To those who visit Egypt these days, it is clear that the day Mubarak stepped down, on 11 February 2011, was not the end of the revolution, but its beginning. Protests continue, albeit in smaller numbers; cafes and walls are full of political flyers; taxicabs are now a place for political discussion and commentary on the latest news of demonstrations, sit-ins, and court trials of the symbols of the previous regime.
Cairo's famous street energy is magnified by the increase in the level of freedoms. This surplus of energy did not spare the cultural scene in Egypt. On the contrary, it seems that the spontaneous revolutionary situation sweeping the country has impacted this sector the most, notwithstanding fear of an unclear future, constant wariness, and dissatisfaction with the slow progress of change and reform.
These were the general impressions we remember of our visit to Egypt between the 15th an the 22nd of May 2011. We aimed to observe closely the cultural and artistic scene after the revolution, and to explore the most urgent needs and available opportunities for cooperation in the cultural development domain, in a country considered to be the Mecca of Arab intellectuals and artists and the measure for the general Arab cultural situation.
Returning to Beirut, we had a brief opportunity to think back on the results of our trip to Egypt. It was clear that there is an urgent need to increase the resources of the fund and for the creation of other independent Arab funds to support culture and arts. This is due to the chronic thirst for support in all aspects of Arab cultural life. We established that Egypt is unique in its dire need for financial and technical support aiming to compensate for the big lack of spaces for performance, training, and rehearsal. This is a major obstacle facing Egyptian artists, especially those who are active in performance arts. Another problem that stands out is the lack of professional technical cadres in light and sound engineering, one of the major challenges faced by the independent cinema and alternative music sectors.
By comparing the artistic initiatives that AFAC encountered in its tour of various Arab countries, it is clear that we made the right decision to support horizontal cooperation among artists and cultural practitioners in the Arab World. Finally, there is a need for cooperation among Arab donor agencies to provide the highest level of effectiveness in a sector that faces scarce resources and many problems.