Traditional Egyptian music is increasingly in danger of being relegated to the status of an exotic tourist curiosity, a showcase of national identity or a place on the shelves of academic archives, all of it far from the daily lives of its dwindling practitioners. A complex dynamic of increasing access to media music, video clips and advertising music serves to marginalize traditional music as, at best, exotic and nostalgic (something to be resurrected once a year during Ramadan) and, at worst, backward and irrelevant to life in the prestigious fast lane. Local religious vocal traditions are also increasingly marginalized by an expanding local sensibility that perceives the Saudi sound as more religiously pure and relevant.
The Egyptian Center for Culture & Art (ECCA) was founded in 2002 to record and present traditional music in Egypt. ECCA is also committed to, not only facilitating the work of visiting researchers, but to raising the issues and profile of such work among local academicians, researchers and students. ECCA is housed in a residence in near the Giza pyramids and in an old printing house in downtown Cairo (Makan).
ECCA aims to record and present traditional music in Egypt as a vibrant and renewable cultural resource that bridges Mediterranean and sub-Saharan African cultures. ECCA further encourages efforts to re-awaken the multi-layered complexity of Egyptian culture of music and arts, to return the music to the critical role it has played in the daily life and imagination of the Egyptian people, to counter the trend to isolate it from its original communities, to share this rich resource with the world community and, by presenting it in new contexts to encourage perception of this music as a resource for creativity.
Our objectives are:
To participate in safeguarding Egyptian cultural memory by researching the intangible cultural heritage of Egypt and by encouraging the re-establishment of popular traditions and social festivals.
To contribute to dialogue among people from different cultures through an intense process of artistic production.
To present to a wide audience Egyptian oral and traditional arts as they are now rarely practised.
To encourage the diversity, specificity and vibrancy of Egypt's cultural scene as a strategy to counter cultural uniformity, consumerism and an increasing intolerance for the marginal