The Townhouse Gallery of contemporary art was established in 1998 as the first independent art space in Egypt with a remit to make contemporary arts accessible to all without compromising creative practice.
A non-profit platform for creative inquiry, Townhouse supports artistic work in a wide range of media through exhibitions, residencies for artists and curators, educational initiatives and outreach programs. By establishing strong local and international relationships, as well as diversifying both the practitioners and audiences of contemporary art, Townhouse aims to support and expand the knowledge, appreciation and practice of contemporary arts in Egypt and the region. Policy-making and programming—from day-to-day activities to far-ranging goals—are deeply informed by the gallery’s location in downtown Cairo’s bustling car mechanic’s district. Neighborhood workers and residents, artists and visitors all move within and without the gallery spaces and the lanes, blurring the line where Townhouse ends and the street begins.
10, Nabrawy Street, off Champollion Street
Townhouse has received funding from Arts Collaboratory to launch an Independent Study Program in contemporary art in January 2010. The idea of establishing the Townhouse ISP stems from our experience running curatorial workshops in the gallery for the last two years and addresses the need to build a local base of individuals with the necessary knowledge to consider a career in the arts—whether in curating, critical writing, research or academia. By maintaining a strong focus on the different contemporary art histories of the Middle East, the ISP pilot will instigate regional knowledge sharing while feeding into our current efforts to build a comprehensive archive of contemporary art practices from the Middle East. The Townhouse ISP will be modeled on similar initiatives created outside of the university context, such as the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program or the World of Art School run by the Soros Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in Ljubljana, which is structured around lectures open to the public and seminars for smaller, more targeted groups of individuals.
Our goal is for the pilot ISP to become a sustainable program and regional model that will benefit other organizations working to build similar initiatives. We aim to build a network of regional educational programs that can collaborate by sharing lessons learned, resources and guest teachers.