Damanhour Culture Center, run by the Culture Development Fund (Photo: Visual Arts Sector)
The month of Ramadan is probably the most hectic for the Cultural Development Fund, one of the sectors operating under the Ministry of Culture.
The Fund is responsible for a large number of creativity centers in Cairo, festivals across Egypt, public libraries in 24 governorates, and revamping culture spaces.
It also oversees the organisation of the large number of activities tailored specifically for the holy month, aimed at providing inspiring evenings that will culminate a long day of fasting.
Though the complete detailed programming of the Fund's activities for the month of Ramadan has not yet been revealed, the management of the fund shared with Ahram Online some highlights.
We know that the Fund draws on a rich agenda of events that will spread over 11 cultural centres, some operating directly under the Fund, others lending its space to it.
A number of performances are planned to take place in Al Amir Taz Palace, the Creativity Centre, and Talaat Harb Centre, in addition to traditional music nights at El Harrawi House, and nights at Sett Wasila House.
The Ramadan schedule will also offer nights of Sufi poetry, book fairs and craft exhibits, and workshops yet to be announced to the public.
In July, Hanager cinema will lend its space to the Fund for a week of short film screenings. The films are directed by Egypt's leading filmmakers such as Youssef Chahine, Mohamed Khan, Aly Badrakhan, Khairy Beshara, Dawood Abdel Sayed, and Salah Abo Seif.
The Cultural Development Fund is probably one of the most dynamic sectors operating under the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. Despite the many challenges, it is this sector that over past years has infused Egypt's cultural life with numerous valuable activities and palpable achievements.
Currently headed by Mohamed Abou Seada, the cultural body was created in 1989 with the goal to support generating funds and as such boost the development of the culture scene. Among its pillar activities, the Fund focuses on and oversees restoration of important cultural locations, as well as managing the organisation of numerous cultural festivals in the fields of visual arts, theatre and cinema.
Many of those festivals – such as one of the youngest ones, the International Festival for Drums and Traditional Arts -- garners big scores of audiences.
Among other notable and more established events managed by the Fund is the Aswan Sculpture Symposium, The Children’s Cinema Festival, The Luxor International Painting Symposium, the National Festival for Theatre, Cairo International Biennial of Arabic Calligraphy Art and the International Animation Forum.
Focusing also on organising the restoration of important cultural locations, the Fund infuses life into numerous historical venues that have been otherwise shut down.
This initiative started in 1996 with the renovating of El Harrawi House in Al-Azhar area and since then, the Cultural Development Fund has completed 23 of such projects including the 14th century Amir Taz Palace and the equally old Qasr Bashtak (Palace of Bashtak), the 16th century Al-Ghoury complex, Beit El Seheimy, the 18th century house with the remarkable mashrabeyas overlooking the street, among many other gems scattered around historic Fatimid Cairo.
But the Fund also operates outside the Islamic Cairo area. Most recently, the Fund concluded restoration of the historical Aisha Fahmy Palace located in Zamalek. The management and decisions on actual activities planned to take place in Aisha Fahmy Palace are now given to the visual arts sector – another department operating under the Ministry of Culture.
Among other noteworthy venues operated by the Fund are many creativity centres: the Om Kalthoum Museum, the International Music Centre (which was operating in the Manesterly palace, though was moved to the Arab Institute), the Alexandria Creativity Centre, and 16 other locations offering stable programming to its audiences.