The MENA region has a great
wealth of talent and initiatives waiting to be discovered. Since 2011, lots of new
ideas and energies have emerged. This is a good moment to honour, celebrate and
share lively and concrete examples that enhance the public value of culture in
this region. This publication wants to give visibility to the many artists, creators,
curators and cultural workers within the region and beyond.
The short project features aim to inspire further
exchange and cooperation within and with the MENA region. The compilation
“Building the Future” presents selected projects that had an impact on the
cultural transformation in the MENA region in the period from 2011 to 2018. The
publication is a joint co-production between long-standing like-minded partners
working in and with the region. The aim of the publication is to showcase the
wealth of talent and initiatives beyond MENA regional borders and share these
with the international cultural community. Get inspired and connected!
Windows of Opportunity
The projects featured here are very diverse—in terms of geography, topics, approaches, and ways of cooperation, funding mechanisms and partners involved. However, they all have one thing in common: they were born in a democratic spirit and an atmosphere of renaissance and empowerment—a renaissance of civic rights, of opportunities beyond national borders, of cultural liberty and of sharing resources. The social and political uprisings in the Arab region in 2011 opened new spaces for action for civil society. Many European countries expressed support through cooperation, capacity building, funding and exchange programmes. A vivid landscape of cultural and artistic initiatives took shape. Strong partner and actor networks emerged, multiple knowledge partnerships were created. Further enabling factors were mutual curiosity and openness to learn from and about each other through collaboration. The cultural distance, especially between Europe and the MENA region, seemed to be shrinking. Multiple cultural connections and cooperations allowed many of the partners and audiences involved to grow closer together. While in some MENA countries fundamental constitutional rights are being considerably strengthened, in other countries the space for civic action is and has been diminishing, especially in situations of massive violence. The task of enabling laws and fiscal frameworks is crucial. The projects presented here tell a small part of this complex story. They give a flavour of how arts and culture in a sustainable development perspective contribute to building the future.
How this Publication came about
The initiators and partnering
organisations developed an online grid to identify projects to be featured. The
invitation to contribute via this grid was widely published among organisations
and stakeholders from the region. This approach was chosen in order to create a
de-centralised albeit orchestrated storyboard.
The editorial team selected the featured projects based on the following criteria:
1) implementation during the period of 2011 to 2017
2) geographical and thematic balance and diversity
3) degree of innovation (“new experiences”)
4) originality of self-organizing cultures in civil society
5) success in demonstrating the public value of culture
6) potential to connect the region with itself
7) positive impact on the target group/community
8) originality of spirit of collaboration/partnership
9) originality of methodologies
All project stories are presented using the same structure, to ensure that they can be read about and compared with ease. The fluid format of the publication allows for the steady addition of further stories about inspiring projects in the future. Please feel free to share your experience with the editorial team via the online grid
Initiators of this Publication
The project was initiated by the German Commission for UNESCO and the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) and further co-developed with Racines and Ettijahat—Independent Culture. All partners have been working on manifold cultural cooperation projects in and with the MENA region since 2011, or even before. They are part of a broader knowledge partnership network that has emerged in the MENA region.
German Commission for UNESCO
…is the link between Germany and UNESCO. It is one of 196 National Commissions for UNESCO and acts as an intermediary of Germany’s foreign cultural and educational policy. In the framework of the Transformation Partnership programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the German Commission for UNESCO has developed CONNEXXIONS since 2011, a programme that strengthens democracy and cultural participation in the Arab region through capacity building, exchange of experiences, knowledge transfer and networking.
European Cultural Foundation (ECF)
… is an independent and impact driven foundation that accelerates, catalyses, connects and communicates civil society initiatives in arts and culture—rethinking and building Europe as an open, inclusive and democratic space. It supports cultural changemakers and their projects through grants, exchanges, online platforms and incubator programmes. ECF highlights stellar examples of culture as a force of positive change through the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture. ECF connects the local to the European, the grassroots to the policy, and facilitates collaboration.
