Downtown Cairo Arts Festival puts sustainability at the forefront

The 10th D-Caf, one of the city's most popular annual events, will run across venues throughout October

The three-week event brings a series of art workshops, performances and programmes to the Egyptian capital. Photo: D-CAF
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The Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival, more commonly known as D-Caf, has just announced its 10th event will begin on October 9.

Featuring the works of more than 20 artists from 10 countries, the coming festival will have a particular focus on sustainability.

A decade after it first began, D-Caf has become one of the most popular events on the annual calendar in the Egyptian capital. Co-founder and artistic director Ahmed El Attar says 10 years was an important milestone for any festival.

“It's also just the beginning. I’d like to think of this 10th edition as the first of many big steps, and hope to one day celebrate 20 or 30 years of D-Caf,” El Attar says.

D-Caf returned to Cairo last year after an almost two-year absence owing to the pandemic. The National

Several artists who participated in previous iterations of D-Caf are also expected to return, El Attar said, adding: “There’s a lot of loyalty to the festival, not just from the audiences but also the artists, with whom we remain continually in touch".

Each year, the festival is broken down into smaller programmes, which often include artworks that share a common theme or medium.

D-Caf’s flagship Performing Arts programme is also set to return and will include a range of theatre, dance and interdisciplinary performances.

One of the programme’s aims is to showcase a variety of cultures and this year will feature the festival's first performance by artists from Burkina Faso.

The New Media and Visual Arts programme will also return, focusing on technological media, such as virtual reality, interactive installations and paintings created by artificial intelligence. This programme often features multimedia projects that utilise the architecture of Cairo’s famous Downtown district in their performances.

A portion of the French audiovisual exhibit, called Virtual Reality Experience, at Downtown Cairo's Consoleya art space. Photo: Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival

Additionally, a number of artists will be displaying works that address climate change, which is particularly on Egyptians’ minds as the country gears up to host Cop27, an annual event where world leaders discuss environmental issues.

The festival aims to start a dialogue about what artists can do to raise awareness of their carbon footprints and also develop more sustainable creative practices.

Furthermore, the festival’s venues will be equipped with recycling bins this year, the organisers said.

After being halted in 2020 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, D-Caf’s Arab Arts Focus programme will make a comeback this year. The scheme aims to help elevate Arab artists to a global platform.

El Attar said the programme “allows an exceptional amount of interaction and exchange between Arab and western industry professionals. In this sense, it truly is a unique event”.

Like every year, some of the events on D-Caf’s roster will be free of charge and others will be ticketed.

Ticket prices vary between events. This year's festival will run from October 9 to 30.

Scroll through images of last year's Downtown Cairo Arts Festival below

Updated: September 15, 2022, 12:43 PM
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