Parliamentary Session (Photo: Reuters)
A delegation from the National Culture Policy Group (NCPG) presented a summary of Egyptian cultural policy to parliament's committee on culture, tourism and media at the invitation of committee head Mohamed Abdel-Moneim El-Sawy.
The delegation included Heba Sherif, professor of comparative literature at Cairo University and regional head of the Swiss Cultural Centre; artist Hamdy Reda, founder and manager of Cairo's Artellewa Gallery; Yasser Garab, manager of developmental cultural projects at the Beit Al-Medina Gallery; Yasser Allam, professor of fine arts; and Basma El-Husseiny, founder and director of Al-Mawred Al-Thakafi.
The NCPG includes 25 academics, artists, writers and cultural activists from across the spectrum of arts and literature. The group was formed on a volunteer basis in September 2010. Following last year's revolution, it began setting a vision for proposed cultural polices in Egypt. The group is also working to streamline the culture ministry's operations.
Proposed policies were welcomed by members of parliament's culture committee. Committee members agreed to establish a special sub-committee including culture ministry representatives who participated at the meeting, such as Ahmed Megahed, Mohamed Abo Saada, Khaled Abdel-Galil and Saad Abdel-Rahman. The proposed committee will also include NCPG representatives and four sitting MPs (Helmy El-Gazar, Sayed Kady, Hassan Abo Azm and Hamdy Kassem).
The committee will be tasked with taking steps to implement proposed cultural policies as soon as possible.
The proposals stressed the importance of expanding the funding allocated to culture in the state budget to 5.1 per cent. They also called for the revision of all legislation related to cultural issues, including laws on the use of public space, laws on the construction of cultural spaces, laws regulating non-profit businesses, and laws guaranteeing freedom of expression.
Proposals also included a vision for the restructuring of the culture ministry with a view to achieving greater autonomy for cultural work from government agencies, while keeping the culture budget under the supervision of financial regulatory authorities.