Egyptian government officials have ordered the close of the contemporary art center Darb 1718 in Cairo, the Art Newspaper reported on Thursday. The center is being demolished for the construction of a new major road.
The head of the center’s local district and the deputy governor reportedly showed up at Darb 1718 and told staff to leave the building in 30 minutes.
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“When we asked for an official notification, they could not provide us with anything,” Darb 1718 founder Moataz Nasr told the Art Newspaper.
One of the first cultural spaces in the city to host exhibitions, concerts, events, and workshops, Darb 1718 announced the news of its closure in an online petition, which has garnered more than 11,000 signatures since it was posted on July 27. Nasr also filed a lawsuit with the state council. These efforts have so far delayed the center’s demolition.
Meanwhile, Nasr has said the center’s social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram have been suspended.
The building sits in the centuries-old Fustat area of Cairo, where many of the the city’s last traditional craftspeople remain. In addition to Darb 1718, two buildings that hold workshops are also expected to be destroyed.
The area is being cleared to accommodate a road expansion and the construction of a bridge connecting the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and the Nile corniche. The plan, however, comes at the cost of the preservation of a number of heritage sites and notable dwellings.