The cancellation of the Italian Embassy's concert in Egypt - to be held in the city of Luxor - sparked a state of widespread controversy, after the reason for the cancellation of the concert was attributed to the Syndicate of Musical Professions demanding the organizers of the concert to pay financial fees.
Local newspapers said that the Italian ambassador had received a request from the Syndicate of Musical Professions stating that a fee of $25,000 was required to obtain the necessary permit, which prompted the embassy to communicate with the Ministry of Culture, which in turn confirmed its inability to interfere in these procedures, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.
For his part, pianist Ahmed Abu Zahra - authorized by the Italian embassy to organize the concert, said in local press statements - that full permits have been obtained from the Ministry of Antiquities to hold the concert, and security and tourism approvals remain, but the Syndicate of Musical Professions seeks to impose unreasonable fees for the concert, according to his statements.
Abu Zahra said that the Syndicate of Musical Professions demanded that the concert organizers pay fees amounting to approximately $25,000, at $500 for each foreign musician in the band, which includes 38 foreigners and 12 Egyptians, but the embassy refused to pay.
The pianist indicated that the Luxor concert was canceled despite the orchestra's arrival in Cairo and the completion of the "rehearsals" stage (experiments), stressing that there will be two more concerts in Cairo and Alexandria this weekend, as part of the special program of the Italian embassy.
Musicians Guild Response
In an official statement, the Syndicate of Musical Professions made it clear that the General Syndicate is not in conflict with anyone, and that the reason for the dispute is the need to obtain a license from the company organizing the concert, and the estimation of the license depends on a set of criteria, even if there are free invitations to the concert, and that these fees are added to The Subsidies and Pensions Fund, on which the Syndicate relies for its resources, and among these criteria - for example - the nationality of the musicians and the number of participants;
All these considerations are taken into account when estimating the relative fee for the ceremony.
Captain Mustafa Kamel confirmed - in the statement he issued through the union's official spokesman, Muhammad Abdullah - that the concert includes the presence of 52 foreign musicians, and the law allows a certain number, indicating that the union has many musicians who want to work, and the union seeks to implement this.
Pointing out that he addressed the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities to confine foreigners to hotels, and a work permit must be obtained from the Musicians Syndicate, pointing out that the Syndicate is a permitting body and not a prevention body.
The Musicians Syndicate confirmed that if the union was addressed or applied to any government agency, they would be helped, and no fees would be obtained, and they would be granted the necessary permit to hold the concert.
The captain also commented in an intervention for the “Tahrir Hall” program with the media, Azza Mustafa, and said that he did not prevent the ceremony, but it is an authority that gives the permit, and that what happened is not new because it is like any of the state agencies that collects fees, and if the matter is neglected, the artistic works and the workforce will not be obtained. Also on their fees.
He added that it is normal in the case of organizing a concert for foreigners to pay fees, and that when he travels to sing abroad, the party that recruits him pays special fees for him.
He added that he was surprised by a call from the Musicians Syndicate in Luxor informing him of the matter, referring to the recruitment of 52 foreign musicians, in light of the fact that the problems related to musicians and musicians are the recruitment of foreigners to work instead of them, and the number should not have exceeded 20 foreign musicians.
He concluded his intervention by saying that those in charge of the ceremony did not inform him that they belong to any government agency, so if the ceremony belongs to the Egyptian state, he will not demand any fees.
For his part, the Secretary General of the Musicians Syndicate, Ahmed Abul-Magd, told Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper that the organizing party had paid all fees to the temple, insurance and other necessary steps for holding the concert, denouncing the organizers' unwillingness to pay the syndicate's funds to obtain the necessary licenses, although there was a desire to reduce These fees must be coordinated with the Ministry of Culture to obtain the discount.
Abu Al-Magd also indicated that the Ministry of Culture confirmed the integrity of the union’s position, and that the matter is not governmental until a reduction is obtained in one way or another, and then the contractor decided to communicate by phone with the head of the Syndicate of Musical Professions, artist Mustafa Kamel, to ask him to obtain a reduction, and here the whole matter seemed incorrect. And that there are parties involved in the matter, and the union's position was decisive - according to his description - by not allowing a party to be held without obtaining licensing fees.
Wide condemnation and controversy
A large number of social media pioneers and artists also interacted with the crisis.
Director Amir Ramses wrote - on his Facebook page - that the cancellation of a free concert by an international orchestra in an archaeological site is sad news, and the parties are supposed to cooperate to make it a success.
He added that apart from the value of the ceremony, the transformation of union work into profitable or commercial work is a narrow view of art.
Director Manal Al-Saifi described on her page what happened as a great loss, and that this file must be considered by the president himself because it is of interest to the country.