“Sulaymaniyah, Capital of Culture” Council
The regulated attention to culture in the Sulaymaniyah is relatively new, as the “Sulaymaniyah, Capital of Culture” Council was established in 2013. It is headed by the Minister of Culture and consists of the Sulaymaniyah Governor, Director General of the Culture and Youth Department, President of Kurdistan Artists’ Syndicate, Chairman of the Union of Kurdish Writers- Sulaymaniyah branch, President of the Journalists Syndicate- Sulaymaniyah branch, and the Assistant General-Director of Culture-as Council Rapporteur. The Council has prepared a methodology and an action plan, in addition to 20 billion Iraqi Dinars allocated for the purpose of completing projects that contribute to achieving the vision of Sulaymaniyah, Capital of Culture.
Festivals and Cultural Activities
The Sulaymaniyah organizes international festivals such as (Clauaz Festival), which has been held under the auspices of the Clauaz Intellectual Centre on an annual basis since November 1996. The Festival hosts a group of artists, poets and intellectuals from various countries and during the festival more than 25 topics in different intellectual and cultural fields are presented and discussed.
Also, in December of each year and since the year 2000, Karaman Mukri Festival is held under the auspices of the Union of Kurdish writers. The Festival attracts more than 1000 visitors and participants annually.
In addition to the previous two annual festivals, a number of popular festivals are held in streets, parks and popular cafes under the auspices of the Association of Folk Arts to commemorate the founding of the Sulaymaniyah and Nowruz, as well as other national occasions.
There are many museums in the Sulaymaniyah attracting visitors from other provinces and neighboring countries such as the Sulaymaniyah Museum, which is the third museum in Iraq in terms of significance and contents. In addition to the Sulaymaniyah Museum, the Province hosts five other museums; namely: (1) Amna Suraka Museum (2) Ethnographic Museum (3) Sheikh Latif Museum (4) Sara Slemani Museum, and (5) Zamwa Gallery/ Museum.
Fine Arts, Cinema and Theater
In the Province center, there are seven galleries permanently and periodically displaying paintings and sculptures, such as Aram Gallery, the Museum Hall, Sardam Gallery, etc.
Recent years have witnessed a remarkable development in the fields of cinema and performing arts in the Sulaymaniyah. Many Films have been produced in the City and participated in international festivals, including three short films in the (Cannes Film Festival) with more than fifteen different international awards. There are also three theatres for performing arts under the supervision of the Regional Government, namely: Fine Arts Hall, Hall of Culture, and Art Palace Hall, in addition to a number of local galleries and a number of cinemas belonging to the private sector. It is worth mentioning that attendance rates at these sites are usually high.
Book Fairs and Cultural and Intellectual Forums:
Under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Youth, a large number of cultural and intellectual forums and book fairs are held and organized in the City by, for example, the Kurdish Heritage Institute in Sulaymaniyah, Sardam Printing and Publishing Foundation, Folk Arts Association, Zain Institution for the Revival of Kurdish Documents and Press Heritage, and Cultural Cafe, in addition to a number of public and private media centers and civil society institutions. These cultural and intellectual forums and book fairs have had a vital role in enriching the vision of the Sulaymaniyah as the Capital of Culture.
However, the number of annual cultural events held in the Province and their quality of organization and size of public attendance is still modest and does not meet the expectations. On the other hand, a number of institutions in charge of organizing cultural events are still complaining about the lack of staff, experience, and quality of service when compared to cultural events organized in the developed cities of the world. Hence, It is possible to merge cultural and tourism events to become a major tributary to the local economy of the Sulaymaniyah, with the presence of its international airport that can be used by visitors and participants, along with the two border crossings (Bashmakhin the Sulaymaniyah and Parwezkhan in the Garmian Administration) for those coming from Iran and the crossing points from the rest of Iraq’s provinces. Noteworthy, The Sulaymaniyah International Airport directly connects the Kurdistan Region to 12 international destinations, as well as Baghdad, Najaf and Basra.
Utilization of all resources, particularly human resources, for the implementation of the master plan for Sulaymaniyah as the Capital of Culture.