Dayna Ash is a Lebanese cultural and social activist, feminist, playwright, performance poet, and the Founder & Executive Director of the non-profit arts organization, Haven for Artists based in Beirut, Lebanon. She was named one of the BBC's 100 Women for 2019,[1] and received the 2020 Woman of Distinction award from NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York NGO/CSW/NY.[2]

Ash in 2020

Ash was born in Lebanon but raised in the United States.[1] She lived in California for sixteen years before moving to Beirut.[3]


Ash began her career in the arts as a spoken word poet.[3] In a response to one of Ash's spoken word pieces, Carolin Dylla described her as "the very real, unpretentious, tattooed incarnation of art’s most genuine capacities: to create beauty from anger and despair, and to explore ways to create meaning where rational explanation fails."[4] Her poem "Lullaby" was published online in Riwayya: A Space of Collision in 2015.[5]

Haven for ArtistsEdit

Ash founded Haven For Artists in 2010.[4] She currently serves as its Executive Director.[6] Haven For Artists is a non-profit in the Mar Mikhaël neighborhood of Beirut, which provides space for underground artists.[7] It received official status as a non-governmental organization in 2017.[3] In addition to fostering artists, Haven serves as "one of the only LGBTQ+ and women's safe spaces In Beirut."[6]

Haven's original goal was to organize events that brought artists together for shared performances, to reduce competition for exposure.[3] In 2016, Haven acquired a house in the Mar Mikhaël neighborhood to provide a more permanent space for performances, and to create a living and working space for artists.

As of 2016, Haven for Artists has produced annual exhibitions with international, regional, and local artists; held regular workshops on many artistic mediums, renovated two heritage houses in Beirut which acted as a safe space and shelter for LGBTQI and women’s community. HFA extended its network, skills, and tools to work on numerous campaigns for human rights while providing a platform and network for talented creatives. Havens' work merges art and activism through workshops, public discussions, and events.

In 2017, Haven was the temporary home of the English-language bookstore Aaliyah’s Books.[7] As of 2018, Haven provided four three-month artist residencies at a time.[7] The ground floor of the building hosts Concept 2092, which includes a cafe, co-working space, art exhibitions, and a concept store selling residents' work.[7] Acting as a safe and all-inclusive free space.[1]

In 2019, Ash and Haven were featured in Lebanese filmmaker Tania Safi's video series Shway Shway (meaning "Little by Little"), which highlights local activists.[6]

Other ActivismEdit

Ash currently hosts panels, talks, and workshops oriented around art for social change.

In 2014, Ash worked as a senior field officer for the NGO ACTED, supporting Syrian refugees.[8]

In October 2019, Ash participated in anti-government protests in Beirut.[9][10] The newspaper The National identified her as one of the leaders of "the frontline women" at protests that brought together women from many cultural backgrounds to advocate for their concerns as women.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "BBC 100 Women 2019: Who is on the list this year?". BBC News. October 16, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  2. ^ "2020 Woman of Distinction Award". NGO CSW/NY. 2020-01-09. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  3. ^ a b c d Alhashani, Omar (August 28, 2017). "Only Art Will Save Us". Khabar Keslan. No. 1. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Dylla, Carolin (December 17, 2014). "Creating beauty from anger and despair: Why Dayna Ash should have been "Person of the Year" 2014". The European. Archived from the original on March 31, 2018.
  5. ^ Ash, Dayna (March 1, 2015). "Lullaby". Riwayya: A Space of Collision. Archived from the original on June 7, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Safi, Tania. "Shway Shway". Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Macdonald, Kit (February 27, 2018). "Culture, clubbing and chaos: out with the locals in Beirut". The Guardian. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  8. ^ Al Fil, Omar (January 25, 2014). "24 Hours in Beirut with Dayna Ash". Beirut. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  9. ^ Safi, Tania (October 31, 2019). "'Revolution is a Woman': The Women at the Front of Lebanese Protests". The Feed. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Rose, Sunniva (October 24, 2019). "Lebanese women are breaking taboos to be face of protests". The National. Retrieved November 22, 2019.