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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85<br />

Country-Specific Information<br />

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T<br />

U<br />

N<br />

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The Tunisian cultural sector has been flourish<strong>in</strong>g<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ce 2011, with the energy of revolution <strong>and</strong><br />

the loosen<strong>in</strong>g of laws allow<strong>in</strong>g for a veritable<br />

explosion of new forms to emerge, especially<br />

<strong>in</strong> the areas of photography, dance, street art<br />

<strong>and</strong> performance.<br />

Tunisia has long boasted a strong tradition<br />

of festivals, with more than 400 amateur,<br />

semi-professional <strong>and</strong> professional festivals<br />

tak<strong>in</strong>g place yearly around the country. The most<br />

well-known are the different “Journées” tak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

place <strong>in</strong> Carthage: the Journées c<strong>in</strong>ématographiques<br />

de Carthage, the Journées théâtrales,<br />

the Journées musicales, the Journées chorégraphiques,<br />

the Journées poétiques <strong>and</strong> the<br />

Journées d’art contempora<strong>in</strong>. Even as these<br />

established festivals thrive, new <strong>in</strong>itiatives from<br />

civil society are creat<strong>in</strong>g important momentum:<br />

l’<strong>Art</strong> Rue’s Dream City has become a flagship<br />

event <strong>in</strong> the region, <strong>and</strong> other events like Interférences,<br />

Jaou (by the Kamel Lazaar Foundation)<br />

<strong>and</strong> a new festival of photography on the isl<strong>and</strong><br />

of Kerkennah are also mak<strong>in</strong>g an impact.<br />

The arts sector <strong>in</strong> Tunisia is strongly<br />

centralized <strong>in</strong> Tunis <strong>and</strong> the <strong>North</strong>, although<br />

decentralization efforts are underway. Several<br />

associations (Cité’Ness, Fanni Raghman Anni,<br />

<strong>and</strong> the Tunisian Culture Network, among others)<br />

as well as private <strong>in</strong>dividuals are work<strong>in</strong>g hard to<br />

reach rural areas of the country, although they<br />

underl<strong>in</strong>e the difficulty of such efforts given the<br />

limited government support <strong>and</strong> cost of travels.<br />

I<br />

S<br />

I<br />

A<br />

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Tunis has become a hub for regional travel due to<br />

its political stability, its centrality <strong>in</strong> <strong>North</strong> <strong>Africa</strong><br />

<strong>and</strong> the relative openness of its borders. In <strong>North</strong><br />

<strong>Africa</strong>, the most active axis of exchange is with<br />

Morocco. Strong ties also exist with Algeria,<br />

namely thanks to the geographic proximity which<br />

has allowed some artists to travel by car from<br />

Alger to Tunis. However, respondents noted that<br />

the repressive context <strong>in</strong> Algeria <strong>and</strong> the limited<br />

visibility of certa<strong>in</strong> discipl<strong>in</strong>es (especially dance<br />

<strong>and</strong> theatre) has made exchange more difficult.<br />

Tunis is connected by air to most major<br />

cities <strong>in</strong> <strong>North</strong> <strong>Africa</strong>. Road travel to Algeria is<br />

possible, but travel<strong>in</strong>g to Libya by road is not<br />

advisable due to military presence at the border.<br />

A tra<strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e is due to connect Casablanca, Algiers<br />

<strong>and</strong> Tunis but the project is currently stalled.<br />

Tunisia’s visa policy is the most open of<br />

the region. However, exchange with the rest of<br />

<strong>Africa</strong> rema<strong>in</strong>s weak (see Impediments below).<br />

This is despite a strong desire for connection<br />

with the rest of the cont<strong>in</strong>ent. Until recently, travel<br />

to most <strong>Africa</strong>n dest<strong>in</strong>ations <strong>in</strong>volved fly<strong>in</strong>g via<br />

Paris. However, Tunisair has recently upgraded<br />

its connections to West <strong>Africa</strong>. Flights to other<br />

dest<strong>in</strong>ations <strong>in</strong> <strong>Africa</strong> typically go via Casablanca,<br />

at steep costs.

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