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Threat of Demolition Sparks Petition to Save Contemporary Art and Culture Center Darb1718

July 29, 2023
Photo Credit: Official Darb1718 Website

Contemporary art and culture center, Darb1718, revealed in an Instagram post on 27 July that district authorities were trying to have its building evacuated, so it could be demolished to expand the road leading to the Museum of Civilizations.

The area under threat of being demolished includes not only Darb1718, but also two of the surrounding buildings, which have served as some of the oldest locations for pottery artisans in Old Cairo.

According to Darb1718 Director Nadine Wahab, an official notice from the governor’s office for the demolition has not been issued. However, those in the center have been told to evacuate regardless.

“People are reaching out to different officials,” Wahab confirms. “It’s not that [the Egyptian government] is not responsive, but we need a guarantee that Darb will not be demolished. Our fear is […] it’ll be demolished and then afterwards we’ll figure out what will happen.”

Despite the potential demolition of the art center, no alternative place to relocate the structure has been provided.

Darb1718 has created a petition to spread awareness about its potential destruction. Over the two days since it has been shared, the petition has received over 7,600 signatures.

“The petition isn’t going to save Darb on its own,” Wahab acknowledges, “but it’s an important component for us to show the government the public support that we have.”

Wahab also stresses the importance of sharing the story and posting about Darb1718 — especially artists who can share their stories and experiences at the center.

In light of the news, Member of Parliament Freddy Elbaiady shared a Facebook post in support of the center, asking: “Has the construction of a road become more important than the encouragement of the arts and creativity? What happened to the role of the ministry as a protector of the arts and its creators?”

Member of Parliament Maha Abdel Nasser also posted in support of Darb1718, stating that she contacted “senior officials in the state to stop the removal decision issued for Darb 17/18.”

Darb1718 is a contemporary art and culture center established in 2008 by visual artist Moataz Nasr for the purpose of promoting social change through art and its creators, advancing the contemporary art movement in Egypt, and cultivating the local art scene.

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