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CAIRO - 12 April 2020: COVID-19 created many crises in various institutions around the world. However, some institutions faced the virus with great wisdom, converting the imposed house quarantine into something useful by utilizing the digital revolution.
Technology has made work and entertainment possible from home. Among those institutions that COVID-19 has not intercepted is the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.
Egyptian Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem addressed the dangers of the virus at an early stage, and began implementing the decisions of the prime minister to suspend cultural and artistic activities and prevent gatherings entirely to limit the spread of the deadly epidemic.
Immediately, the ministry searched for alternatives to reach the largest audience and made all its cultural and artistic activities available on its official channel on YouTube and on the various social media platforms, with an emphasis on the necessity of staying at home.
The Egyptian Ministry of Culture then launched the initiative "Stay At Home, Culture is Between Your Hands”, where all the cultural sectors began broadcasting and uploading their content on the internet.
Supreme Council of Culture
The council launched the "Read with Us" initiative. The initiative presents a reading of a chapter in a book or novel, a short story, or a poem, in a 10-minute recording made by the writer/ poet himself.
The Supreme Council of Culture then uploads the daily readings on Facebook and YouTube.
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Culture Hisham Azmy said that the council is activating more than one e-initiative, including the Short Seminar Initiative, which will result in providing awareness messages to address the novel coronavirus by the psychology, social and scientific culture committees.
Azmy stressed that the electronic initiatives presented by the Supreme Council of Culture in light of this crisis will not stop, even after the end of the crisis, because it has achieved great resonance and interaction.
General Egyptian Book Organization (GEBO)
As part of the initiative launched by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, the GEBO has made available a large number of books online for free, in addition to providing numerous publications of the National Center for Translation, House of Books (Dar el-Kotob) and the National Documents.
Head of GEBO Haitham el-Hag Ali said that the organization benefited from that experience and will surely keep on providing that service after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the GEBO can activate the purchase of e-books online.
Fine Arts Sector
Within the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, the Fine Arts Sector has displayed the contents of all its art museums online on the Ministry of Culture’s official channel, allowing tours within the various museums from home.
Head of the Fine Arts Sector Khaled Sorour said that the arts sector is presenting a panorama on its art exhibitions, which will be displayed on its official page, and will do more online artistic exhibitions after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Center for Child Culture
The center presented many cultural, artistic activities as well as activities raising awareness against COVID-19, through children's stories, theatrical productions and cartoons. The activities received great interaction from the children and creators at the center.
Mohamed Abdel Hafez Nassef said that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Center for Child Culture received on average 300 children in its garden. In light of the crisis, more children interacted via the internet, and the center estimated that the activities provided were accessed by an estimate of 50,000 children on a daily basis.
Nassef stated that the activities provided by the center will resume after combating the pandemic, due to the success it achieved.
It is worth noting that the Ministry of Culture received through its YouTube channel 11,508,000 visitors, with the total number of watched hours reaching 126,737 hours so far, and the channel recording 83,000 subscribers.
Viewership came intensely from more than 25 countries around the world, namely (in order) Egypt, Saudi Arabia, America, UAE, Canada, Kuwait, Germany, England, France, Netherlands, Jordan, Australia, Oman, Bahrain, Iraq, Tunisia, Italy, Morocco and others.
The average age groups of viewers came as follows:
18 to 34 years: 59 percent, 35 to 44 years: 21 percent, 45 to 64 years: 15 percent, 13 to 17 years: 2 percent, over 65 years: 3 percent. Males recorded higher views with 52.5 percent, while females recorded 47.5 percent.
Most of the views came through social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in addition to the official website of the Ministry of Culture and the Egyptian Opera House.