Samiha Ayoub, recipient of State Award Nile Prize 2015 (Photo: Al-Ahram Weekly)
On 13 June, Members of Egypt's Supreme Council for Culture (SCC), headed by Minister of Culture Abdel Wahed El-Nabawy, and SCC Secretary General Mohammed Afifi, oversaw the annual meeting to vote on the State Awards for art, literature, and social sciences.
Renowned Egyptian actress Samiha Ayoub received this year’s Nile Award in Arts, claiming a gold medal and LE400,000, the highest prize of the State Awards granted to three people with one going to the arts.
Ayoub is best known as a theatre actress, with works including Al-Bakheel (The Miser), Kobry al-Namoos (Mosquito Bridge) and Sikkat al-Salama (The Right Way).
She was director of Al Qawmy theatre and The Modern Theatre during the late 1970s.
The SCC also voted on 10 Appreciation Awards, with three for the arts, offering LE200,000, plus a gold medal.
The renowned film director Said Marzouk received the Appreciation Award in the field of arts.
Marzouk, who passed away in 2014, is known for his 1975 drama Oreed Hallan (I Want a Solution), featuring Faten Hamama and other notable films including Zawgaty Wa Al-Kalb (My Wife and The Dog, 1971), and Gonoun Al-Hayah (Life's Madness, 1999).
The other two recipients of the Appreciation Award are prolific artist Nagy Shaker and violinist Hassan Sharara.
Shaker is best known for his contributions to Egypt's puppet theatre. In the 1960s, he was chief designer for El-Leila El-Kebira, Cairo's iconic marionette musical.
Sharara is head of the Strings Department and the former Dean of the Cairo Conservatory.
Of the seven Excellency Awards granted by the state, two are for the arts, offering each recipient LE100,000, plus a silver medal.
The Excellency Award in Arts went to the renowned musician Hani Shenouda and the plastic artist Hussein El-Ezaby.
Among the 32 Encouragement Awards, there are eight for the arts with a prize value of LE50,000 each.
These awards went to artist Klay Kassem, composer Bassam Ahmed Halqa and Ahmed Bahy El-din Al A’asasy for music. Two more went to Khaled Walid Abdelshafy Raslan for theatre criticism on the book ‘Al Talee’a Fel Masrah El-Masry: Men Al-Markaz Ela Al-Hamesh,’ and Gamal Yaqout for theatrical directing of his play ‘Al Fadda Al-Mozdawaga Lel Doctor Al-Balmy.’
The three remaining Encouragement Awards, for cinema directing, furniture design and architectural design, remain unannounced.
Months prior to the meeting state cultural institutions submitted their nominations for the awards to the SCC. As always, the SCC’s 64 appointed members vote for the winners, but this year, for the first time, the voting was digitalised.
The State Awards were launched in 1958 and have only been cancelled once, in 1967, during the Six Day War between Egypt and Israel.