Recently, I have noticed something interesting with the giant billboards around the city. Television stations are actively and competitively advertising their Ramadan shows. This phenomena is an exciting one. Kuwait is the most active in the region when it comes to the entertainment industry and with a multitude of new shows coming to us these days it’s only logical that TV stations try to attract as many viewers as possible. But what if we take this a step further; think of year-round billboards dedicated to show business. Kuwait is very active in the entertainment business, we produce TV shows heavily prior to the month of Ramadan, and almost half of them air again after the Ramadan. We produce plays throughout the year, and sometimes even movies. This advertising can potentially translate into an urban communication tool.
I am thinking of Times Square in New York City. When you arrive at Times Square you are instantly at different zone and place. It’s as if you’re not in New York City anymore but in a bright and unreal place. The eye candy of Broadway shines and the gigantic flashing lights are so enticing that your eyes unintentionally gaze upon them rather than seeing where your heading. However, Times Square isn’t really a square. I remember being a bit disappointed when i first experienced it. It is in fact a leftover space between buildings that have two triangles opposing each other with some pedestrian spaces left behind. The islands between the streets that make up those triangles happened to be on Broadway where all the theaters are located. The show producers used this space because it was the most convenient to showcase their productions. All other streets are very linear with no chance of someone taking a glimpse while in a car or even walking. It was smart of them to have transformed that leftover and unique space into what is now one of the hottest tourist spots not only in New York city but in the entire world. That experience has changed my perception of the so called ‘square’. People have an innate ability to use public space in very imaginative ways. It becomes a stimulus for development and cultural evolution.
Why can’t this can happen here, since we are the pioneers in the entertainment business in the region? We should nominate a space in the city to transform it into a year round show case of works done locally, maybe even some big international productions. A sort of Entertainment District where art house film theaters and drama schools can provide some much needed culture and art.