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Townhouse Gallery Hits Yet Another Wall As Demolishment Only Gets Postponed

Bad news keeps rolling towards Townhouse Art Gallery, which has recently partially collapsed and had been previously shuttered. Now, a new committee has been assigned to carry on another assessment regarding a possible demolishment.

In a truly sad turn of events, Townhouse Gallery, which had been recently renovated and then partially collapsed on the 6th of the month, is now awaiting demolition, which was postponed just today, according to Mada Masr.

The contemporary arts venue was shuttered in December 2015 after a surprise inspection took place by the Interior Ministry’s Office of Artistic Products Police Department, Tax Authority, National Security Agency as well as the local office of the Ministry of Manpower. The raid was not explained and there was no issuance of search or arrest warrants during the time, even though personal laptops, employee IDs, paperwork, and displayed artwork were among the items to fall under inspection.

This was not the only bad news for the gallery as part of its main building collapsed on the 6th of April, according to ArtNet News. Though no one was injured, the destruction included the recently-renovated gallery extension as well as a few administration offices. Townhouse’s staff will be resuming operation on the 10th of the month at the Factory Space.

The paper factory turned art gallery, and one of Egypt’s oldest contemporary art spaces, is said to have partially collapsed after the staff had noticed some cracks, after which it was evacuated and inspectors were called in, according to ArtForum.

That marks a setback for the gallery, which has been trying to reopen since December 2015 when it was last closed down. Though the gallery was promised to resume operations on the 4th of April, its main exhibition remained closed, according to The Art Newspaper

Just yesterday, April 9th, the Deputy Governor of Cairo made a visit to the art gallery and listened to complaints of tenants about the decision to demolish the building, as issued by a municipality committee, according to Mada Masr.

This comes after a group of building tenants as well as volunteers contacted head of the National Organization of Urban Harmony, a government-run heritage protection body, directly after the decision for demolishment was issued, reports Mada Masr.

According to Mada Masr, former Townhouse employee Mido Sadek claims that the demolishment will, therefore, not take place until a new committee has been sent to assess the building as promised by the deputy governor. The new committee is expected to be assigned within the coming couple of days. However, hopes should not be raised as the Deputy Governor stated on Saturday that “the demolition order is final and will be carried out,” points out Mada Masr who quote Sadek.

It is also worth noting that the tenants had organised a standoff in protest of the decision and had refused at the beginning to collect their belongings and evacuate the building in preparation for the demolishment. Six families, in addition to a textile workshop and mechanics' workshops as well Townhouse, were among the protesting tenants against what many see as an arbitrary decision.

For more information about the gallery, you can check out their Facebook page as well as their website.