6th Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival kicks off

Fatma Khaled, Friday 17 Mar 2017

This year’s D-CAF festival takes place between 17 March and 8 April

D-CAF 2017 (Photo: part of promotional material by D-Caf)

The Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) hosted a VIP opening on Thursday that gathered Egyptian and foreign artists as it gears up for its 6th edition, which will run between 17 March and 8 April.

The brainchild of arts manager Ahmed El-Attar, D-CAF is a multi-disciplinary contemporary arts festival taking place across numerous locations in Downtown Cairo.

The opening included little glimpses of art performances by Egyptian children from Darb El-Ahmar Arts School (DAAS), in addition to a jazz performance by Cacoon band.

El-Attar, the founder and director of the festival, gave a speech mentioning the importance of supporting D-CAF’s existence as they’re on the search for more companies.

“We tend to forget that art and culture are important in our daily lives. It restores hope that makes us move forward,” El-Attar said.

He then invited the guests to purchase ‘Golden Tickets’ at whatever price they find suitable in efforts to support two segments of the festival: Art and Disability, and Egyptian Performances.

Throughout the past editions, a large number of Egyptian and international artists have participated in numerous segments of the festival, presenting music, theatre, visual arts and street events.

D-CAF has also been attracting an increasing number of audiences. The festival's website points to 2,800 audience members in 2012 to approximately 10,000 in 2016.

"Every year D-CAF presents something new. This time we are focusing on promoting disability arts through three performances that tackle mental disability, with artists from Ireland, Holland, and Switzerland as a first entry attempt in the Arab world," El-Attar told Ahram Online.

This year’s programme continues to present events spanning performing arts, music, film, literature and visual arts, in addition to special events, such as Arts and Disability, and the Arab Art Focus.

As such, the festival’s Performing Arts segment will feature contemporary performances by French choreographer Jérôme Bel and Theater Hora.

The shows will include The Rite of Spring (Spain), Nights with El-Warsha 1- Doomsday (Egypt), Disabled Theater (Switzerland), Cloture De L’amour by Pascal Rambert (France), and street performances by Hungary, the UK, Egypt, Ireland, and the Netherlands, among others.

"The contemporary dances/ performances will take to Sultan Ahmed Street and the newly renovated courtyard in the Qaitbay School and Mosque," said El-Attar.

The music programme will include a variety from France, Egypt, and Denmark, such as Project 99 (Music and poetry), Yassin El-Tohamy (Sufi) and Amir El-Saffar (Jazz and contemporary music).

D-CAF will be collaborating with Zawya Cinema to screen its multi-cultural film and literature programme, including Incendies (Canada), Monsier Lazhar (Canada), and a public play reading by Bashir Lazhar.

"The blend of literature and film this year helps promote the concept of adaptation," adds El-Attar.

The festival’s visual arts this year will display the history of contemporary art in Cairo through the Cairo Museum of Contemporary Art (CAMOCA).

Some displays will include Adelita Husni-Bey, Manuel Pelmus, Brad Butler and others who aim to challenge the traditional exhibition display and protocols of museums, according to D-CAF’s website.

The Arts and Disability segment will run a special programme conducted by Swiss group, Theater Hora, British Act, Stopgap Dance Company, and Dutch dancer Joop Oonk.

Another special segment of the festival, the Arab Art Focus (AAF) will include works by Arab artists that develop sustainable contemporary arts held in the region.

The festival will also provide educational workshops of diverse culture such as Into the Wild Workshop: theater and dance from Switzerland, 30 Years of El-Warsha in Pictures (Egyptian Photography Exhibition), and The Question is African Dance (an Egyptian-based dancing workshop).

Pulling this year's programming was particularily challenging mainly due to the November 2016 flotation of the Egyptian pound, which has doubled its costs.

El-Attar explained to Ahram Online that the festival managed to overcome this mainly due to the generous support received from the embassies of the countries participating in the festival.

Check the D-CAF’s complete programme here

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