Institutions are at the forefront of much prevalent reportage about the Middle East, which is often dominated by headline-grabbing discourse concentrating on large museum-building projects in the oil-rich Gulf states. Yet vibrant, alternative, small-and medium-scale arts institutions, galleries and residency programmes are mushrooming throughout the region. What are the alternative, possibly less expensive, models for building arts institutions in the region that can be implemented by others? What are the guiding principles behind this process of institution-building? This panel proposes to establish a framework within which to explore a new breed of successful activist projects and how they can grow into larger institutions that support independent, innovative programming. It will also look at how arts institutions can develop knowledge about the potential of patrons to effect real change and provide a platform for supporting arts initiatives.