Egypt/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education  

8.3.1 Institutional overview

Established in 1969, Art Academy is one of the higher education institutions, however; it does not report to the Ministry of High Education, but directly to the Ministry of Culture though in coordination with the Supreme Council of Universities. The academy as defined by Information Institution site is “an educational institution specializing in teaching expressive arts and aiming at improving art and nationalistically directing them in order to preserve the Arab heritage.” However, when it was opened there were teachers from Bolshoi Theatre teach ballet, that is, it has always been being open to world western arts and modern ones in addition to Arab traditional arts.

Institutes of Art Academy are: The High Institute of Dramatic Arts, The High Institute of Cinema, The High Institute of Ballet, The High Institute of Artistic Criticism, The Conservatory Institute, The High Institute of Arabic Music and The High institute for Folk Arts.

To join these institutes public secondary certificate and passing capacities tests are required. Only those with a license are accepted in The High institute of Artistic Criticism.

These institutes grant Master and Doctorate degrees. Free studies which were open to interested amateurs were cancelled.

The Number of Students in the Arts Academy Institutes:

  • Higher Institute for Theatre Arts: BA 319, Higher Institute for Theatrical Arts: BA 319,  Diploma 36.;  MA 5; PhD 1
  • Higher Institute for Cinema: BA 326, Diploma 48.; MA 2; PhD 4
  • The Conservatoire: Pre-BA (1-4 years) 276,  BA 104,  Diploma 40. MA1; PhD 1
  • Arab Music Institute: Pre-BA 117,  BA 188,  Diploma 34. MA 10; PhD 8
  • Ballet Institute: Pre-BA 331,  BA 67,  Diploma 11. MA 1
  • Artistic Criticism Institute: BA 129,  Diploma 79. MA 9 ; PhD 3
  • Artistic Taste Institute:   BA 56 (Does not offer a Master Degree).

Considering the reasonable number of the institutes the academy includes, he who is not well-informed about curriculums and teaching methods, may expect it to have a reasonable number of artists upon whom falls the responsibility of a widespread artistic movement serious in objectives and with profound conceptions. However, reality is different! As Dr. Nehad Saliha, former Dean of Artistic Criticism Institute says to us for our research: “Colligates learn theories and techniques, peels of culture and not culture is what they receive by lectures, and since they study only to obtain a certificate, culture in general is no longer their aim.”

Dr. Saliha’s evaluations prove the absence of a rich and effective artistic movement. Dealing with directing as if it were mere moving of actors on stages, dramatic directors don’t seek neither a comprehensive examination of the performance, nor a special reading of the text, and consequently no new potentials and shadows they add to the original. On the other hand, High Dramatic Institute colligates learn the Arabic language reading techniques relating to sound articulation features, however, they are not taught how to taste the Arabic language and figures of speech, that is why dramatic workers resort to the colloquial Arabic when preparing or adapting the wonderfully translated world plays which we used to produce in the classical Arabic. It is as if Tewfik Al-Hakeem’s plays as well as other texts written in the classical language don’t receive what foreign texts do, and as if the problem lies in choosing between the classical and the   colloquial and not in their choices being built on idleness, rashness, and ignorance instead of special artistic attitudes.

The High Institute of Cinema’s condition is better in the sense that colligates learn modern techniques and have the chance to watch films produced by the cinema interested in cinematic art more than in profit making, including world classic and modern ones and those distinguished by a special artistic impression. But the educational process is not deliberately carried out, but depends on the teacher who chooses to educate colligates by helping them trying their hands in specialized books which are not included in the curriculum in order to expand their awareness and knowledge, and developing their readings of films, whether in relation to the manner, the imagery and its meanings, or to the dialogue and its allusions.

The condition of cinema and drama institutes applies to that of other institutes within the Academy, as the information introduced in the curriculums there also does not help building neither a general nor a specialist knowledge and education. Consequently; Graduated to dance or play music, graduates, though armed with information, lack the cultural system to comprehend the position of the dealt with art within a comprehensive artistic context and more comprehensively, within a lifestyle context, as far as arts are interconnected and also related to history, and to their practices in life as a whole, etc… 

Chapter published: 07-04-2016