Egypt/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.9 Employment policies for the cultural sector

There are no clear employment policies in the cultural sector, for example from the 1952 Revolution and to the last days of Sadat era university graduates were being distributed on all ministries equally. This led to bureaucratic accumulation given that only cultured people qualified to work as cultural promoters are supposed to be appointed in MOC.

However MOC became a registration office crowded with bureaucrats and most of those have no cultural vision, in addition the fact that MOC is not a producing ministry thus doesn’t offer many incentives and its salaries are low.

The same applies on all the key MOC sectors such as cultural and plastic arts palaces, which gradually eroded the very concept of cultural amongst MOC workers[1].

At present, and after the state moved toward market liberalization, the employment system in the government sector changed and became a fixed-term contacting system, while permanent employment became on a narrower scale.

There are no specific employment standards for MOC positions in the light of a regime controlled by favoritism where connections matter but knowledge does not.

The same applies on the selection of senior officials or heads of key MOC agencies and institutions. For example Dr. Hussein Al-Guindi, who is a graduate of the Cinema Institute and is not associated with theatre in any way, was appointed chairman of the National Organization for Theatre, Music and Folk Arts and before that he was director of the Cultural Development Fund.

Another example is Asst. Minister Ayman Abdel Moneim in 2007, who was in prison for corruption charges, was occupying three key positions in the same time: director of Cultural Development Fund, supervisor of Fatimid Cairo Development Project and manager of the Civilization Museum (construction in progress).

In general, MOC workers are subject to the Labor Law (see chapter 5) and artists are subject to the rules of the unions they are affiliated to. Artists who are not members in any union are not granted unemployment allowance and are not insured (see chapter 5).

Changes after January revolution did exist but minor and insufficient, there was an attempt to fill the leadership/management positions through fair and honest process in order to hire qualified personnel rather than appointing candidates based on personal relationships, starting with general managers and undersecretaries, to include department heads and supervisors which can be considered an attempt to change, but that is not enough by itself to create a system overhaul, it is just a step in the right direction.

Even during the changes made to 14 leadership positions at the Ministry of Culture in 2014, the selection process is still unknown and only follows a general framework of merit-based appointment without clear regulations.

[1] Interview with Dr. Faisal Younes – former First Deputy Minister of Culture for foreign relations

Chapter published: 01-04-2016