William Wells became a cultural pioneer when he established the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo in 1998. This was the first independent art space in Egypt created with the objective of promoting contemporary art in Egypt, and using art as a medium for integration and understanding by providing a number of different groups in Egyptian society with access to the art field.
Today, the gallery hosts regular exhibitions to present the works of up-and-coming young artists alongside those of fellow artists who are already internationally recognised. It provides rehearsal and working spaces for use by theatre groups and film and video makers, houses an art library and operates an extensive programme of cultural outreach with workshops and events for adults, children and marginalised segments of the populace. In all of its activities, the Townhouse Gallery works closely with regional and international institutions and cultural operators to make better use of existing resources and facilitate international exchange among artists. Each year, several international artists are invited to the Townhouse Gallery as part of its residency programme, where they work and offer workshops for local artists. In 2009, the Townhouse also launched what is known as the Rooftop Studio Project, providing workrooms for Egyptian artists. An extension of its residency programme to include curators and authors is currently in planning. The Cairo-based gallery has recently become a foundation.