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Nawah Community Arts Festival concludes with awarding distinguished theatre performances and members

Nawah Community Arts Festival concluded its activities with Zad Art Team on Monday December 7, in a ceremony attended by the Minister of Youth and Sports Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt, Ambassador Christian Berger, Dr. Martino Melli, Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, UNFPA Representative in Egypt Dr. Aleksandar Bodiroza and Hisham El-Ruby, CEO of Etijah Youth and Development Consultancy Institute.

The festival was launched on November 21 and ran until December 7 at the Civic Education Center in Zamalek and featured 13 theatrical productions in additions to music performances. It aimed to spread awareness and highlight the main role that Community Theater plays in development.

Dr. Sobhy and Dr. Bodiroza presented the first place award to both 10th of Ramadan Nawah team and Aswan Nawah team for their performances “Life Circus,” and “Failure” respectively.

The second place award went to both the Fayoum and Haram Nawah teams for their performances “Porto Saboura” and “Keys” The Minya and Menufiya Nawah teams were awarded third place for their performances “Hit Like,” and “A Second Life” respectively. 

The Special Jury Award was presented to Qena Nawah Team for their performance that used the “playback technique” in addition to some individual awards to distinguished teams and volunteers during the various stages of the project throughout the year. 

The performances were evaluated by a committee of experts that assed the performances based on 3 main criteria which included: how the performance addressed a community issue, interaction with the audience andthe artistic aspects of the performances.

The jury committee included a representative from UNFPA, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Etijah in addition to two well-known theatre experts; Director Abir Ali Hozaien and Critic Mohamed Elrouby. Hozaien is a theatre director, writer, theatre trainer and a member of the Theater Committee and the Supreme Committee for the Experimental Festival of the Supreme Council of Culture in Egypt. Elrouby is the Editor in Chief of “Our Theater” newspaper, a lecturer at the Academy of Arts and a judge in many local and international festivals.

Dr. Sobhy praised the idea of using theatre as a tool to change social norms, saying that he trusts the idea of investing in creative young people, adding that he hopes they turn into professional theatre performers in the future.

Ambassador Berger also praised the performances.

“We have listened to the beautiful voices of young artists at this festival supported by the EU and our partner UNFPA; their messages expressed in songs and poetry informing young people about family planning and promoting the benefits of smaller-sized families. Indeed two key aspects to achieve the goals of Egypt’s National Population Strategy,” he said.

On his part, Dr. Bodiroza lauded UNFPA’s partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, saying that it stems from the fact and understanding that 62 percent of the population are under the age of 29, and “from understanding that investing in the leadership of young people will translate into change and help Egypt achieve its 2030 agenda.”

He added that it also came from understanding and investing in young girls and that their health and wellbeing will be “the deciding element that will help us get to 2030.”

The festival comes as part of the Population Program and the Humanitarian Program, operating under the Ministry of Youth and Sports in cooperation with UNFPA and Etijah.

It was held with the support of with the support of the European Union under the EU Support to Egypt’s National Population Strategy project, and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

The €27 million EU project aims to increase the use of voluntary, rights-based family planning through improved supply of family planning services and commodities, increased demand for family planning, and enhanced governance for implementation of the National Population Strategy.

The Population and Humanitarian Program employs entertainment and art tools, which include music and interactive theater, and aims to raise awareness on gender-based violence, family planning, the concept of the small family and harmful practices against girls. It is carried out at Population Awareness Clubs around Egypt’s governorates.

The performances are a result of workshops conducted with the help of Zad Art Team, who coached volunteers on developing theatrical scripts and songs through online workshops to raise the awareness of their communities on various issues including female genital mutilation, family planning and gender-based violence.

Population Awareness Clubs operate within different Youth Centers across the country, hosting various activities on population issues and their impact on youth using different tools. UNFPA also operates 14 safe spaces for women and girls in seven different governorates, hosted with implementing partners such as CARE International and Etijah, within the youth centers of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The Safe Spaces operate with the support of various donors including the European Union, the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development, the Canadian Embassy in Egypt, and the Norwegian Embassy in Egypt.

Thirteen theater groups were established in the Safe Spaces and Population Awareness Clubs in 13 governorates, bringing together amateurs of all ages and genders.

The festival was livestreamed on UNFPA as well as Etijah’s social media accounts.