…is a Moroccan non-profit organisation advocating for the integration of culture into public policies of human, social and economic development. Racines is born from the desire of Moroccan cultural actors, convinced that many issues surrounding culture are common to African and Arab countries (lack of involvement of governments in cultural policies, non-recognition of culture as a human right, weak creative industries, lack of protection of artists’ rights, lack of training in cultural jobs…). Racines’ projects are articulated around cultural policies (research, advocacy, mapping), arts and culture for social change, cultural entrepreneurship, training and capacity building, freedom of artistic expression and artists’ rights and status.
…is an organization, currently based in Beirut, founded at the end of 2011. Ettijahat seeks to activate a positive role for independent culture and arts in the process of cultural, political and social change. Ettijahat tries to achieve that by supporting artists and operators of cultural initiatives, enabling young researchers to build consensus and alliances between individuals and cultural institutions, promoting the arts and artists through regional and international platforms, and helping Syrian communities wherever they have access to culture and arts.
Lampedusa Mirrors, Tunisia & Italy
Tunisia and ItalyDoing it TogetherLampedusa Mirrors
A Tunisian and an Italian community look at each other from the two shores of the Mediterranean to discover dreams, frustrations, challenges and prejudices about migration, using empathy and understanding to go beyond mass media coverage: Lampedusa Mirrors is the theatre experience and intense 10-month-long learning journey of two cultural managers, two organisations and around 80 young people, set in between two opposing narratives.
Lampedusa Mirrors’ 10 Key Facts
1) Objective Raising awareness for both sides of migration via theatre among young people
2) Thematic area Theatre and migration
3) Target group Theatre professionals, educators, teenagers and young people as well as local authorities and the general public
4) Implementing and partner organisations Lampedusa Mirrors is a collaboration project between Eclosion d’Artistes (Tunisia) and Teatro dell’Argine (Italy), in collaboration with Institut Supérieur D'Art Dramatique and Association L'Art Vivant, Tunis, Bologna University, Bologna, Intercultural Centre M. Zonarelli, Comune di San Lazzaro di Savena and ilgirovago.com
5) Geographical character Mediterranean, interregional (Europe, Arab region), local
6) Implementation period June 2014March 2015
7) Funded in the framework of the programme Tandem ShamlCultural Managers Exchange, an initiative of the European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam), MitOst (Berlin), Al Mawred Al Thaqafy (Cairo) and Anadolu Kültür (Istanbul), with support from the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany), DOEN Foundation (Netherlands) and Mimeta (Norway)
8) Total budget EUR 15,600
Lampedusa Mirrors’ Story
During the project, students interviewed young Tunisians aged between 11 and 31 who had either experienced the sea crossing to Lampedusa, or hoped to. Some of them were 21 but looked 50 years old. Some of them had been in prison in Italy. Some of them had tried to commit suicide when sent back to Tunisia. One of the students asked: “Why are you doing this? You risk dying!” One of the Tunisians answered: “Hope is 50%50%.” These words were crucial in making the teenagers in Italy understand the reasons why migrants cross the Mediterranean.
The Why, What and How
The island of Lampedusa mirrors the dreams and frustrations, hopes and stereotypes of two communities, the Tunisian and the Italian, united and divided by the Mediterranean. Eclosion d’Artistes and Teatro dell’Argine initiated the project in the framework of Tandem Shaml to break down stereotypes and to create deeper understanding between both communities through the artistic means of theatre.
Two theatre workshops aimed at teaching tools to young theatre professionals in both countries in order to prepare them to work with teenagers from the most disadvantaged areas. Educating future trainers and involving teens and young people through interviews and theatre work were the chosen pathways to building a long-term cultural action in local communities: giving them working tools and a voice. Workshops culminated in final performances and were video-recorded to further sensitize both communities to the issues involved. A final event in Bologna, Italy included an Italian-Tunisian performance and the screening of a video documentary about the whole project journey. This documentary was also shown in schools and festivals around Europe.
Quote“Almost three years have passed from the project end and still we are invited to talk about Lampedusa Mirrors in conferences, seminars and workshops about the role of arts in society.”
