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The Question of Funding (QoF) collective grew out of long conversations in connected ecosystems in Palestine and the Arab world. We belong to a generation of artists and cultural practitioners who survive on donor’s economy. In Palestine in particular this has been quite palpable after the Oslo Accords of 1993. The Oslo accords planned to be not only a compromised slow peace process turned into an opportunity for more land grab, annexation and dispossession for Palestinains, but also the beginning of neoliberalization (as opposed to liberation), individualism and co-dependency on international donors. Older Art and cultural institutions transformed into NGOs, and new ones were based on the depoliticised model. This is the hegemonic form of cultural institutions in Palestine since the mid nineties to today. The consequences of this ideological and economic dependency has among many other, according to Hanafi and Tabar in their book “The Emergence of a Palestinian Globalised Elite” contributed to disengage the grassroots organisations from the political and economical spheres and their constituencies in Palestine “re-embedding (of) the social relations with international organisations, financial institutions and European and North American Governments” (Hanafi & Tabar, 2005:28). The ramifications of this NGOisation of civil society in Palestine are colossal, however the funding/donor’s economy culture is familiar to others in cultural institutions and spheres all around the globe. We see how funding bodies and sponsors influence decisions, censor exhibitions, and condition discourse. However both independent contemporary art practitioners and institutions are aware of those dynamics, some refuse to adhere to some of its policies, both in public and clandestinely through ‘tricking the system’.

In Palestine, even though cultural practitioners and civil society workers have learned through practice to transvest conditional funding, there is a general agreement that it remains to condition cultural production and knowledge. However the situation is such that there usually seems to be very few alternatives. The discussion amongst NGO worker peers hits a dead-end after complaining about this donor culture and the agreement that ‘something’ needs to be done about it. The situation in Palestine is such that there are no alternative infrastructures. The Palestinian Authority itself depends on international funding, and is heavily conditioned politically by it, it does not fund institutions nor practitioners. Palestinian economy is a subeconomy of its colonizer, Israel, as it controls roads, borders, export-import laws and conditions..etc., so one reaches a dead -end for alternative economic support for cultural institutions. Yet there have been quite some amazing attempts in recent years. 1

There are already several ways and routes taken by cultural practitioners to build alternative ways of survival and sustenance. One of those we have collaborated with in order to chronicle their ways of transvestment 2 is the artist collective Eltiqa’. They have managed to remain a collective, not register as an NGO and run a space which is open to younger artists for the past twenty years in one of the most dystopian places on earth, Gaza. Through divesting usual art funding channels they redistribute the resources in a different way which funding conditions them to, such as becoming an institution. We have detailed many anecdotes and examples while also including what context these interactions and exchanges are taking place within the exhibition in documenta fifteen, where the members’ paintings were also shown. Several other facets of our discussions and questions took shape in publications about grassroot economies as children’s and young adults’ books. Yet it is Dayra which we hope would be more of an economic structural intervention.

Dayra is a medium that uses blockchain technology for circulating communal economic value, by helping the community to measure, and exchange the value of their local resources in the absence of money. It is an Arabic word meaning circle and circulating. It is a noun and a verb, where the act of sharing, and circulating local resources helps the community to maintain its wealth. The model starts with the premise that individuals but also local organizations, cooperatives, and associations who have no funds to sustain their operations but have (and are) an abundance of resources and knowledge of varying types, whether they are material, physical, or intellectual. The medium thus aims to generate and store value through the act of exchanging and putting to use resources for the common good.

Dayra started from a discussion about Muneh (an Arabic word which refers to a historical lavantian tradition of provisions for the future, within the discussion of QoF it came to mean the pot of resources). The idea was to invite different cultural institutions to share resources such as equipment, member’s skills, time…etc. Another set of events which propelled it were conditions faced during the pandemic in Palestine. Many daily workers in the service sector became unemployed. Simultaneously local Palestinain cultural institutions called for a meeting with funders to argue for an increase in funding because of the pandemic. A question propelled by those two ongoing crises was: why do cultural institutions see themselves outside of the wider economic crisis? We started to think of some kind of economical network which allows different economies in society to connect. While we (QoF) were trying to look for models we were also trying to find or to produce structures.

While being members in the lumbung (documenta fifteen) our interest in ‘liberating’ money grew. In documenta fifteen others referred to it as transvestment, while we call it ‘liberation’ of money from one hegemonic system into another which liberates the money from donor conditions. It was an interest to return to the essence of money as a medium of exchange rather than a medium of speculation and financial industry. Neoliberal structures, such as finance, took over the practices of economy. We wanted to address the economy as a political practice. Economy is about interdependence. Money should not be wealth. The wealth of a community is the existing resources of a community. We saw money only as a medium of exchange rather than where wealth is stored.

