Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt, with over five million inhabitants. As a political centre in ancient times, the former location of the renowned ancient Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and a cultural melting pot in the 19th and 20th centuries, Alexandria has repeatedly attained great importance over the centuries - above all in the fields of culture, science and trade. Many Alexandrians are still proud of this tolerant, open and above all culturally significant past. However, the reality in 2019 is rather different, with increasingly restrictive legislation, a tense socio-economic situation and the fragile socio-political structure of Egypt representing a heavy burden on the cultural scene and civil society. Free spaces for open exchange are only possible in private and protected spaces, and these can almost exclusively only be offered by internationally active institutions.
On the one hand, the opening of the cultural garage is a reaction to the lack of (open) spaces for artistic development. At the same time, new forms of cooperation among civil society actors to strengthen civil structures will be put to the test through the broad participation of the city's cultural actors in the establishment, design and administration of the planned pop-up venue. Focusing on up-and-coming artists, the project also specifically promotes unknown talents and thus creates a unique platform for young artists in Alexandria, thereby responding to the problem of the emigration of young artists.
The founding and setting up of the pop-up space is linked to a further training measure for rising actors concerning the theory and practice of working in interdisciplinary cultural areas. The associated training program for these actors of the cultural scene in the fields of production, curation and cultural management is intended to enable them to put what they have learned into practice and to use and apply it directly in a practical setting in the Cultural Garage. This also applies to the regular series of workshops in the fields of culture, stage design, direction, music production, etc. The selective workshops are aimed specifically at young talents and aim to develop skills in specific spheres of action. Coupled with the provision of premises and technical and logistical assistance, both of the advanced training programs provide lasting support for the cultural scene. The latter’s work is strengthened in terms of content, it is enabled to network nationally and internationally, and can easily access a public stage.
Furthermore, the Cultural Garage will create a flexible-use larger event space for approx. 200 to 300 spectators. Along with its use for performances, concerts, exhibitions, etc., it can also be used as a co-working space, provide workplaces and rooms for group meetings and conferences, and offer space for seminars. The space’s combination of workspace, meeting place, production site and event location is intended to offer a unique opportunity for free, independent and critical exchange among Alexandria’s various participants in culture and civil society.