’s underlying socio-economic fabric by generating growth, creating employment, increasing community cohesion and involvement.

RestART Beirut wishes to contribute to this dynamic in its many dimensions:

  • Education, with heritage awareness, the transmission of know-how in work-schools, and the dissemination of architectural and artistic culture to a young public.
  • the local economy, with the revitalisation of a network of Lebanese artists and craftsmen, and even the creation of new permanent jobs in this sector (mainly for young apprentices) between traditional gestures and innovative practices.
  • Internationally, to the extent of numerous transnational cooperations that will have to be established between institutions, universities, private companies or even individuals from the Lebanese diaspora and beyond.
 Swiss experts are assessing the extent of the damage. (October 2021)

Behind this initiative…

RestART has a multicultural founding committee of 6 people: Joseph El Hayek, Didier Goossens, Laurent Lise-Cabasset, Marie Eve Didier, Alexandru Dramu, Pierre-Henri Ollier.

In order to carry out its day-to-day activities, an operational committee has been set up, currently composed of Marie Eve Didier, Patrick Michel and Didier Goossens.

“We are convinced that in times of crisis culture is often left out of humanitarian aid efforts, but culture is the soul of communities everywhere, the backbone of social cohesion, the guardian of shared values that enable collective action and recovery. – RestART Beirut

Our mission

When thinking about Beirut, what springs to mind is the extraordinary resilience of its inhabitants, who have always been able to recover from the multiple dramatic events which have marked the long history of the country. It is this strength of character and this energy that RestART Beirut wishes to showcase in its projects, whose main purpose is not only restoring the past but also stimulating the artistic life of Beirut in the near future.

Our mission is to sustainably protect the invaluable cultural heritage of Beirut, to harness it as a vector to ensure socio-economic benefits for the country and stimulate the artistic future of Beirut through cultural exchange and education.

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