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Art for All: A Q&A with Haynes Mahoney

A Q&A with the American University in Cairo's new special adviser for arts and community engagement, Haynes Mahoney

By Elizabeth Lepro, photo by Ahmad El-Nemr | This Q&A appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of AUC Today. 

In this interview with Haynes Mahoney, AUC’s special adviser for arts and community engagement, the newly appointed adviser discusses the plans for AUC’s cultural future. You can read a full version of this interview here, and a recap of the very first Ramadan Nights event here.

What do you think are the positives and drawbacks of AUC New Cairo’s location?

Haynes Mahoney: New Cairo is an expanding area, and Cairo itself — Old Cairo — is bursting at the seams and is constrained geographically. But what you mostly have in New Cairo are malls and cinema complexes and really not much else. So my job is to figure out how to make AUC attractive as a cultural and artistic hub to the burgeoning population that’s moving out here, utilizing all of the resources and, first and foremost, the people who are here at AUC. We’ve got amazing talent. The challenge is to bring people in from
the community.

How will students be involved?

They’re key players. They have the passion and ideas, and we really need to do
them justice by involving them in every phase of the Arts, Community Outreach and Campus Animation program.

How would a non-arts major benefit from AUC becoming a community cultural hub?

When you’re a student, you’re dealing with a lot of theory. You’re seeing the world through the eyes of academics, which is fine. It’s what a university does primarily. But with this initiative, whether you’re a performer, a manager or a publicist, you’re reaching out to an audience that is not just your parents or fellow students, but is outside the community. That really exposes you to marketing, to getting feedback, to dealing with the outside world, the media — these practical aspects of putting on a program. It’s a lot of hands-on experience, and that is key to a liberal arts education.

Will artistic and cultural events at AUC be affordable? For the most part, yes. We should be aiming at things from a very wide spectrum. We shouldn’t exclude those who are on limited budgets or any intellectuals, artists and people who are culturally creative. We want to include everyone.
With all that’s going on in the world, why is art still important?

It’s not just important; it’s really at the core. It gives people meaning. That’s the problem we’re facing now: Everybody is on their cell phones or devices, responding to the concerns of the immediate moment, but not having a longer perspective.

“Art is a universal way of letting people look at the meaning of their lives and how they relate to history as it’s going on. People come and go; empires rise and fall; governments disintegrate. But art endures because it has an eternal message to it.”

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