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Art Moves Africa – Retracing Roots and Tracing New Routes: Mobility and Touring in North Africa

A study by Lara Bourdin for Art Moves Africa, October 2019

A study by Lara Bourdin for Art Moves Africa, October 2019

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35<br />

Summary of Outcomes<br />

—<br />

QUOTE:<br />

« This immigration question, this<br />

‘potential immigrant’<br />

label <strong>–</strong> we carry those loads<br />

heavily. Travell<strong>in</strong>g, <strong>in</strong> <strong>and</strong> of<br />

itself (with or without an artistic<br />

purpose), is not a right that is<br />

given to us. To secure that right,<br />

we have to undergo countless<br />

adm<strong>in</strong>istrative processes, we have<br />

to lay ourselves bare, <strong>and</strong> without<br />

any guarantee of success.<br />

So much energy, so many<br />

strategies, so much paperwork…<br />

it’s exhaust<strong>in</strong>g after awhile. »<br />

H<strong>in</strong>d Benali<br />

Dancer <strong>and</strong> choreographer,<br />

founder of Compagnie Fleur<br />

d’Orange,<br />

Casablanca*<br />

—<br />

—<br />

1.<br />

VISAS<br />

—<br />

Difficulties obta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g visas for travel were one of the two most<br />

frequently cited obstacles to mobility for <strong>North</strong> <strong>Africa</strong>n cultural<br />

actors. The Schengen space has become <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly difficult<br />

to access for cultural actors from across the region due to the<br />

migration crisis, post-9 / 11 security context <strong>and</strong> heighten<strong>in</strong>g<br />

xenophobia. Young men describe themselves as personae<br />

non-gratae <strong>in</strong> Europe. Cultural actors from older generations,<br />

despite hav<strong>in</strong>g made frequent travels to Europe <strong>in</strong> the past, are<br />

also subject to visa refusals or severe time limitations for their<br />

stays <strong>in</strong> Europe.<br />

Visa issues also <strong>in</strong>hibit mobility with<strong>in</strong> the <strong>North</strong> <strong>Africa</strong>n region,<br />

for example for cultural actors wish<strong>in</strong>g to travel to Egypt <strong>and</strong><br />

Libyan artists want<strong>in</strong>g to travel outside Tunisia.<br />

The follow<strong>in</strong>g issues are most frequently cited with respect to visas:<br />

Faced with these restrictions, artists <strong>and</strong> operators must often<br />

rely on personal contacts with<strong>in</strong> embassies or m<strong>in</strong>istries to try to<br />

expedite their applications. When applications are denied, they<br />

must restructure projects: for example, many meet<strong>in</strong>gs happen<br />

<strong>in</strong> Jordan because visa access is easier than for countries such<br />

as Egypt.<br />

Refusals:<br />

Long wait times:<br />

The motive given is usually “likelihood of non-return,”<br />

often despite extensive proof of employment, means of<br />

subsistence, family <strong>in</strong> the home country, etc. Many artists<br />

feel visa refusal decisions are arbitrary <strong>and</strong> / or motivated<br />

by poor organization <strong>and</strong> / or xenophobia. While refusals<br />

especially affect young artists (<strong>and</strong> especially men), successful<br />

<strong>and</strong> established artists have also been affected.<br />

Respondents reported hav<strong>in</strong>g to wait as long as 6 months<br />

for an appo<strong>in</strong>tment at the consulate or embassy, especially<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ce many European countries ceased to process visa<br />

applications through their embassies <strong>and</strong> externalized<br />

visa services to agency TLScontact. Wait times may be<br />

so long that applicants are given an appo<strong>in</strong>tment that<br />

is after the event they planned to attend. Furthermore,<br />

delivery of the visa may take several weeks, which also<br />

jeopardizes artists’ ability to make commitments to events /<br />

residencies / etc. <strong>and</strong> follow through on travel plans.

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