Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award

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Rapper Kanye West with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud

The facade of the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, was lit up successful neon Friday nighttime for a property league with the Saudi Tourism Authority. A typical of the Ministry of Tourism announced the kingdom’s inaugural Freedom of Expression Art Prize, presented successful concern with banking elephantine HSBC and pizza edifice concatenation Papa John’s, which is acceptable to unfastened its eighth determination successful the state — its archetypal successful the oasis metropolis of Al-’Ula — this summer. 

The prize awards 1 creator 3,753,760 Saudi Riyal (about $1 million). There are nary restrictions connected however the creator whitethorn walk the money, but that nether nary circumstances tin they usage it to knock Saudi Arabia. The Freedom of Expression Art Prize besides includes a meet-and-greet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and a ceremonial authorities banquet successful grant of the winner. Following dinner, they volition beryllium treated to a backstage Beyoncé concert. Artists with less than 1 cardinal Instagram followers are not encouraged to apply.

“We recognize Saudi Arabia has a branding problem,” a spokesperson for the Saudi Tourism Authority told Hyperallergic. “While we person an unfortunate estimation arsenic a authorities that commits immoderate of the worst quality rights violations connected earth, we privation the kingdom to beryllium seen arsenic an planetary destination for creation and culture.”

Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the artists shortlisted for the prize.

“Honoring specified accomplished artists would assistance america nonstop a connection to the satellite that KSA has entered a caller modern property for luxury tourists and businesspeople,” said the spokesman. 

Editor’s Note, 4/1/2023: We misunderstood an facet of the prize — the victor volition beryllium allowed to beryllium successful connected a five-minute Zoom with Beyoncé, not be a backstage concert. We regret the error.

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