In 1956, The Higher Council for the promotion of Art and Literature was established as an independent body, annexed to the Council of ministers. It aimed at coordinating governmental and non-governmental efforts in the fields of art and literature. Such a Council was the first of its kind in the Arab world; it thus prompted many Arabic countries to follow the example of Egypt and form similar councils.
Two years later, the Council became also involved in developing social sciences. For over a quarter of a century, the Higher Council for the promotion of Art, Literature, and Social Sciences continued to play an active role in the intellectual and cultural life of Egypt. In 1980, the Council was given its new title: The Higher Council for Culture, after the issue of law no 150 of the year 1980. It was not just a change of title, but a development in its role and its goals, for the Higher Council for Culture became the planning mind behind all cultural policies in Egypt. The Higher Council for Culture is headed by the Minister of Culture, its administration is delegated to its Secretary General, who also directs its policies and supervises their execution. Even though the law that established the Higher Council for Culture was issued in 1980, the Council did not start its general activity before 1982, with the issuing of its internal list.
The Council includes three divisions, followed by 25 committees that include the elite of Egyptian intellectuals, thinkers, and creative personalities from different generations and different currents. These committees give a truthful image of the cultural life in Egypt, as well as providing an honest example of the achievement of cultural and intellectual plurality, which makes it possible for the different currents to express themselves on the one hand, and to contribute to the formation of cultural policies in Egypt on the other hand.
The Higher Council for culture has witnessed an important development in its activities within the last few years, to occupy a prominent place in the field of cultural work. Its activities have extended beyond the local limit, thus keeping up with Egypt’s growing value on both the Arabic and the international arena.
Like all other institutions and cultural bodies, the Higher Council for Culture has enjoyed the government’s full support, which enabled it to achieve unprecedented accomplishments in the cultural field.
Throughout the past years, the Council has carried out a series of remarkable achievements, that It became an enlightening center for culture and thought on the Arabic and the Egyptian level, as well as an illuminating edifice of instruction throughout the conferences and seminars it organizes, with the participation of a cluster of intellectuals and thinkers from Egypt and the Arab world. These seminars have provided an occasion for cultural interaction on the Egyptian and Arabic level, as well as a possibility of contact with some of the most important researchers in the academic institutions of science, whether Eastern or Western. The Higher Council for Culture has organized a series of local, Arabic, and international conferences and seminars, discussing many issues concerning culture, thought, art, and literature, which made Cairo one of the cultural capitals not only within the Arab world, but also on the international level.