Thursday, January 04, 2007



I'm not cut out for blogging - it' always last on my list of thing to do. So I realise I haven't added a post since last September, and the excuse is it's been a hectic and exhausting three months. But we have made a great deal of progress. Our touring programme attendance reached 37,229 by the end of 2006, we have around $10 million in donations to the project, and we have got past some major hurdles on the road to creating the discovery centre.

Most of these have been to do with the site, where we have created the structure of our strategic planning framework, and possibly - finally - settled the vexed question about terms of occupancy and assigned rights from the Ministry that is the site's owner. We have also appointed the architects to work with us - a draining process but with a great eventual outcome. The competition was extremely strong and making a final selection was immensely difficult. However, we have finally decided on Henning Larsen Architects, a practice based in Copenhagen. their website is at They are great people, with a track record of imaginative and distinctive buildings, and we are looking forward to getting them on board.

The challenges for 2007 are going to be to avoid being stretched too thin between Massar and Trust work, to expand the team without losing the very close-knit feel we have at present, and to keep focussed on the big goals rather than the stuff that clutters up my desk every day. We also have to confirm our funding from government - just a small detail. On top of this the immediate tasks are to finalise our specification for space in the Lattakia cultural centre, where we have been allocated c300m2 as long as we can fit it out and occupy it by June. And to talk with the Ministry of Communications about their plans for a technology museum, which looks now as if its on-off-on existence is going to end as off, so there may be some money going begging there too.

The other major challenge looks like being keeping our project partner, the Governorate of Damascus, up to speed. So far, they have done next to nothing, and are late on delivering several things before the project has really got started. A diplomatic challenge to look forward to.


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