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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89<br />

Country-Specific Information<br />

· Foreign currencies can no longer be withdrawn <strong>in</strong><br />

Tunisia. As such, local organizations can no longer<br />

pay <strong>in</strong>vited artists <strong>in</strong> currencies other than d<strong>in</strong>ars.<br />

Tunisian organizations can no longer pay <strong>in</strong> euros,<br />

which means that even if we <strong>in</strong>vite an artist, we can’t<br />

pay them. Even if there are structural mobility funds<br />

that can be used to cover the artist to come to Tunisia,<br />

the problem is that the central bank no longer grants<br />

money for cultural activities. There’s a cash deficit. <strong>–</strong><br />

Béatrice Dunoyer, program director, L’<strong>Art</strong> Rue, Tunis*<br />

· The weaken<strong>in</strong>g of the d<strong>in</strong>ar is also plac<strong>in</strong>g important<br />

constra<strong>in</strong>ts on artists.<br />

Tickets with<strong>in</strong> <strong>Africa</strong> are too expensive. We can get a<br />

ticket from Tunis to Paris without any problem, but to<br />

go to Mali, it’s 1700 d<strong>in</strong>ars off the bat <strong>and</strong> the currency<br />

is <strong>in</strong> a free fall. For an artist to live, to prosper, it’s very<br />

difficult if they don’t have support for the flight or their<br />

stay. It’s very difficult for an artist to meet his/her needs. <strong>–</strong><br />

Cyr<strong>in</strong>e Gannoun, theatre actor <strong>and</strong> director, Director,<br />

Théâtre Al-Hamra/Centre arabo-africa<strong>in</strong> de formation<br />

et de recherche théâtrales, Tunis*<br />

Transport of artworks<br />

· There are restrictions on the types of goods that may<br />

be transported outside of Tunisia. <strong>Art</strong>works <strong>and</strong> heritage<br />

items cannot not be taken outside the territory<br />

without authorization from the M<strong>in</strong>istry of Culture.<br />

Visas<br />

· Several respondents noted that Tunisia’s visa policy<br />

is subject to frequent changes, which are <strong>in</strong> turn difficult<br />

to track.<br />

· Visa restrictions are gett<strong>in</strong>g tighter <strong>and</strong> tighter for<br />

travel to Europe <strong>and</strong> are grow<strong>in</strong>g with MENA countries<br />

such as Egypt <strong>and</strong> Lebanon.<br />

Lack of <strong>in</strong>frastrucure<br />

· Several artists noted that they do not have sufficient<br />

access to competent <strong>and</strong> motivated cultural operators<br />

to assist them <strong>in</strong> search<strong>in</strong>g for fund<strong>in</strong>g <strong>and</strong> prepar<strong>in</strong>g<br />

their fund<strong>in</strong>g applications.<br />

· Accord<strong>in</strong>g to Shiran Ben Abderrazak, executive director<br />

of the Fondation Rambourg, there is a strong<br />

desire for tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g for cultural managers. To meet this<br />

dem<strong>and</strong>, the Université Tunis-Dauph<strong>in</strong>e launched a<br />

Master’s <strong>in</strong> cultural eng<strong>in</strong>eer<strong>in</strong>g this year, <strong>and</strong> the<br />

Institut des Hautes Études Commerciales-Carthage<br />

<strong>and</strong> the Fondation Rambourg are <strong>in</strong> the process of<br />

—<br />

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—<br />

creat<strong>in</strong>g a cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g education program <strong>in</strong><br />

cultural management.<br />

Restrictions on freedom of expression<br />

· Freedom House rates Tunisia as “free”. However,<br />

control cont<strong>in</strong>ues to be exerted <strong>in</strong> covert<br />

ways, for example through the ceil<strong>in</strong>gs imposed<br />

on withdrawals of d<strong>in</strong>ars <strong>and</strong> expenses <strong>in</strong><br />

foreign currencies (see “Currency” above).<br />

The state has passed new laws on associations<br />

<strong>in</strong> an attempt to fight aga<strong>in</strong>st organizations that<br />

were launder<strong>in</strong>g money <strong>–</strong> the money was go<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to the extremists. Among other laws, there is<br />

now a very strict limitation on daily withdrawals<br />

of d<strong>in</strong>ars (an association cannot withdraw<br />

more than 500 d<strong>in</strong>ars/day, or 150 euros). It’s a<br />

golden opportunity to smother civil society as a<br />

whole. <strong>–</strong> Béatrice Dunoyer*<br />

· More explicit cases of censorship have also<br />

been documented, for example with the police<br />

clos<strong>in</strong>g down an exhibit at Maison de l’Image<br />

<strong>in</strong> 2017.<br />

Lack of identification to <strong>Africa</strong> <strong>and</strong> racism<br />

· Tunisia portrays itself as an open country.<br />

However, nearly all respondents agreed that<br />

racism permeates Tunisian society. The history<br />

of slavery has yet to be unearthed, <strong>and</strong><br />

black Tunisians from the South cont<strong>in</strong>ue to be<br />

treated as second-class citizens. In its extreme<br />

forms, this racism is expressed <strong>in</strong> discrim<strong>in</strong>ation<br />

<strong>and</strong> violence aga<strong>in</strong>st black Tunisians, <strong>and</strong><br />

students <strong>and</strong> other immigrants from other<br />

<strong>Africa</strong>n regions.<br />

· In the artistic community, respondents report an<br />

awkwardness about Tunisia’s <strong>Africa</strong>n identity<br />

<strong>and</strong> a mistrust towards other <strong>Africa</strong>ns.<br />

We have huge issues with racism here. Black<br />

people are considered second-class citizens. It’s<br />

horrible. [First, there are] the black people who<br />

come from the South, who are Tunisian, <strong>and</strong> who<br />

already face an atrocious level of racism. Then,<br />

we have lots of Sub-Saharan students, from Côte<br />

d’Ivoire, from Senegal, <strong>and</strong> all those who have<br />

fled their countries. The average Tunisian is a<br />

profoundly racist person. <strong>–</strong> Malek Sebaï, dancer<br />

<strong>and</strong> choreographer, co-founder, Association<br />

Hayyou’Raqs, Tunis*

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