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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

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36<br />

Summary of Outcomes<br />

High costs :<br />

Bureaucracy :<br />

Prejudice <strong>and</strong><br />

discrim<strong>in</strong>ation<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st artists :<br />

Age <strong>and</strong> gender :<br />

Short duration of<br />

stay granted :<br />

Access to<br />

embassies:<br />

Lack of<br />

bilaterality:<br />

A Schengen visa currently costs 60 euros. Photocopies or<br />

certified copies of documents may add additional costs, as<br />

does travel to the embassy.<br />

Visa applications can require applicants to submit large volumes<br />

of paperwork, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g proof of employment, bank<br />

records, letters of authorization, paystubs, etc. These documents<br />

can be difficult to obta<strong>in</strong>, especially for artists who<br />

work as freelancers <strong>and</strong>/or work <strong>in</strong> discipl<strong>in</strong>es that are not<br />

recognized under local labour laws. Bureaucracy can also be<br />

a major obstacle because of the sheer volume of documents<br />

<strong>and</strong>/or the amount of detail required (one respondent reported<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g asked to submit all paystubs s<strong>in</strong>ce her very first job).<br />

Moreover, none of these documents are a guarantee, s<strong>in</strong>ce<br />

several respondents reported hav<strong>in</strong>g been denied access to a<br />

country despite hav<strong>in</strong>g submitted all the required paperwork.<br />

Several respondents reported hav<strong>in</strong>g been subjected to prejudice<br />

<strong>and</strong>/or discrim<strong>in</strong>atory treatment by visa <strong>and</strong> immigration<br />

authorities on account of their professional status as artists.<br />

Young men are reportedly the most likely to be denied visas,<br />

due to xenophobic associations with del<strong>in</strong>quency <strong>and</strong> terrorism.<br />

In the case of Schengen visas, respondents reported be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

given as little as 2 days on their visa. The time granted usually<br />

corresponds to the duration of the event, leav<strong>in</strong>g no time for<br />

artists to network, attend other events, or simply enjoy the<br />

experience of travel, with all the <strong>in</strong>spiration, connections <strong>and</strong><br />

unexpected opportunities that it may br<strong>in</strong>g. Moreover, s<strong>in</strong>ce<br />

multiple-entry visas are <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly difficult to obta<strong>in</strong>, artists<br />

must re-apply for every trip.<br />

<strong>Art</strong>ists <strong>and</strong> cultural operators liv<strong>in</strong>g outside capitals or major<br />

cities have to travel to the embassies to complete the visa<br />

procedures, <strong>in</strong>curr<strong>in</strong>g extra costs for travel <strong>and</strong> accommodation,<br />

forc<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dividuals to take days off work, etc.<br />

Several respondents deplored the <strong>in</strong>consistency between<br />

European countries’ cultural <strong>and</strong> immigration policies, whereby<br />

a discourse of openness to cultural exchange <strong>and</strong> an<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g fashion of “spotlight<strong>in</strong>g” <strong>North</strong> <strong>Africa</strong> are <strong>in</strong> conflict<br />

with <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly restrictive visa policies.<br />

—<br />

QUOTE:<br />

« If you’re an <strong>in</strong>dividual artist,<br />

[travell<strong>in</strong>g] is a huge amount of<br />

stress <strong>and</strong> work, often for<br />

no reason. Difficulties are built<br />

<strong>in</strong>to the process. Either it’s an<br />

issue with a visa or time or<br />

fund<strong>in</strong>g. There always seems to<br />

be some sort of<br />

panic with someth<strong>in</strong>g. There<br />

must be a better way. »<br />

Nada Sabet<br />

Theatre director <strong>and</strong> cofounder,<br />

Noon Creative<br />

Enterprise, Cairo<br />

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