|05CAIRO9425||2005-12-21 12:52:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Cairo|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 009425
1. Post is pleased at ECAs commitment to revitalizing
cultural and sports programming and eager to
collaborate in developing effective new approaches.
These programs are invaluable tools for developing
mutual understanding with different socio-economic
levels, especially Egypts emerging youth, a target
demographic for this Mission.
2. Answers to specific questions follow.
A. Which of your Mission objectives benefits from
cultural programs or could be better supported by
cultural programs including sports programs?
Cultural programming benefits all strategic goals.
Posts 2004 translation and production of Our Town
generated an exchange of ideas on diverse subjects from
Counter-Terrorism to Promotion of Democracy and Human
Rights. For a number of years, music scholarships from
groups such as Apple Hill have provided opportunities
for Egyptian musicians to work with Israelis, thus
building support for the goal of Regional Stability.
Sports programs have enormous potential to build good
will with Egyptian youth and their parents. Last
years basketball Cultural Envoys gave non-elite
Egyptian students a rare opportunity for substantive
interaction with Americans. The lessons conveyed were
not just about basketball but about human rights and
democratic access, and that excellence can bring
rewards. We would strongly encourage increased
emphasis on sports programs.
B. What kind of specific cultural or sports programs
or initiatives are, or would be, most effective in
supporting those objectives?
In planning cultural outreach, we should strive for a
balance of programs accessible to broader, non-elite
audiences (sports, music, theatre in translation work
well) and programs for more sophisticated audiences
that show the excellence of American arts and bring
viewers into touch with current thinking (art
exhibitions, dance, film and video). Exchanges in the
arts, as in other fields, are one of the very best ways
to change perceptions of the United States; grantees
who teach or train others produce a considerable
multiplier effect. Smaller, more mobile programs are
needed to move outside major cities and reach broader
audiences. For cultural programming, local
participation pumps up the impact. For example,
workshops or inviting local musicians on stage are
preferable to straight performances. More ambitiously,
Cairo took advantage of the Regional Arabic Book
program to translate a play into Arabic which an ECA-
provided American director staged in Arabic with an
Egyptian cast. This is a model that requires a long
time-line, careful planning and significant resources,
but one that produced exceptional results.
C.What constraints does your Mission face in
effectively utilizing cultural, arts, and sports
Cairo suffers from a shortage of venues. Appropriate
theatres, galleries and arenas are often booked months
in advance in Cairo and Alexandria. Facilities in
provincial towns often lack basic requirements such as
lighting and sound, or impose onerous requirements to
obtain permission to use them. We also have internal
staff and funding constraints. Egypts highly mannered
and bureaucratic culture makes planning any event very
labor-intensive. Cultural programs, particularly those
that reach large, diverse audiences, require
considerable planning. Venues must be visited,
permissions must be sought, many details arranged over
a period of time. Even small cultural presentations
can take large chunks of our program budget. The New
Orleans All Stars Jazz Band, for example, though funded
mostly by Washington, cost Post almost $8,000. For
that event, we had to forego televising the concert
because the jazz band required payment of an additional
premium if it was televised. Publicity costs to reach
the broader audiences that we target represent a major
budget consideration. Ambitious projects suffer from
our inability to financially commit to programs that
need planning in one fiscal year for implementation in
D. How have you been able to partner with the private
sector in your country to sponsor cultural/sports
events, or to overcome resource (staff and funding)
For many years, Cairo carried out quite extraordinary
cultural programming with funds raised through its
Corporate Cultural Fund. Some fundraising is still
possible, but we are now competing with an increasingly
active Egyptian civil society. Cultural institutions
are often willing to give venues for free or for
minimal charges. Sports clubs would welcome athletes.
This post has benefited from private American artists
who often come to Cairo. By providing small grants to
these artists, the Mission has been able to expand our
3. Thank you for this opportunity to encourage more
cultural and sports programs and to discuss the
challenges and benefits these programs offer.