Sharjah Art Foundation is one of Sharjah’s leading contemporary visual arts organizations. The others are the Sharjah Art Museum, the Maraya Art Centre and the Barjeel Foundation. Other than the latter two the Sharjah Art Foundation does not have its own permanent venue but is rather an umbrella organization for several other initiatives, including the Sharjah March Meeting and the Sharjah Biennial. As a whole the Sharjah Arts Foundation’s activities take place in the Sharjah Heritage area, in the Beit Al Serkal, in the Beit Al Shamsi and during the Biennial in the Sharjah Art Museum and a few other locations.
Being close to Emir Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, funding-wise and through the current president, his daughter Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, the Foundation and its branches are a continuation of the earliest initiatives the Emir took to make Sharjah a major player in the artistic and cultural development of the Gulf region.
The Sharjah Art Foundation was established in 2009 and then took its position of overlooking the Sharjah Biennial and the March Meeting plus setting up other projects throughout the year.
In its activities there is attention for international artists but there is a focus on artists from the region.
The Sharjah Art Foundation also runs a residency program. It aims to build a longer term working relationship with artists who have been resident, like Danish artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, who participated in the2003 Sharjah Biennial, then returned for a residency in 2005 and then produced a major work in the 2009 Biennial. Lebanese sound artist Tarek Atoui’s residency in 2008 enabled him to develop one of his most complex performances. This was premiered during the 9th Sharjah Biennial and later presented at the New Museum, NY, in 2009 and the Maison Rouge in Paris in 2010. Atoui was responsible for the concluding performance of the 2011 March Meeting and regularly has returned to lead educational projects in the city.
The foundations’ president Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi is a practicing artist herself, having studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, and she has an MA in curating contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art. She is on the Board of Directors of the MoMA PS1 and was on the curatorial selection committee for the 2012 Berlin Biennale.
The Sharjah Art Foundation is funded through the Department of Culture and Information of the government of Sharjah.