The Cairo 360 Editors’ Choice Awards 2016: Arts & Culture Award Winners
With the fate of Townhouse Gallery this year, many fear of what could become of art and its espression. But despite, this Egypt has a long and storied history with the arts and, in the last few years, the local arts and culture scene has become bigger, more eclectic and, most significantly, more encompassing of wider participation, as well as more accessible to the masses.
One can speculate as to what has caused this; many will point to the January 25th Revolution empowering more and more artists to emerge under a newfound sense of expression. That, in many cases, is true, but the 2016 Cairo 360 Editors’ Choice Award winners in this category also be credited with providing a platform for emerging artists and, generally, aiding the development of what is a burgeoning and evolving scene at an exciting time for arts in Egypt.
Though initially functioning as a cafe-come-art-space, 3elbt Alwan’s consistent stream of top live music events has earned the Zamalek venue’s first ECA, particularly in its efforts to host more obscure and underground artists as part of what is usually an eclectic schedule.
Though it’s one of the lesser recognised galleries in Cairo, Al Kahila Art Gallery continues to break Zamalek and Downtown Cairo’s hold on being the centres of the art communities. With a wide range of exhibitions adorning their walls at any one time, the gallery has brought a touch of culture to Mohandiseen.
There’s something of the old-school about Al Masar; the Zamalek gallery takes p a unique space in the stunning Baehler Mansion and often hosts the works of some of the pioneers of contemporary Egyptian art – something that has educated newer generations on the country’s history in art.
Under the leadership of art consultant and collector, Faten Mostafa, Art Talks embodies the concept of the contemporary gallery, while also offering regular educational seminars that cover both art history and art theory. It has also come to pride itself on putting the spotlight on some of the best young artists in the country.
Occupying a gigantic space in the most unlikely of places, Arts-Mart started life as an online platform for artists to showcase and sell their work. Now a physical space on the Cairo-Ale Desert road, there are few as unique spaces in Cairo, which it uses to hold some remarkable group exhibitions.
Founded in 20014 as an independent art initative, Downtown’s CIC has become an important and influential institution in the world of photography, in holding exhibitions, screenings and a host of educational programs, courses and lessons.
A giant on the local arts and culture scene, Darb 1718 is possibly the most diverse and versatile venue of its kind. From live music and galleries, to workshops and festivals, this most important of cultural centres backs up its stunning location with a real drive to contribute to local communities, while exposing its visitors to some truly unique events and programs.
Located inside the Al Azhar Park, El Genaina is one of the few functioning traditional theatres in Cairo today. However, it’s the theatre’s summer programs that put them head and shoulders abve the rest, with a program that knows no limits in terms of genre.
Though public opinion on El Sawy Culturewheel is split, there’s no doubting its importance on the local arts and culture scene – the fact that no other venue hosts as many events is testemant to its influence and popularity. With several halls and spaces, live music and theatre are the most frequent occurrence, but El Sawy also offers plenty of cultural events.
As one of the premiere cultural venues in Downtown Cairo, Falaki Theatre plays host to varied and distinct events – be it student organised plays, or Downtown Contemprary Arts Festival events. Theatre largely goes unnoticed by the mainstream, but Falaki does a great job of bringing it to the forefront.
One of the more demure art venues in Zamalek, Gallery Misr has only been around for five years, but is amongst the best in what is a competitive area, thanks to its willingness to embrace more out-of-left-field art, while championing local talent.
Established in 2014, Garden City’s Gyspum Gallery takes a more international approach and has consistently brought the works of foreign artists to Cairo. It’s reach is owed in part to eight artists living between Alexandria, Cairo, Amman, Basel, Beirut and Tehran, as well as seasoned independent curator, Aleya Hamza.
As one of the newer cultural cubs in Zamalek, Magnolia Leaves of Art is almost one of the most unique, where most cultural pursuits can be enjoyed. Boasting a library, several film screening programs and the occasional live performance, Magnolia is set to become a valuable member of the scene.
Heliopolis isn’t as rich in arts and culture as more central area of Cairo, but Photopia stands as one of the best specialised cultural centres in the city. Catering the field of photography, Photopia hosts workshops, talks by leading industry figures, exhibitions and even the odd photography competition – all of which continue to capture the imagination of local photographers.
Picasso Gallery’s regularly rotating exhibitions in its well-conceived space has proven to be a gallery for the more experimental and abstract art you can see in Cairo – an critical role that is made all the more notable considering traditional local resistance to the untried
In the last year, after finding its footing, ROOM Art Space has become a go-to for live music fans. The Garden City venue’s eclectic entertainment schedules, which at one point even included a weekly drum circle, invites a huge range of different performers – something that has gained it plenty of fans.
It’s small and it’s intimate, but what Safar Khan lacks in space, it more than makes up for with its eclectic exhibitions and its commitment to showcasing, highlighting and celebrating local art, be it of more seasoned or emerging artists.
Now boasting two halls in which they often host two different, concurrent exhibitions, Zamalek Art Gallery is one of the most popular and most frequented galleries in Cairo and there are few glleries that host as many exhibitions in any given year.
While a cinema doesn’t have an obvious place on the local arts and culture scene, Zawya is no ordinary cinema. The modest Downtown venue brings film lovers in Egypt some of the best, and often most obscure, films from across the world and occupies a unique position on the scene.
For more on the 2016 Cairo 360 Editors’ Choice Awards, click here, where you can also see all of this year’s winners.