Genaina Theater returns, operating as private company

The Genaina Theater will return for its eleventh season on May 9, after being closed since Al Mawred Al Thaqafy halted its activities in Egypt in November last year.

The theater was established by Al-Mawred, a non-profit, not-governmental culture resource, in 2005, but will now be run by a private company.

Al-Mawred had stopped running the theater, which was located in Al-Azhar Park and was one of the few independent venues for music in Cairo able to host a large audience, following news of the drafting of a new law for non-governmental organisations. Many NGOs considered the law to be aimed at stifling their activities.

Al-Mawred did not provide clear reasons behind its decision to halt its operations in Egypt, but it was assumed to be a result of the NGO law. It continues to operate in other Arab countries.

Critics of the controversial NGO law, which originated in the Mubarak era, say it was intended to control the mobility and freedom of civil society organisations. The Ministry of Social Solidarity gave an ultimatum for civil society organisations to register under this law, which expired on November 10, 2014. The new law, currently in its draft form, has also seen wide criticisms from NGOs and civil society actors.

Genaina is now registered under a private, for-profit company carrying the same name, according to a press release on April 29, and will present different services and products in various artistic disciplines such as concerts, training opportunities and festivals. It will strive to develop its marketing and promotion strategies in an attempt to be self-sufficient on its own resources, the statement added.

Since its establishment in 2005, the Genaina Theater has hosted a variety of alternative artists from Egypt and the region on its stage. The theater also hosted various festivals such as the multi-disciplinary Spring Festival, the Hayy Festival bringing female musicians to the stage in Ramadan, and CirCairo, for local and international circus troupes.

Besides establishing the Genaina Theater, Al-Mawred supported independent artists and artistic initiatives. Its operations included offering production grants, producing printed and online content on cultural management, and programs supporting the establishment and sustainability of new art spaces and initiatives.

Genaina’s program kicks off on May 9 with a performance by Oum, a Moroccan jazz musician. The program also includes a May 15 performance by German rock/jazz musician Roman Bunka, who plays oud and has collaborated with Egyptian musicians Fathy Salama, Mohamed Mounir and Abdo Daghir, and a performance by Tunisian composer, guitarist, oud player and singer Nabil Khemir on May 21.


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