Since its inception, Townhouse has strived to make the arts accessible to different groups of society, whilst using them as a powerful medium for integration and understanding. The gallery’s Outreach Programme offers a number of arts workshops for adults and children, through which we are able to reach participants from all over Cairo, including those with special needs and from marginalized communities.
The SAWA Workshops for the Visual Arts take place every Saturday at our Factory space and welcome individuals from diverse ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. SAWA (meaning “together” in Arabic) originally started as a small workshop for refugees and has been quickly expanded to become the gallery’s most successful outreach programme, reaching over a thousand individuals a year.
By providing a communal, un-politicized space where people – regardless of race, gender of class – can make art, the SAWA workshops break down obstacles of communication and understanding. Past Outreach programmes developed by Townhouse have included the Friday Workshops for Working Children, which was later transformed into the SAWA Saturday workshops. These provided a creative space where child laborers could express their individuality, build peer relationships and develop their communication skills, bringing them a confidence and self-esteem that could be applied to their daily lives. The workshops encompassed instruction in different fields – visual arts, animation, theatre – and included day trips to places outside of the children’s immediate locale as well as literacy classes and topics relating to the rights of children.
Recently, SAWA’s programmes have included photography workshops, oil painting instruction by renowned Egyptian artist Ibrahim El Tanbouli and a six-month fashion school project from September 2014 – March 2015.