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Meetphool: New Online Platform for Performing Arts Community in Egypt

Meetphool: New Online Platform for Performing Arts Community in Egypt
written by
Cairo 360

The past few months have proven
just how important the online community is in keeping people connected not only
around the world; but in their own local community. The Egyptian art scene now
has its own online platform to promote performing arts and to connect members
of the performing arts scene to each other as well as to their audiences.

Meetphool.net
is the brainchild of Theatre graduate and entrepreneur Nada Sabet, who came up
with the idea of the platform when she was working on her own website and
realised that everyone she spoke to in the Egyptian performing arts community
had the same problems with designing and maintaining their own sites.

‘I realised there’s a need in the
community to have a free online space, where artists can upload their
portfolios and have an online presence,’ she told Cairo 360.

Despite being quite a small
community, many members of the performing arts scene in Egypt don’t know each
other, according to Sabet. With several performing arts initiatives starting up
all over Egypt, it seemed imperative to launch a platform where performing
artists could connect to these initiatives and to each other.

‘The need for this platform has
always been there,’ she explained, ‘People need to put up their work online and
connect with broader audiences and other professionals within the performing
arts scene.’

Although Sabet began working on
the project long before the Egyptian revolution, she believes that people are
now less wary of the online world and more interested in the initiative after
January 25th.

There’s also a certain
presumption among Cairenes that the art scene is completely centralised in
Cairo, which is untrue. Meetphool seeks to connect art communities and events
in other Egyptian governorates with the Cairo hub to give them proper exposure
and support.

Meetphool is not limited to the
Egyptian performing arts community; it also aims to include the entire
Mediterranean region, as ‘there is a need for proper representation and for
people to find each other and work together,’ Sabet explained.

Sabet collaborated with local
firm EDG (Environmental Development Group) on the project, and secured a grant
from the EU Delegation to Egypt’s Cultural Office. Speaking at the platform’s
launch at Darb 17 18 on July 6th, Antonio Crea, the minister councillor of the
EU delegation’s social cooperation sector, reiterated the EU’s enthusiasm for
Meetphool.

‘This project was relevant before
the revolution, and now it’s even more relevant after the revolution,’ he said.

The launch event included
improvised performances by contemporary dancer Shaymaa Shoukry, graphic artist
Ganzeer, puppeteer Ahmed Abdel Naim and clown performer Ali Sobhy.

‘We weren’t interested in the
nature of the performances at the event, but we wanted to showcase what exists
in terms of talent here,’ she added.

The name Meetphool can be
interpreted in several ways, but according to Sabet, ‘meet’ is a Pharaonic word
for a small community (think meet ‘okba, etc) and ‘phool’ signifies the
theatrical fools in the performing world, such as the clowns, the Shakespearian
fools, and so on. It was important for Sabet to insert the ‘ph’ into the name
to represent performance hub.

The aim of Meetphool is to connect
members of the performing arts sector across continents and provide a safe
environment to share their work and collaborate on future activities. Blogs,
discussion boards, videos and e-books can be uploaded, which can then be rated
and commented on by readers.

Aside from publicising their work
and upcoming events, members will eventually be able to sell tickets,
merchandise and other resources such as music, e-books and toolkits via
meetphool.net.

Furthermore, RSS feeds from
various arts newsletters, sites, blogs and newspapers will keep the perfoming
arts community up-to-date with a constant stream of information about the
scene’s developments.

‘I hope that the platform can one
day stand on its own two feet and become self-sustainable as an independent
entity,’ said Sabet.

If everything goes according to
plan, Meetphool could very well become the connection that brings the region’s
performing arts talents together for a richer, connected community.

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