Coronavirus freezes artistic events in Egypt

Multiple festivals, artistic events and theater shows this week have been suspended following the cabinet’s decision to ban gatherings as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus.

One of these is the Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF), an annual film festival for African cinema, which was suspended on Tuesday.

LAFF president Sayyed Fouad told Al-Masry Al-Youm, “We are committed to this decision out of keenness for the safety of citizens. The judging committees for the (festival’s) four competitions continued to watch the rest of the films in their hotel rooms.”

The festival also canceled the closing ceremony scheduled for Wednesday, he added, and instead will hold a mini press conference to announce the winning films and prizes.

Several singers even announced the cancellation of their concerts, including Tamer Hosni and Lebanese singer Assi al-Hallani.

The Awladna International Art Forum for the Gifted, a forum for children with disabilities, announced the postponement of its fourth edition previously scheduled for Friday, and the cancellation of the festival’s press conference which was set for Tuesday at the Cairo Opera House.

The forum’s president Suhair Abdel Qadir accepted the cabinet’s decision in order to ensure the public’s safety.

The president of the Cairo Opera House Magdy Saber meanwhile announced that all concerts and events at the opera house have been canceled until further notice.

He said the opera house’s position in this matter is particularly sensitive as it cooperates with a large of number of foreigners, including musicians, bands, and ballet dancers from various countries.

Courses at the opera house have also been suspended, he added.

The Theater House’s head Ismail Mukhtar told Al-Masry Al-Youm that all theatrical performances have also been suspended.

However, not all institutions have stopped their activities.

The chairman of the Sharm El-Sheikh International Theater Festival for Youth, Mazen al-Gharabawy,  said that the postponement of the fifth session set for April 1 is still to be determined.

Preparations for the festival are underway according to schedule unless a postponement decision is issued, he said.

And a member of the Chamber of Film Industry, producer Hisham Abdel Khalek, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that “There is no decision yet regarding cinemas specifically, though I think that if schools are suspended then of course cinemas will be closed. But we have not yet been notified of any decision in this regard.”

He added that as public awareness of the disease rose, revenues this week were very low.

Most people are already abstaining from theaters, he said, while others believe there is no reason to panic.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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