The Tahrir Cultural Center: Reviving an Important Role

By Tarek Atia
The Tahrir Cultural Center was established to revive the American University in Cairo’s strong and important presence in the heart of downtown Cairo.

AUC has played a vibrant and vital role in enhancing the cultural, artistic and public intellectual life of Egypt, the region and the world from this central location for 100 years. TCC, in the 2 years since its foundation, has managed to help AUC re-establish itself as a key player in the downtown arts and culture scene, via a re-invigorated and impressive campus and a strategic public arts program that has been both high-level yet accessible, thus fulfilling the ambitions of all those involved.

From celebrations of the winners of the Ahmed Fouad Negm Prize for Colloquial Arabic Poetry to Free public screenings of The Joker, to the Glitch International Art Exhibition, TCC is continually creating programs and spaces and areas of focus that break the barriers and fill the landscape with much needed cohesion and diversion.

Theater & Performance:

TCC’s Falaki theater has established itself as the preferred home for high quality independent theater productions whose primary goal is artistic, not just commercial. The theater hosted 76 performances for over 24,000 people, including “Love’s End” by Pascal Rambert and the award winning “Mama” by Ahmed El Attar, in addition to 15 workshops.


TCC carved the niche for heritage based documentaries and classics from the history of cinema that other venues have not been able to provide. Either free of charge, or with reasonably priced tickets, TCC has screened 39 films and hosted 6 masterclasses for over 5,000 cinema lovers. Premiers included the award-winning “Where did Ramses Go?” by Amr Bayoumi, which was screened twice to full houses, and included discussions with the director. Audiences were also treated to a screening of the US box office hit “The Joker”. The Heritage Film Series was just one of the ways TCC has focused on being a hub for the preservation and promotion of Egypt’s rich cultural heritage. Five heritage-focused documentary films were shown over the course of two months, each featuring engaging discussions with the directors, to packed audiences in Ewart Memorial Hall


TCC hosted and organized 43 music concerts in a variety of genres, including a ground-breaking tribute to Egyptian composer Hany Shenouda, a legendary musician and composer, a unique concert concept that took audiences on a magical journey through a career they may have been familiar with, but were not aware of at the same time. In addition to the ongoing series of AUC-based classical music troupes, and AUC alumni Gala El Hadidi’s centennial celebration concert, the annual Cairo International Jazz Festival also delights audiences with performers from around the world filling multiple stages over the course of several days, including multiple enchanting shows in the main garden.


TCC has become the preferred home for Cairo’s largest independent arts and culture festivals, attracting audiences of all ages. The “Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children” brought in nearly 5000 people over 9 days for local and international performances in February-March 2020, and the “Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival” brought in over 1,500 people in 2019.


TCC established itself as a public facing arts venue, a much-needed positioning in the mostly commercial Egyptian scene, with multiple exhibitions including Glitch, Corner of a Dream and Beit Um Amel, garnering rave reviews and sophisticated audiences hungry for this kind of sophisticated yet accessible fare. In total, 24 exhibitions were attended by 17,700 people over the course of the year. TCC also developed and hosted a unique exhibition about the life and career of Egypt’s first prima ballerina Magda Saleh, which was widely attended over the course of its multi- month run. The exhibition was also accompanied by an exclusive screening of a documentary about Saleh’s achievements

Public Lectures & Conferences:

TCC revealed AUC’s intellectual weight via over 60 lectures and seminars attended by 8,240 people in subjects as diverse as politics, history, economics, translation, public health, entrepreneurship, and more.

And it’s only just the beginning…