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Yasmina Hatem

Beirut Open Stage

A fun, new initiative to share art

Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage
Beirut Open Stage

There was a full house last Sunday night for the first event of Beirut Open Stage. About 450 people gathered at Dictateur in Mar Mikhael, whether sitting at the bar, at a table or on the floor. Everyone was there to encourage the 20 artists participating, who were all bound by simple rules: one guitar, one mic, one song.

 

The atmosphere was lively and everyone clapped and sang along to the 20 cover songs interpreted by emerging artists. This atmosphere is exactly what the Beirut Open Stage founder had in mind. He doesn’t want to share his name, but he wants to help share art, in all its forms, in a “fun and simple way.” He says Beirut Open Stage is a collaborative between people who share the same love of arts, and want to encourage it.

 

“The idea,” he says, “was to create something like a camp fire atmosphere. When we were kids, we’d have fun like that all the time.” A guitar around a camp fire, a bunch of people singing along: fun in its simplest form. Then the idea evolved into something more: sharing art. “Through events, like the one on Sunday, and through different activities, we will help give exposure to any artist who has something to show.”

 

The singers who performed on Sunday didn’t go through an audition, they just had to fill out a simple form. “Most applicants sent us links to their work, demos on Youtube for example or on their blogs - that’s how we prioritize.”

 

Every person in attendance was given a “one vote” ticket, and some 330 people cast a vote with the name of their favorite artist. The winner, Mayssa Jallad, will get to shoot a music video of one of her original songs. “This is another way to give artists exposure, plus in the video, we plan to shoot at different forgotten places in Lebanon.”

 

It was the first time Jallad has won a singing competition. A 5th year architecture student at AUB, it was whilst she was walking around campus one day that she saw the Beirut Open Stage poster. “I was immediately hooked,” she says. “I went on the website, filled in the form, and two weeks later they told me I was in.” “The experience was awesome,” she explains. “The crowd was great, and the atmosphere was so nice we even did a second song, even though we had only prepared one.” Jallad sang to an accompaniment by Elie Abdelnour on the guitar.

 

During Sunday’s event, the newcomers were also joined by more established Lebanese artists, including Ralph Asfour (Treehoppers), Serge Yared and Fadi Tabbal (The Incompetents), Charlie Rayne, Wassim Bou Malham (Who Killed Bruce Lee), and Julia Sabra and Marwan Tohme (Postcards).  “It was an honor for us to have them join us,” says the BOS founder, “it shows that they encourage the idea and the artists, and we get to promote their own work.”

 

Beirut Open Stage is not just about music. Hanging on the wall in Dictateur was a painting by Chadi Aoun, and on stage was a chair designed by Henri Dakak, showing something of the range of artists the collaborative will support. In future events, BOS plans to showcase poets, fashion designers, painters, illustrators, graphic designers, industrial designers, photographers and more.

 

“It’s very original,” says the winner, Jallad, about the BOS concept, “I think it’s a very interesting type of competition. Even though there was a rule, it was very flexible. I can’t wait to see the next events.”

 

As for financing, Beirut Open Stage is a non-for-profit, and used the money generated by ticket sales to pay for the event itself. “Nobody is doing this for the money. It’s about sharing art and music, meeting new people, discovering new artists, and most importantly having a good time. We’re doing it because we enjoy it, because we love it. Simple as that.”

 

For more information, you can visit the initiative's Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of Nadim Kamel)

The crowd was great, and the atmosphere was so nice we even did a second song