The Culture Resource — Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy — is set to launch its Beirut office today, according to Ahram Online. That’s after it shuttered Egyptian activities last fall, in the wake of a restrictive NGO law:
Ten-year-old Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy announced a freeze on activities and a closing of its Cairo office last November, just a few weeks after the pioneering El Fann Midan’s activities were also suspended in Egypt.
Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy’s activities in Egypt and beyond were various. According to a report on its closing in Mada Masr:
These programs ranged from grants for independent artists, the Darb al-Ahmar School for Music and Circus Arts, an ambitious project for developing cultural management in the Arab region, various regional art and cultural festivals and workshops and volunteer-based cultural caravans sent to underprivileged areas in Egypt and to refugee camps outside it.
Two novelists recently won literary grants from the organization: Rania Mamoun and Soukaina Habiballah.
But after 10 years, the organization decided last November that they could no longer operate in Egypt. Again, Mada on the reasons why:
Under the newly issued, loosely tailored laws against civil society, the staff of Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy and the beneficiaries of its activities could be prosecuted on charges of receiving foreign funds — an indictment that could possibly lead to death sentences. The organization’s planned relocation to either Beirut or Tunis thus sounds largely understandable.
The launch ceremony, which will reportedly be preceded by a biannual meeting of the board, will host performances by Lebanese musicians Mike Massy and Charbel Haber, as well as a screening of Ahmed Khaled’s White Sugar.
Elected in January 2015, the organisation’s artistic board, according to Ahram Online, “includes Mauritanian film artist and cultural activist Abdulrahman Salem (Board Director), Egyptian businessman and political activist Khaled Kandil (Deputy Director), Libyan poet, academic and cultural activist Khaled Mattawa (Secretary), Moroccan poet and cultural activist Murad Al-Qadery (Treasurer), Egyptian cultural manager and activist Basma El-Husseiny, Lebanese theatre director and cultural activist Hanan Al-Hajj Ali, and Palestinian visual artist and cultural activist Khaled Hourani. The board will serve until end of 2017.”