The political situation has forced many cultural venues to close either because of, or in support of, the recent protests over President Mohamed Morsy’s controversial constitutional declaration. The protests have spread from Tahrir Square to the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis and have spurred a number of cancellations in their wake.
Among the biggest venues to suspend activities were the Cairo Opera House and the Sawy Culture Wheel whose doors were both closed over the weekend.
The Sawy Culture Wheel told us that they closed Thursday, Friday and Saturday to mourn the lives lost during the clashes at the Presidential Palace.
On Friday the Opera House postponed all events and performances in Cairo, Alexandria and Damanhour. The Opera House confirmed Saturday that the activities in all their venues are cancelled until 11 December.
Studio Viennoise, who are hosting the On Photography exhibition at their Downtown location said they had cancelled their events on Friday and Saturday in support of the protests and because of the escalation of events.
“On one hand we closed down because of the events, but on the other hand we strive to continue operating not despite of the events but because of them. We see art as being a part of the revolution and we want to continue offering what we offer in support. We will take it day-by-day,” said Lamia Negm Eddin, part of the Studio Viennoise team.
The British Council postponed the hosting of the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference that was slated to take place on 7 – 8 December. “Of course it was disappointing to postpone the event after working on it for months, but we felt that it was appropriate to postpone it,” Cathy Costain, Head of Programmes Arts, said. The decision was taken on Thursday in time to cancel the travel arrangements for the international speakers.
The celebratory closing ceremony of the 35th Cairo International Film Festival was cancelled and replaced with a sober press conference in which the winners were announced. The CIFF had earlier postponed the festive opening event and opened one day later with a downscaled awards ceremony.
The cancellations mean anything but the marginalisation of the arts and culture scene in Egypt and are not surprising given the involvement of many artists in the revolution over the past two years. Many are supportive of the protests and the artistic community will likely continue to voice its opinion on the escalating situation in the country.