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The inaugural Art for Tomorrow conference in Doha offers a critical analysis of the regional art scene

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Renowned architects Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas are among a host of big names set to deliver talks at The International New York Times Art for Tomorrow conference in Qatar.

Taking place from 14 to 16 March in Doha, the conference will explore the changing dynamics of art and architecture and their potential to change people and places. Guests drawn from the arts and public and private sectors are attending the event, as well as tourism experts, city planners and business developers.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, a global advocate of art and culture, will open the inaugural event that features global leaders in their fields; from artists and architects to museum and gallery directors, cultural ministers and financial experts.

Speakers include Al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums; Arthur Sulzberger, chairman and publisher of The New York Times Company & The New York Times; Savita Apte, director of Art Dubai; Ali Güreli, chairman of Contemporary Istanbul; and Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze Art Fairs. Amongst the 24 speakers is Nouvel, who designed the upcoming Louvre Abu Dhabi and received the Lion d’Or at the Venice Biennale in 2000. He is also the man behind the design of the National Museum of Qatar, which is currently under construction at a cost of $434 million. Koolhaas, who is also a professor at Harvard University, is globally renowned as an architectural theorist and urbanist famous for works such as the Casa da Música in Porto and the Seattle Central Library.

The Miraculous Journey, public art commission by British artist Damien Hirst, Statue 10, Qatar. Photo by Nadine Al Koudsib

The Miraculous Journey, public art commission by British artist Damien Hirst, Statue 10, Qatar. Photo by Nadine Al Koudsib

Amongst the keynote addresses will be a discussion of the Bilbao Effect, with Bilbao a watchword for urban, social and cultural regeneration driven by the arrival of a global art institution housed in a piece of signature architecture. A generation has passed since the BilbaoGuggenheim opened. What has Bilbao learned, and what can we learn from it?

Cultural Districts and how a city redefines itself will also be discussed. Cities across the globe — 90 of them in the US alone — are creating ‘cultural districts’ that are characterised by mixed-use building types and high concentrations of cultural facilities such as museums, galleries, studios for art, music, dance or moviemaking, libraries and public spaces. But there is “necessarily an imposition, a sense of ‘importing’ the cultural content that might sit uneasily with existing assets. ‘Gentrification’ may be seen as a negative. What are the key factors in establishing a successful cultural district and minimising such backlash?”

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Art Issue  #29, on page 20.