About the Ministry
Throughout history, Egypt has been the homeland of arts, literature and different branches of culture. The Egyptian civilization, which has astonished the world since it began to recognize Egypt's monuments and heritage, witnesses this. In many of its definitions, civilization is culture. Egypt, therefore, is the birthplace of all manifestations and creativity of human civilization and culture. Egypt had realized all trends, tools and bodies of civilization before it had a ministry as a state-sponsored institution, which was founded in 1958 -- more than sixty years when cultural activities started taking an institutional framework bearing the name of ministry. Egypt, throughout its long history, has had cultural institutions, associations, organizations, institutes, newspaper, magazine houses and media institutions – most of them were established thanks to civil efforts – as well as universities, academies and institutions of education. All of them were concerned with affairs of culture coupled to education. All of these provided the general cultural atmosphere in which generations of thinkers, cultured persons, artists and writers emerged in different forms of arts and creativity of culture. From the generation of Rifa'a at-Tahtawi and Muhammad Abdu and Mustafa Lofty Al-Manfalotti, Ahmed Shawqi, Hafez Ibrahim, Fatma Roshdi, Aziza Amir and George Abyadh, to the generation of Naguib Mahfouz, Taha Hussein, Al Mazni, Al Aqqad, Mahmoud Mokhtar, Seif Wanly, Sayyed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Abdel Wahhab, Al-Rihani, Youssef Wahbi, Faten Hamama, Shadia and others, for instance.
Egypt became aware of the art of photography in the nineteenth century when it was created. In 1896, Egypt witnessed the first film show, one year after the first worldwide film show in Paris. Monument houses were known in Egypt. The Egyptian Book House (Kotobkhana) and Document House (Daftarkhana) were known as the first national library and archive in the Arab world. In 1869, Khedival Opera House was established to present all forms of opera arts. Historians consider this century as the age of modernization. Having recognized the arts of theater since the late nineteenth century and film art since the early twentieth century, Egypt established a music institute, broadcasting house, T.V. complex, Academy of the Arabic Language in the twentieth century.
A long history marked with a vital cultural movement which searched for original heritage with which the movement communicated with intellectual currents and contemporary global culture. The movement-established groups, institutions, museums, salons, committees, bodies for authorship, translation and publication were civil, by majority. Some of them were sponsored by existing regimes whether they were Khedival or royal. When the July Revolution started in 1952, its military pioneers were a result of this culture. Their revolutionary project did not start out randomly; however, it found great cultural heritage by associations, institutions, bodies, houses and academies.
History of the Ministry
Before the 1952 July Revolution, in Egypt, there was a stand-alone cultural apparatus only in two fields: books and antiquities. In first field, there was the Egyptian Book House of long history founded in the era of Khedive Ismail in 1870. For the second field, Egypt had the Antiquities Authority which was established in the nineteenth century. As for other cultural activities during the first years of the revolution, in addition to the above mentioned two authorities, there were two bases. One was literary base represented in General Administration of Culture established by the Ministry of Education in 1936. The other was the Arts Authority which was founded in accordance with a presidential decree issued on 30 November, 1955 to sponsor the arts of theater and cinema and fine arts.
Thereafter, the revolution government started to assign many activities of culture and its institutions to the Ministry of National Guidance which emerged for the first time in the Egyptian cabinet reshuffle after the revolution. Some limited cultural affairs especially in the field of arts became within the missions of the Ministry of National Guidance. The fact is that although the first function of this ministry was confined to the call for the principles of the revolution and definition of the revolution’s programs, and social and political movements, it paved the way to the interest in culture, in general. The Ministry of National Guidance added an artistic cultural role to its media and directive tasks. Later, it required bearing the name of Ministry of Culture and National Guidance in February, 1958.
The Culture remained associated with National Guidance till its activity expanded, and its authorities increased and strengthened. High hopes, which required having a respective ministry bearing the name of "Ministry of Culture", were built. A ministry gathered its authorities from different existing ministries and bodies to be a stand-alone institution agreed upon and specially sponsored by the state. Thus, cultural activity took an evolving institutional framework supporting and attracting national cultural activity. Therefore, culture became absolutely independent from the body of national guidance in 1965.