We started by making assemblies with agricultural workers. When we started, compost was our medium of exchange. Slowly we discovered this might be limiting, so we started to do research on different forms of cooperatives around us. We also hosted colleagues and members in learning sessions on local currencies, focusing on how community currencies work.

We are now building the architecture of an application for Dayra. Below are different principles, values, and questions we are still attempting to resolve. We hope that these might help inspire others:

1. Funding based on abundance instead of on scarcity

Dayra functions in a way where the community funds itself while circulating its resources. It self- funds with an abundance of resources.

2. Dayra is based on the circulation of communal debt

Dayra begins from a point of interdependencies. We are indebted to each other, when using Dayra we acknowledge this. We engage in a process of circulating debt. Debt becomes a communal resource; to be indebted to the community means you are part of it.

3. Non-trust based technology practiced within trust communal structures

We use the technology of the blockchain; a trustless tool. We are engulfing it with a community based governance system which is trust based. Using the technology as a medium for socially based infrastructure, the technology becomes only a tool.

4. Funding bottom up. Funds are produced by community sharing their existing resources (communal wealth)

Funds start from zero and build up by sharing resources. Value here is not for building assets, but rather for the act of sharing. What produces value is not assets but rather the sharing of the assets, its circulation within the community.

5. Circular by design

Members cannot accumulate Dayra. It is a medium of circulation and not accumulation. The structure is made so that Dayra is a medium for the continuous circulation of resources.

6. No accumulation of Dayra

If a member attempts to accumulate Dayra, they cannot use it anymore. Members have to keep sharing and using Dayra for it to maintain value.

7. Interdependency between different small economies

One of the aims of Dayra is to connect small and fragile economies together, because it is based on the diversity of economies (artists, freelancers, farmers…)

8. No inflation or deflation. Caps on wallets. Dayra is generated out of expanding members and ecosystem users

Dayra expands with every member, and declines along with their absence. One cannot accumulate a certain amount of Dayras, the relation between the Dayras in circulation and the ones available in the system is always equal. It cannot become a medium of derivatives and speculation. We cannot use financial policies on it, like what is happening now with money. It should remain a very basic medium of exchange.

9. Minting the act of sharing, value based on circulation (against NFT)

Value is produced from the act of sharing, it is not an asset in itself. We are not trying to create NFTs, which produce value for digital assets. Dayra is not an NFT in the sense that we are trying to produce value for the communal exchange processes.

10. Local wealth and extraction: keeping local wealth within the community. One can’t use Dayra outside of its local ecosystem

Every ecosystem can create its own Dayra, it is not our aim that it is globally used. We would be extracting wealth if we do that. Dayra should give value to communal wealth, if we transfer this to other stronger economies Dayra will disappear into that wealth. Through Dayra we attempt to circulate local resources and avoid investing in imported goods, as this is wealth which will leave the community. It is also about encouraging local ecosystems in supporting each other, especially in times of hardship.

11. Validation points as a way to communicate to the shared wealth

The system is divided into two point systems: Dayra and validation points. Validation points are the debt received when a member joins Dayra. Those validation points are in the communal pot already, what members can do is to transfer them, or validate someone else’s act of sharing through one’s points. Validation points are a declaration of the communal debt. Through points systems, individuals are able to communicate with the common pot.

12. Governance moves from a centralized system towards a decentralized system

Dayra is a centralized system. It starts with governance by members of the Dayra working group or QoF while slowly building tools it will transform into decentralized governance, involving all members.

13. Issues of arbitration and disagreements

Part of what QoF is trying to deal with within the social systems section of Dayra application, is about how to disagree and how to create models and ways of finding resolutions. We are trying to find a way of how the larger community can intervene to solve issues.

14. It is not crypto, it is not currency, it is not a coin…pushing blockchain outside of the fin-tech

We are using blockchain technology in Dayra. Blockchain has lost its potential, as crypto currencies are used to reproduce speculative economies but with a different technology. We return to the basics and promise of what blockchain can give us. We don’t treat Dayra as a national currency, because it is not. We’re trying to use other basic terms, such as points, units, tokens, or simply just Dayra.


1. Such as RAWA Fund and Imm Sulaiman Farm.

2. Transvestment (Dmytri Kleiner & Baruch Gottlieb) is a macro-economic accounting identity which elaborates the exchange of value between domains of the economy under control of capitalist modes of production and autonomous domains which are outside of direct capitalist value extraction practices.