DNE: Art Lab Festival raises money for independent cinema hub in Alexandria

This article was written by Omar El Adl, for the Daily News Egypt, about our Art Lab Festival fundraising event. Find the link on their website here.

We also had other coverage on wasla.fm, an independent music online radio station, who wrote about our open music jam, and posted fantastic pictures from the music circle.

Children enjoy their art workshops in Art Cafe

Maadi’s dilapidated villas have been put to some outlandish uses over the years, chiefly as pubs and restaurants. Perhaps one of the better projects is Art Cafe, right next door to the Maadi police station. Art Cafe is a friendly, open air cafe that has a spacious indoor area dedicated to art activities.

Art Cafe hosted Art Lab Festival as a fundraiser for Spaces of Expression, a project by CISV Egypt’s International People’s Program and Gudran Association For Arts And Development. The day-long festival included daytime art workshops for kids, with food provided from the delicious, but overpriced, Cairo Kitchen.

The money goes to a good cause though; establishing a permanent space for independent and audio and visual arts in Alexandria. Tickets had a suggested fee of EGP 40 for adults and EGP 30 for children under 12, though some opted to pay more.

The art workshops started at 1pm and the short film screenings at 2pm. From 6pm to 9pm the audience was treated to Like Jelly’s humorous and spontaneous songs.

The art activities ranged from painting mugs to free painting in what Art Cafe called the creativity room. Art Cafe hosted the festival free of charge, aiming to add as much money as possible to the EGP 21,000 the project managed to raise prior to the festival.

As expected, the crowds started filling up the venue just around the time Like Jelly were set to play. The event had no information available in Arabic, but staff members were available to talk at length on the project and CISV.

“CISV Egypt is a registered NGO under CISV international which operates in 65 countries and 200 cities, focusing on intercultural learning and educational activities with a focus on informal learning or learning through participation and living in multicultural settings,” said Rowan El Shimi, staff member of Spaces of Expression.

CISV Egypt’s International People’s Program is inviting 25 volunteers, both local and international, from 12 countries, to live in Alexandria for three weeks starting on 27 December. The volunteers will work on renovating a spacious 12-bedroom apartment in Alexandria that used to belong to Bahna Films – one of the bigger production companies in Egypt that operated from 1932 to 1962.

“The owner of the apartment, Bassil Bahna, is donating the apartment to Gudran to transform it into a hub for independent cinema. It is a huge apartment but we hope to be done with two rooms by the time the volunteers leave, 16 January, so Gudran can use it for activities,” said El Shimi.

The apartment will also feature a cafeteria and a museum for Bahna films, with some memorabilia including original actors’ contracts, complete with signatures.

“In addition to the museum and the screenings, the 12 rooms will host other artistic activities, similar to Mosireen but not necessarily political,” said El Shimi.

The Art Lab Festival raised EGP 9,000 and CISV Egypt hopes to raise more. El Shimi says these things have a “way of working out.”
“We still need EGP 16,000 but we are hopeful and we are planning other activities. We are hosting a movie night on 1 December at the CISV office where we will screen Wasteland and have a discussion afterwards.”


Art Lab Festival: Join our fundraising event, this Friday

Post this photo on Facebook if you like our project!

We’re holding a fundraising event this Friday, 16 November from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM in Art Cafe, in Maadi.

The day will be split into two parts:

– Until 6:00 PM is for the whole family (young kids are more than welcome!) where there will be art workshops of pottery, painting and decoupage, along with screenings of short movies every half hour.

– From 6:00 PM Like Jelly and other Cairene underground musicians will lead a group jam session, so bring your instruments, and get ready to drum, sing, and even dance!

The event will be catered by Cairo Kitchen (check out their awesome blog on food and culture), there will also be cakes and refreshments throughout the day, so make sure you come try their yummy Koshari and Egyptian dishes and desserts.

We would like to thank Art Cafe, from all our hearts, since they are donating the space and art workshops to us, so all the donations would come directly to the Project!

Join and share the Facebook Event here, and check out our electronic flyer here.

You can read our blog post on where the money you donate will go here and discover our blog for more information on the project, who we are and our partner organisation too 🙂