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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60<br />

Country-Specific Information<br />

—<br />


—<br />

Repression of civil society organizations<br />

· NGOs <strong>in</strong> Egypt have been fac<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g<br />

harassment, censorship, raids <strong>and</strong> persecution.<br />

They are be<strong>in</strong>g required to navigate <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly<br />

complex bureaucratic mechanisms, with<br />

permissions required for nearly all activities.<br />

We don’t use state theatre or big theatres because<br />

we have issues with censorship. We don’t<br />

want any of our works to be censored. We try to<br />

work with cultural <strong>in</strong>stitutes to avoid censorship. <strong>–</strong><br />

Adel Abdelwahab, <strong>Art</strong>istic director, Hewar for Independent<br />

Theater & Perform<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Art</strong>s, Alex<strong>and</strong>ria<br />

· The most relevant laws, <strong>in</strong> terms of mobility,<br />

are those that require CSOs to apply for permission<br />

to host foreign artists.<br />

For example, if a Moroccan artist wants to come<br />

to Reflection <strong>Art</strong>s, I have to get a permission<br />

for him to work with me. If there are any fees,<br />

<strong>in</strong>come from a performance, etc., I have to get<br />

a permit. If we do the project <strong>and</strong> I’m still wait<strong>in</strong>g<br />

for permission, I also have to get another<br />

permit to send money abroad. <strong>–</strong> Ahmed Eldeeb,<br />

Co-founder <strong>–</strong> Director, Reflection for <strong>Art</strong>s Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

& Development, Alex<strong>and</strong>ria<br />

· Because laws are often passed fast <strong>and</strong> <strong>in</strong><br />

secrecy, cultural operators <strong>and</strong> artists can<br />

easily be caught <strong>in</strong> legal traps.<br />

Restrictions on receiv<strong>in</strong>g foreign fund<strong>in</strong>g<br />

· The regulations on receiv<strong>in</strong>g foreign funds are<br />

plac<strong>in</strong>g particularly tight constra<strong>in</strong>ts on artists’<br />

mobility. Accord<strong>in</strong>g to Freedom House, “all<br />

NGO fund<strong>in</strong>g <strong>and</strong> basic management decisions<br />

are also subject to regulators’ approval.” <strong>Art</strong>ists<br />

report that this process can be extremely<br />

lengthy.<br />

We have to report every step that we take <strong>and</strong> every<br />

grant that we get. The last one we got was from<br />

SouthMed CV, but we didn’t get it immediately,<br />

because we needed permission from the<br />

authorities. We applied for the permission <strong>in</strong><br />

January 2017 <strong>and</strong> waited until October. The<br />

whole time we were manag<strong>in</strong>g our relationship<br />

—<br />

E<br />

G<br />

Y<br />

P<br />

T<br />

—<br />

with SouthMed CV. They asked us “what is your<br />

action plan?”. We said, “don’t worry”. We only<br />

got the permission <strong>and</strong> the grant <strong>in</strong> the last 3<br />

months. We didn’t have the chance to use the<br />

funds wisely, as we had planned earlier. <strong>–</strong> Ahmed<br />

Eldeeb, Co-founder <strong>and</strong> director, Reflection for<br />

<strong>Art</strong>s Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g & Development, Alex<strong>and</strong>ria<br />

· Faced with this situation, funds are ceas<strong>in</strong>g<br />

operations <strong>in</strong> Egypt, leav<strong>in</strong>g artists <strong>in</strong> an even<br />

tighter spot.<br />

Visa restrictions<br />

· Entry to Egypt has gotten <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly difficult<br />

<strong>in</strong> recent years, with lengthy application<br />

processes at embassies abroad <strong>and</strong> arbitrary<br />

refusals.<br />

· Several respondents noted particular difficulty<br />

for Tunisians to enter Egypt (corroborated by<br />

respondents <strong>in</strong> Tunisia <strong>–</strong> see Tunisia section)<br />

Egyptian embassies abroad are hard to deal<br />

with when it comes to ask<strong>in</strong>g for visas for Arab<br />

citizens. Tunisians <strong>and</strong> Moroccans have such<br />

a hard time gett<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to Egypt <strong>–</strong> they get many<br />

rejections. <strong>–</strong> Basem Abuarab, Executive director,<br />

Al Moharek Book<strong>in</strong>g Agency for Independent<br />

Arabic Music, Cairo<br />

· Moreover, Egyptians themselves must obta<strong>in</strong><br />

permissions to travel to certa<strong>in</strong> countries <strong>and</strong>/<br />

or security clearance at the Cairo airport.<br />

Travel restrictions for men <strong>and</strong> women<br />

· Young men from the military service age need<br />

to get permission from military <strong>in</strong> order to travel.<br />

· Women need to get a permission/confirmation<br />

from their families that they are travell<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

certa<strong>in</strong> countries.<br />

Ambivalent identification with <strong>Africa</strong> /<br />

Discrim<strong>in</strong>ation<br />

· Many respondents noted that Egyptians do<br />

not identify as <strong>Africa</strong>ns, not<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> particular<br />

Egypt’s unique geographic position<strong>in</strong>g <strong>and</strong><br />

greater identification to the MENA region<br />

· Racism is also extremely prevalent <strong>in</strong> Egypt,<br />

target<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> particular the Nubian <strong>and</strong> Sudanese<br />

communities as well as <strong>Africa</strong>n migrants.<br />

Nubian resistance movements are frequently<br />

met with violence <strong>and</strong> repression.

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