El Mahrosa Culture Activities; El Balad Culture Center
Since the foundation of El Balad Culture Center in 2007 – founded and managed by a group of young people whilst still undergoing their undergraduate degree – it succeeded in introducing a platform and semipublic culture space (which played an obvious and noticeable role) for organizing and hosting a large number of cultural activities related to awareness of human rights and civic awareness. El Balad Culture Center introduced its space and opened its doors to a large number of youth groups, young cultural groups and political parties, participants in the cultural and literary new youth organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations working on political, cultural and human rights awareness.
In this context, El Balad Culture Center is successful in playing the role of a library besides being a typical platform for cultural events. As a platform El Balad Culture Center adopted many of the innovative experiences and new approaches by working side by side with many of the new and youth literary groups.
The peak of the El Balad's success was achieved when it underwent a cooperation between a number of youth literary groups, and El Mahrosa Publishing Center in the production and publication of more than 60 literary productions written by young authors. Moreover, El Balad Culture Center was able to promote and organize more than 20 artistic exhibitions between fine art, photography and handcraft products and organized dozens of literary events and semiars. After 3 year, El Balad Culture Center crew– just a few months before the 25th of January Revolution – was able to release a pilot issue of El Balad magazine which was supposed to be a tool created by and speaking on behalf of the many youth literary and artistic groups who were to become the heart of this generation who created the Egyptian revolution on the January 25th.
After the revolution of January 25, it was obviously indicated that the role and contribution which El Balad Culture Center should play is to be an extended platform for hosting cultural, political, social and generally civic activities. Hence the space which El Balad controls needs to be developed and advanced so that it hosts a larger number of diverse activities. This intention of expansion is mainly for two main reasons. First there is a need of a larger space and platform for the growing number of youth interested and willing to engage positively participate in the public sphere. Second, at the moment, there is an increasing number of initiatives and experiments that differ from the cultural events which El Balad Culture Center used to organize in the past.
This new kind of events and initiatives which needs access to a public space (such a El Balad) to communicate with a larger audience requires that El Balad be expanded. There are specific examples of the new events and initiatives which El Balad prepares to host, such as:
- Organizing and hosting - in conjunction with a number of civil society organizations - training sessions on develop the skills of advocates in raising awareness and capacity building of advocates and members of different cultural, political, developmental and human rights fields.
- Organizing and hosting a number of events in coordination with international institutions and foreign foundations in order to build cultural dialogues and bridges specifically through signing foreign language books translated to Arabic language, or by hosting international or foreign artists, writers or intellectuals, whether for lectures, seminars and political conferences or even artistic exhibitions.
- Organizing a number of cultural interim mobile exhibitions to display books and products of art by young artists and young publishers. Through this initiative El Balad Culture Center shall promote and encourage the work of young innovators by exhibiting their work at various locations across Egypt. The choice of locations across Egypt for these exhibitions will be based on the nature of the displayed art and production in relation to the level of socio-economic and cultural character of the different governorates in Egypt.
- Organizing and hosting a number of events in coordination with a number of associations, artists and writers from different domestic Egyptian cultural experiences namely from the Nuba, the Bedouin culture, and from the Sewan culture. The products of these cultures might be in the form of exhibitions for their literary productions, handcrafts and other products specific for the relevant culture.
- Hosting and supporting the new youth groups and coalitions, which are established after the revolution of January 25 and which do not necessarily undergo artistic or literary activities, through offering them space for their activities, and offer advice or even professional support specific for enhancing their organizational capacity.
- Hosting and supporting the work of the new literary, artistic and cultural youth groups, besides organizing in cooperation with these groups a number of joint cultural salons, conferences and cultural seminars.
- Convening and organizing a number of books signing events for a large number of writers in different areas on a regular basis every at around 15 times a month.
- Convening and organizing a number of art, photography, and handcrafts exhibitions on a regular basis annually, around 12 exhibitions per year.
- Convening and organizing seminars, lectures, and other public events on various topics which are different from the above mentioned examples.
- Convening and organizing a Cinema Club supporting the new cinema and independent films production from different countries and specifically that of Egypt, and on the sidelines organizing and inviting a number of critics and directors to discuss cinema and film making (about 4 of such event per month).
- Convening and organizing a number of art-related educational workshops aiming at developing the skills of youth interested in the fields of photography, art, scenario writing, and hand crafts.