Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) is Egypt’s only international multi-disciplinary contemporary arts festival that takes place over three weeks in March-April each year, at multiple sites in Downtown Cairo. D-CAF includes local, regional and international music, theatre, dance, visual arts and film by cutting-edge artists from Egypt, the Arab world, and beyond. In addition to featuring established Downtown cultural spaces and theatres, D-CAF breaks new ground by using non-traditional sites such as historical buildings, storefronts, alleyways, and rooftops for performances, events, and arts installations, with the aim of bringing both audiences and performers to engage with the city in a new way. With its diverse and first-rate programming, D-CAF aspires to become one of the most important annual Arab art events by reaching out to a broad spectrum of Egyptian audiences, creating bridges between Arab artists, international curators and programmers, as well as capitalising on Downtown Cairo’s unique cultural, social and architectural heritage.
What good is art at a time of conflict and adversity? What good is art in societies where people are struggling against poverty, illiteracy and disease, or even war and civil unrest? Why not spend the money we allocate to a contemporary dance piece or to a music concert on vaccinating children, or to teaching adults how to read and write? Is art a luxury for a select few? For those not concerned with the day-to-day struggle of making ends meet? To these questions, many may answer yes, but they could not be any further from the truth. If this is difficult to believe, ask the young men and women who practice theatre and can only just pay for the bus fair to get to rehearsals. Or ask the unemployed youth who can barely subsist, but still manages to take his girlfriend to the movies. Ask the people living in remote villages how the rare experience of attending an artistic event has impacted their lives and perceptions.