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NEWS/The Very Successful D-CAF Third Edition In Egypt

Many art festivals are being held in Egypt, especially in Alexandria and Cairo. This month, we had the chance to take part of the third edition of the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) that came to a close in Shehrazade nightclub with "La Voix est Libre, an art-wide performance that reflected the event's spirit. D-CAF had slowly become one of Cairo’s most anticipated and popular art festivals with its challenges, shortcomings and prospects. The shows took place in the Falaki Theater, the French Institute in Alexandria and the Shehrazade nightclub.


In an interview with the artistic director of D-CAF, Ahmad El Attar, stated that the 2014 edition was attended by a doubled number of people comparing to previous year. He also said that he hopes they get an increase in government support and local private sponsorship. The only way this festival can really continue many years down the road, look at it and say “Wow, Egypt has an international festival of high caliber”. He added also that each year, D-CAF promises discoveries of new locations for independent arts in the downtown 
area, which has the highest concentration of both used and unused spaces. He is saying that D-CAF is improving and will continue to improve in a mean that every year they make new mistakes and remedy others, and as of next year, he thinks that they can expect something tighter and less tiresome for them as a team. Well, with such a spirit, we think that this festival will come each year with more success and attendance.

 

This year also, Attar came together with other festival organizers, such as the Spring Festival, the Cairo Jazz Festival and Hal Badeel, and set dates to ensure their different events do not overlap in order to allow audiences the chance to imbibe the full range of their many activities. According to Attar, while the D-CAF team appreciates all the support they receive at the moment, depending on these types of grants would be challenging for the growth and sustainability of such a large-scale, multidisciplinary festival with so many different styles. “We want to have a more diverse set of things,” Attar explained. “We want to open up. In order to do that we need money that is not linked to a specific geographical zone.”

 

Major achievements were up this year at this festival, one of them was the sold-out concert of the Lebanese performer Yasmine Hamdan at Qasr El Nil Theater. It was a night to remember! But unfortunately, the highly anticipated music performance by Syrian visual artist and musician Zimo, the talent behind ‘Hello Psychaleppo’, was cancelled due to visa troubles.


One of the most exciting endeavors in this year’s edition was the renovation of the Kodak Stores in the passageway on Adly Street. The renovation was conducted by the Cairo’s Laboratory for Urban Studies, Training and Environmental Research and served the D-CAF's visual arts program with a retrospective exhibition of Egyptian artist Hassan Khan 
who showcased a massive body of his work in this semi-public space.


According to Attar, hosting events in public spaces was more challenging this year due to the security situation in Egypt, they had to obtain a permit and hire police forces to protect the events, a procedure which made it a more difficult to execute the whole project. A few shortcomings and numerous external challenges nevertheless, D-CAF in its third edition created a very nice social and artistic interaction around the city center as well as hosted meaningful conversations and performances, bringing together many of Cairo and Alexandria’s independent artistic initiatives together.


by Jamil Richane


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