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Although Iraq is safer than in the darkest days of sectarian violence, many of its artists, filmmakers, musicians and performers say they are being stifled by religious conservatism and, with the government focused on reconstruction and security, missing the state support they once enjoyed.
Iraq's holiest Shiite city, Najaf, will become an Islamic Capital of Culture next year. The Najaf celebrations are part of broad efforts by Iraqi authorities to put the country back on the cultural map after the US-led invasion of 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein led to years of brutal sectarian war. Preparations, however, are running well-behind schedule.
We know about the devastation and looting but what impact has war had on Iraq's artistic heritage? Seven years after the invasion, Hadani Ditmars returns to Baghdad to find out.
Andrew Mitchelson of the Live Art Development Agency reports back on his research trip - part funded by VA - to Iraq Kurdistan earlier this year and the contemporary art scene that is thriving there against all the odds.
The Iraqi Ministry of Culture has just taken the unexpected step of launching a program of official censorship of books imported from abroad. The new rule also applies to books published within Iraq, as publishers are required to obtain authorization before printing.
It was achievement enough that the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra managed to survive the darkest days of the war, when it struggled for supplies and electricity, when its members fled for safety abroad and those who remained practiced in secret for fear of offending militants who considered music un-Islamic.