Art Heals: Displaced Lebanese Children Find Refuge in Theatre Workshops

Children in Lebanon

Displaced children in southern Lebanon are finding solace and a chance to heal through art therapy, thanks to a collaborative effort by the Tiro Association for Arts (TAA) and the Istanbouli Theater. The program takes place at the free Lebanese National Theater in Tyre, offering a safe haven for young people uprooted by war and natural weather disasters like earthquakes.

TAA’s innovative “Peace Art Bus,” launched in 2018, ferries children from both public schools and border villages directly to the theater workshops. These sessions provide a vibrant mix of creative outlets, including drama, painting,crafting, puppetry, storytelling, and film screenings.

Peace Art Bus
Peace Art Bus

“Cultural resistance is crucial during these challenging times,” says Kassem Istanbouli, the actor, director, and founder of the Lebanese National Theater. “These workshops offer a space for expression and freedom, helping children grapple with the emotional toll and trauma of war.”

Led by a dedicated team of young people and volunteers, TAA has a larger vision: fostering free and accessible cultural spaces throughout Lebanon. This includes the inspiring renovation of several cinemas: Al Hamra and Stars Cinemas in Nabatieh, Rivoli Cinema in Tyre (transformed into the first free theater and cinema in Lebanon, the Lebanese National Theater), and Empire Cinema in Tripoli (another Lebanese National Theater).

TAA’s impact goes beyond workshops. They offer artistic training programs for children, young adults, and individuals with disabilities. They actively renovate and maintain cultural centers, curate festivals and art exhibitions, and screen educational and artistic films for young audiences.

Building bridges within the artistic community is another cornerstone of TAA’s mission. They forge partnerships with international festivals, providing a platform for aspiring directors to showcase their work. Additionally, TAA screens films with accessibility features for the blind and deaf, conducts workshops specifically designed for people with special needs,and organizes a diverse range of festivals, including the prestigious Lebanese International Theater Festival and the Tripoli International Theater Festival.

Through their unwavering commitment and creative approach, the Tiro Association for Arts is offering a beacon of hope and a powerful tool for healing – artistic expression – to displaced children and the wider Lebanese community.


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