A group of young Egyptians in Zagazig are turning what started out as a hobby into a project that they hope will be a driving force to open people’s minds and provide a space for cultural exchange in their city.

Their brainchild, Kepler, is going to be a cultural centre that’s mainly a library café, where they intend to screen films, have book discussions, hold seminars and debates, and much more.

It started out as a group of friends who wanted to watch a film together and ended up renting a projector, speakers, and booked out a small hall and got the show started.

In the following four years, they held around 60 such events, like film screenings and book readings, including some where they collaborated with other organisations, like co-working spaces, teaching centres, and the Zagazig Public Library.

“In Cairo, there’s a problem with a lack of cultural places, but as soon as you leave it, you find that this problem is 10 times worse,” said Ahmed Zidan, the founder of Room Art Space, a cultural centre in Cairo.

What the friends found is that, at first, everyone may seem to agree on a topic of discussion, but not long after, they began to see philosophical differences, and healthy debates and discussions raging between viewers/readers.“We never wanted to give anyone information,” said Mohamed Ashraf, the Second Season Head of the Organisation. “All we want, mainly, is for people to think.”

Kepler is the result of a decision by the group to make their own space for their endeavours, as they found difficulty with funding sources and finding sponsors. They envision it having books that members can come in and read for free, along with all the events they hope to keep putting on.

They’ve created a crowdfunding campaign to realise their dream through IndieGogo.com and supporters get a special recognition when they donate: their name written on the wall of the space. They want to do it as a distinct recognition of the collective nature of the project, along with 50% off all activities for the members. The campaign has been endorsed by a host of Egyptian intellectuals, including cartoonist Andeel and Room Art Space founder Ahmed Zidan.  

You can help spread culture in the capital of the Sharqia governorate here.