On one end of the concrete wall blocking Qasr al-Aini Street stands a small grocery store with a red façade. Like with other shops across downtown Cairo sales have gone down due to the stifling traffic brought about by the concrete barriers and occasional skirmishes over the past two years. But unlike the rest, more pedestrians flock into the shop. Lucky for downtown dwellers, the store has two doors: one on each side of the wall, and the middle-aged grocer sits on any given day occasionally greeting those who walk through as he carries out his work.
(...) With funding and affordable rehearsal spaces for performing arts continuing to dwindle, and opportunities between the state’s rigid yet unclear cultural policies and commercial theater leaving little room for experimentation, three multidisciplinary arts festivals are proposing alternative models to bring performing arts to the forefront.
By the beginning of April, the Second Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF), Hal Badeel and Al-Fan Midan are set to raise the curtain on their exciting programs, which cater to both the local community and hopefully those who have been avoiding the neighborhood altogether.
D-CAF, although conceived prior to the 18 days, kicked off its zero edition last April with two weeks of cutting-edge plays, dance performances, music concerts, an exhibition on censorship of artworks and a film program.(....)
Last year, several performances and screenings were held at key downtown sites from the Radio Theater to the bustling Boursa pedestrian area. This April, the festival’s artistic director, Ahmed El Attar, has expanded the program over an entire month, with more interactive acts — from a feature where passers-by can write anything they want on a gadget and have it projected live onto a shop front on Adly Street, to a live performance in a shop window overlooking Mahmoud Basiony Street with which pedestrians become involuntarily entangled.