Known for his passion for culture, and for his investments, which recently included spreading arts in the Egyptian society and giving youth opportunities to display their creativity, the businessperson and chairperson of Orascom Investment Holding, Naguib Sawiris signed an agreement on Monday to establish the American University in Cairo (AUC)’s Tahrir Cultural Centre (TCC).
Aiming for it to be a platform for young talents to showcase all of their hidden gems that seek to find a hub to be introduced to the world, the TCC is to witness all sort of independent art varying between music, sculpture, painting, theatre plays, or even cinema.
“The TCC will be a comprehensive art centre combining all sort of arts, unlike any other cultural centre in the area,” Sawiris told Daily News Egypt.
The centre will to be at AUC’s Tahrir campus, where Sawiris was once a student and enjoyed “the weekly cultural evenings the most.”
“What drove me to invest in this centre is the love I have for it. It’s totally connected to my feelings towards this building [AUC’s Tahrir Campus]. I have a lot of memories in it; I used to come here when I was young to watch movies and attend Jazz concerts. So I believe this is the best use of it,” Sawiris explained.
He added that the TCC is planned to be totally different from the existing cultural centres in the city.
“I personally go to these places, and every one of them is for a certain type of art; unlike this [TCC], It tackles all sorts of arts aspects,” he added.
The centre is to be opened 19 February, celebrating the AUC’s 100th anniversary. It will be fully owned, operated and programmed by the university.
“I doubt there will be any similar cultural centre in Cairo like this!” he further commented.
Taking place at the AUC’s Tahrir Campus, the signing was attended by Francis Ricciardone, AUC president, and some of the university’s staff.
Establishing the TCC comes in the next year Sawiris launched El-Gouna Film Festival, which was met with a huge success.
When asked if he has a plan in investing in the cultural scene, Sawiris laughingly answered, “I’m a Gemini, so I have no plans. I only do what I feel like doing.”
According to him, launching the TCC is a way of retrieving Egypt’s currently lost art legacy, and giving a chance to millions of young talents to introducer the world their creativity.
“Egypt has a very long history in culture. You don’t see any of this culture when you walk in our traffic or our streets unfortunately. But, retrieving this culture, and showing that we are capable of doing something elegant and beautiful, this is what I aim,” Sawiris added.
In the press release, Sawiris explained that art is one of the most powerful weapons for communities’ appraisals.
“I believe in the power of arts and culture in transforming communities and creating a long-lasting positive impact on youth and children, and I believe that we are in utmost need for this positive impact in today’s Egypt,” he stated.
For his side, Ricciardone told DNE that the TCC is planned to be a gate to all Egyptians, “it is a private free institution for professionals, amateurs, and academic activities. Art, culture and entertainment are what bring all human beings together.”
He stated that his hopes is for the centre to strengthen the relationships between the AUC and Egyptian artists, “the place will be buzzing with activities and still be opened to the public,” he explained.
From his point of view, the TCC comes to fill in the gap between the Egypt’s established cultural centres, which only displays professional shows like the Cairo Opera House and the academic theatres.
He explained that between both platforms, there are thousands of talents that seek a hub to showcase their art work, something that the TCC is to fill.
Ricciardone further added that the centre is not to a monument to Sawiris, however, it is a building “to serve Egyptians in a unique way that Egyptian institutions cannot do.”
planning for it to be an independent cultural house is another point of which Ricciardone focused on. As an institution belonging to the AUC, the TCC follows its adopted believes which are all about “creating a meeting place for all points of view, and free debate of ideas.”
Aly Mourad, the TCC director also spoke about the freedom factor, which is all what the TCC about.
“Unlike most of the cultural centres, which eventually follow the owner’s beliefs whether religiously or politically, the TCC is planned to be an open platform for all different types of art, ideologies, and beliefs,” he told DNE.
Mourad further explained that various types of arts are aimed to be showcased at the centre, “I personally make sure that the centre is a hub for all cultural activities, without the elimination of any type based on anyone’s personal preferences.”