A new campaign, reminding citizens of their cultural rights, has hit the streets of Cairo and Giza featuring startling imagery and provocative quotes. The campaign is endorsed by the Sawy Culture Wheel and is initiated by the National Group for Cultural Policies, operating under the Mawred Al Thaqafy organisation.
The Sawy centre will focus on displaying the posters in the lower-income areas in Cairo and Giza. Examples of the slogans used include: culture is not just in the Opera House, culture is in Tanta and Shubra; culture is not just for the cultured, culture is for all Egyptians; it is my right to colour; and it is my right to dance.
The campaign features beautiful, vivid images of Egypt and Egyptians and the slogans are chosen to emphasise that culture is not an abstract topic for discussion by intellectuals but is something that is directly relevant to all Egyptians in their everyday life. The posters were designed by artists Hamdy Reda, Osama Dawood and Sameh Ismael.
One of the posters prominently displays article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”
The campaign is a welcome step in a country where popular opinion rarely places cultural policy as a priority and where international law does not always feature in national policy.
The campaign aims to raise awareness on citizens’ cultural rights and garner public support and lay the groundwork to eventually create a national cultural policy for Egypt.
The National Group for Cultural Policies was founded in 2010 as an initiative by Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy and includes artists, intellectuals, academics and civil society representatives.
“The Group was founded before the revolution to propose policies and the drafts that were put forward were accepted by the parliament before it was disbanded,” said Wesam Ragab, Press and Communications Officer at Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy. “The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness that people have the access to culture and art as a legal right and that this should be recognised nationally as it is internationally.”
Al-Mawred is currently making a documentary film about cultural policy and is planning a press conference in December where more than 150 representatives of the independent cultural sector from Egypt, the Arab world, Europe and Turkey are expected to attend.
The campaign was launched last month and is expected to garner more attention now the Sawy centre has signed on and the organisers hope to reach more people and garner more support to establish cultural rights as a priority for national policy.