Right at the Center: Launching Cairo's New Cultural Hub

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Artwork from Huda Lufti's exhibition "When Dreams Call for Silence" in the new Tahrir Cultural Center
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Artwork from Sherin Guirguis's exhibition "Bint al-Nil/Daughter of the Nile" in the new Tahrir Cultural Center
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Artwork from Sherin Guirguis's exhibition "Bint al-Nil/Daughter of the Nile" in the new Tahrir Cultural Center
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Artists Sherin Guirguis (left) and Huda Lutfi (center left) stand with author Shiva Balaghi (center right) and President Francis Ricciardone (right)
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Artist Huda Lutfi getting interviewed at her exhibition
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An onlooker at the new Tahrir Cultural Center exhibition
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President Francis Ricciardone unveils the plaque dedicated to feminist and poet Doria Shafik
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Naguib Sawiris, Prominent businessman and investor at the podium
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Richard Bartlett, chairman of AUC's Board of Trustees, at the podium

Saturday, February 9, 2019, marks the date of AUC's centennial year, and now, also commemorates the inauguration of the University’s new Tahrir Cultural Center (TCC). With a ceremony hosted in the renovated Ewart Memorial Hall, opened with speeches from AUC President Francis Ricciardone; Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Amr Adly; and prominent businessman and investor, Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Orascom Investment Holding; there couldn’t be a more fitting venue or occasion for the center’s inauguration.

AUC's Tahrir Cultural Center will serve as the setting for a wide variety of cultural and artistic events, including live dance, theatrical and musical performances, book clubs, movie screenings, conferences and art displays, such as the current exhibits Bint al-Nil by Sherin Guirguis and When Dreams Call for Silence by former AUC professor Huda Lutfi. The center will be fully owned, operated and programmed by AUC, and the Tahrir Square campus will simultaneously continue to host University-related professional and academic arts programs, along with public lectures and seminars.

The first phase of the opening of the Tahrir Cultural Center features the renovation of six gallery spaces, newly redesigned outdoor garden “perfect for exhibitions and music festivals,” a remodeled cafeteria, the newly renovated Ewart Memorial Hall, Oriental Hall, special access lounge area, Falaki Theater and gallery, spaces for workshops and classrooms.

A New Renaissance

The construction and development of the Tahrir Cultural Center have been funded and supported by Sawiris, a longtime supporter of cultural and educational institutions in Egypt. President Ricciardone described Sawiris as “passionate about giving back to Egypt, [and] giving generously with purpose and impact.”

During the TCC’s inauguration, Sawiris noted that “art and cultural activities are key to positive transformations in the Egyptian community. ... I am pleased to support the establishment of the TCC that will serve as a dynamic platform for cultural exchanges for both Egyptians and expats. I believe that it will mark the beginning of another exceptional centennial for AUC.”

Sawiris envisions the TCC as a place where young people could get exposed to a range of art forms and receive encouragement toward their own creative expression. As he stated earlier this year, “I am a believer in the power of arts and culture to transform communities.”

In its initial phase, the new TCC comprises six main gallery spaces, Ewart Memorial Hall, Oriental Hall, a special access lounge area, a remodeled cafeteria and the Falaki Theater and gallery, along with further space for workshops and classes. The TCC also boasts a redesigned outdoor garden -- the perfect space to host sprawling exhibitions and lively music festivals.

President Ricciardone believes that the establishment of this center will mark a new chapter in AUC’s history.

“Today, Egypt is at a new a renaissance, and AUC is at the heart of this revival … ensuring the best minds of the region are equipped with the education they need for the lives of service our alumni have always led, and spearheading impactful research to address the most pressing challenges of our time.”

Celebration of the Past, Vision for the Future

The TCC is at once the culmination of 100 years of AUC, and simultaneously, a glimpse into its future. Throughout its history, the University has continually strived to connect with the world outside its arched walls, actively contributing to Cairo and the Egyptian community at large. Now, the Tahrir Cultural Center will serve as an evolving inspiration for future generations of AUCians.

"Throughout its long history, AUC has experienced many excellent phases," expressed Deputy Minister Adly. "Since its inception in 1919 and its developed performance over the years, it is considered a perfect example of an academic institution [that] is mainly concerned with society."

“We are dedicated to reviving Egypt’s place as a regional fountainhead of arts and culture through the establishment of AUC’s Tahrir Cultural Center,” noted President Francis Ricciardone, explaining how the center’s mission will be to stimulate intellectual exchange and serve as a cultural hub for the greater community. “Once complete, AUC’s Tahrir Cultural Center will be a centerpiece of downtown Cairo -- the beating heart of culture in the Arab world.”

Soon, there will be opportunities to support the TCC through a Friends of AUC’s Tahrir Cultural Center initiative. For now, take the opportunity to walk through the lush gardens and galleries so you can see the vision come alive for yourself. These current installations and the refurbished campus are just teasers of what the TCC will deliver to Cairo in the future.

For updates on the Tahrir Cultural Center's upcoming events, click here.