Originally founded as a public library in Zouk Mikaël during the 1940’s, this municipal facility was re-established in April of 2009 as the Youth and Culture Center.
Lebanon’s 15-year civil war greatly hindered the development of the library’s services. It wasn’t until peacetime that the Municipality of Zouk Mikaël called upon a new generation of young architects to conceive a cultural complex, both modern and traditional. In collaboration with the Lebanese University of Fine Arts (ALBA), recognition for achievement was won in a competition launched by the university: this was Lebanon’s first approach at municipal participation.
With the architectural part achieved, this “dream” project had to be financed. The municipal budget was by no means grand, yet with the striving economy, budget management and rationalization of expenditures, the city of Zouk Mikaël managed to inaugurate in April 2009 the first municipal cultural complex in Lebanon: the Youth and Culture Center (YCC).
YCC is divided into three main areas:
1. The multimedia center offers a large and diverse collection of CDs, DVDs and also Internet and WIFI services, while a library displays a large selection of books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, magazines, newspapers, etc. available in the three languages that are primarily spoken in Lebanon (Arabic, French and English). The current fund received a generous donation from the city of Rueil-Malmaison – France, by the Mayor Mr. Patrick OLLIER, as well as other donations from international institutes, local universities (ALBA, Antonine University, Balamand, LAU, NDU, Sagesse, USEK and USJ) and several publishing houses in Lebanon.
2. The theater of 100 seats, including a backstage and an intermission space, turned into a museum with the NAWL of Zouk beauties, hosts performances for all ages and artistic inclinations. It can also be used as a cinema because of its technological equipment.
3. A literary cafe (still being equipped) will host writers, poets and humanists from all over the world, and offers a comfortable space where unique literature and readings will be enjoyed through discussions and conferences. This cafe aims to establish direct and positive links between the author and the audience, the book and its readers.
Vision and Mission
YCC is municipal center that acts as an incubator for interaction and development aiming to:
- create a space for dialogue, which seeks to increase communication among all segments of society.
- promote a sense of participatory democracy and citizenship through meetings and exchanges.
- familiarize the public with new technologies by providing training and access to the Internet, social media and regular and open source software.
- promote culture and art as catalysts for universal communication.
- provide a space for reading and support active involvement in the learning process by encouraging the formation of research groups eager for knowledge and learning.
- empower and promote young artists and talents by building their capacity and offering them a venue to produce themselves and interact with the public.
- offer a free space of dialogue for civil society organizations.
YCC is a municipal and public service of the city of Zouk Mikaël; thus, the city council defied all the administrative and bureaucratic constraints to create two new jobs and hire a librarian and a coordinator of cultural activities.
Yet, this public foundation relies first on the participation of the locals to ensure the success of its mission. This is why a larger team supports the organization and the strategic planning of YCC. A number of experts, recruited from the local youth in the city collaborate in the management of the center, the conceptualization and the setting of the programs. This is part of the participatory approach that the city of Zouk Mikaël initiates among the local population. This pioneering measure goes beyond the success of organized activities, and entices civic engagement of the youth in the city that can make use of their experiences and professional potential. Currently, YCC is headed by a director on a voluntary basis. She is assisted by a dozen young collaborators, all working in team spirit.
The ongoing education of the team develops its strengths: YCC’s director undertook trainings on the management of a cultural center in France; the librarian is being continuously trained by the Ministry of Culture and the association Assabil; the cultural coordinator was trained by Microsoft to be able to provide computer training sessions on Microsoft software.
In April 2009, the YCC was still in preparation and organization. Thousands of books and publications were made available in a period of a few months. Thus, choosing a high-quality cataloging system was a necessary and immediate action. This was accomplished by resorting to local experts and the hard work of the YCC team for twelve months in order to index the 45,000 books received through the generous donations from the city of Rueil-Malmaison, along with Zouk Mikaël, and from different universities and publishing houses in Lebanon. Finally, 30,000 titles were selected to establish the fund in the learning center, which is currently open to the public.
During the 18 months following the inauguration, YCC organized more than 250 cultural activities in collaboration with various actors of the civil society, local and regional NGOs, embassies and cultural centers, international organizations, universities and young artists.
This approach was intended to consolidate the local population around center and introduce it to as many players as possible as well as open it to various spaces, including the media.
These activities also aimed to raise the bridges of dialogue between the mosaic of different cultures of Lebanon, and the cultures of the countries in surrounding regions of the Mediterranean, most notably the ones with which Lebanon shares languages and heritage. YCC also took part in national cultural events, hence contributing to the national cultural demarches.
- Head of Organization: Nouhad NAUFAL, Mayor of Zouk Mikaël
- Programs and PR Director: Eliane FERSAN
- Program Coordinator: Joelle EL-BITTAR
- Pedagogical Advisor: Suzanne FERSAN ZEIDAN
- Animator: Elise YAZBECK MOUSSA
- Trainer: Swaleen ABBOUD