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Beats galore
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 16 - 04 - 2014

THE SECOND International Festival For Drums and Traditional Arts (20-25 April), writes Nevine El-Aref, will feature 31 drumming bands from 21 countries with China and Saudi Arabia as the guests of honour touring the streets out of cultural institutions in Cairo, Alexandria, Banha, Al-Mansourah and Bani Sweif. Honoured this year are the persons and names of the folk art scholars and artists Ahmad Roushdi Saleh, Soliman Gamil, Ahmed Morsi, Farida Fahmy, Alexander Tibrio (Romanian) and Ramagein (Russian).
According to Khaled Galal, the head of the Cultural Development Fund, this year includes a wider international variety of shows with less focus on the Egyptian arts. “I am very happy that the festival took place as scheduled despite the ministry's financial problems” he said, adding that the cultural project to spread art all across the country, Beautiful Egypt, launched last week, is already proving successful. “Heritage and folk art are the memory of nations. Thanks to Intesar Abdel Fatah, the founding president of the festival, we have the chance to experience them in a timeless contemporary framework through traditional drums.”
For his part Abdel Fatah was satisfied. “The number of troupes participating is higher than I expected,” he said. They hail from Zimbabwe, Uganda, Guinea, Liberia, South and North of Sudan, India, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Tanzania, Thailand, Indonesia, Seri Lanka, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and Switzerland participated in this round. “The festival regretfully had to reject the participation of another dozen troupes due to the lack of funding and performance space.”
Th event will open at the Guiza Plateau with all the troupes in their official costumes at the foot of the Sphinx. “I dreamed of the Sphinx two days ago telling me to launch the festival from his home,” Abdel Fatah said. At night, the official inauguration will take place at Bir Youssef in the Salaheddin Citadel. An exhibition of instruments, costumes and handicrafts from the participating countries is to be held alongside the programme, as well as four workshops, one for children.
Abdel Fatah says the festival will celebrate the Egyptian easter holiday Sham Al Nessim on 21 April at the Andalus Garden, where all the troupes will perform. The closing ceremony will coincide with the Sinai National Day, with a carnival procession stretching from the Salaheddin Citadel to Al-Ghouri Dome on Al-Azhar Street. Venues include the Mansourah and Benisueif Cultural Palaces, the Sayed Darwish theatre in Alexandria, the Al-Ghouri Dome, the Cairo Opera House Open-air and Al-Hanager theatres, the Children's Civilisation and Creativity Centre in Heliopolis and Bir Youssef.
Abdel Fatah also expressed his wish to organise Grand Street Market, a three-month event on Al-Muizz Street, where Egyptian folk music troupes would stage performances and workshops.

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