The Most Significant Change…
…can be best seen in two boys aged 16 who came from Gambia as asylum seekers, so-called ‘unaccompanied minors’. They had only been in Italy for one month when they agreed to participate in the projectwithout speaking a word of Italian. They worked hard, with sad, frightened eyes but laughing with their fellows, using theatre as a common language. Two years later, they still collaborate in Teatro dell’Argine’s theatre workshops as peer-to-peer tutors for newcomers.
The outcome is the enhanced professional capacity and skills of 80 young people through active involvement, collaboration and listening. The cultural managers themselves shaped their capacities and skills and those of their organizations by testing new methods, learning new approaches and applying these to future projectsas they did together in another co-production.
On a long-term basis, the project enables cultural activities in disadvantaged areas in both countries, thanks to the young people: Lampedusa Mirrors represents an intense experience through which they can connect and upon which they can build in the future.
The inspiration of this practice lies in “doing it together” rather than doing it by yourself.
EgyptReviving the Art of StorytellingFlying Rug Storytelling Festival
Flying Rug is the first storytelling festival of its kind – presenting contemporary and folkloric stories in marginalized communities in Egypt. The project could not be fully implemented due to national legislation for international funding that changed fundamentally. It is an inspiring example of how to raise awareness of the right of citizens to participate in cultural development by reviving a traditional creative activity – the art of storytelling.
Flying Rug’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective To revive the art of storytelling in marginalised urban areas and communities
2. Thematic area contemporary, heritage and folkloric stories from Egypt and other Arab countries, cultural expressions and cultural rights
3. Target group audiences of all ages from underprivileged and marginalized communities, national and international storytellers
4. Implementing and partner organisations El-Takeiba Centre for Artistic and Cultural Development; Sahara Association
5. Geographical character Local: marginalized urban communities in Egypt
6. Implementation period 2015 (local pilot)
7. Not funded
8. Total budget N/A
Flying Rug's Story
The Flying Rug festival was conceived to raise awareness about the right to participate in cultural and artistic development through an unusual type of artistic activity. Originally it started as a local initiative in Al Tabeika in Greater Cairo, Egypt. During the implementation of Flying Rug, the initiators faced several challenges. In November 2016 national legislation for associations changed fundamentally in Egypt. Subsequently, foreign funding required permission by national authorities. This often resulted in incompatible deadlines and requests.
Another key challenge was the withdrawal of the main implementation partner, an Egyptian foundation, when the project had just started. This led to the loss of an important international grant. Thus, the project has not—so far—been able to broaden its scope from local to national, regional and international.
The Why, What and How
The goal of the story-telling festival is to engage citizens in marginalized communities in an interactive dialogue, and to play a role in the organization of artistic activities. Flying Rug wants to revive the art of storytelling and to introduce alternative forms of entertainment within marginalized communities. The project encourages Egyptian and international storytellers to perform in different public spaces as well as to gain exposure and engage with new and different audiences. In doing so, artists’ fears and concerns about working in and with disadvantaged groups and areas will be overcome.
Flying Rug re-uses public spaces for artistic and cultural events and emphasizes the value of collaboration, networking and partnership between different kinds of actors. Flying Rug is an inspiring example of how to reach out to marginalized communities and revive both traditional and new cultural practices and artistic activities.
Quote“Improving the lives of people who hadn't had the chance to participate within artistic and cultural frames in marginalized and disadvantaged regions, opening up new horizons for innovation, and building a new generation who can contribute to building a new base working towards innovation and development.”
The Most Significant Change
…was the willingness of some organizations and artists to focus more on marginalized areas and groups. Traditionally, projects had focused mainly on central areas of Egypt.
Thus, Flying Rug can be seen as an inspiring example of engaging with new audiences in different and also disadvantaged areas.
Unfortunately, the project could not be fully implemented due to the challenges brought by new national legislation, the requirements of international funders and the withdrawal of a key partner from a joint application for an international grant—which led to the loss of funding for the project.
As a condition for a successful implementation of Flying Rug in the future, the initiators underline the need for more flexible grants that focus on marginalized areas, and that can cope with the ongoing security circumstances as well as with the complex working conditions in the region.
Arabic Comic Network
Palestine, Morocco, EgyptComics as an Educational ToolArabic Comic Network, Tamer Institute for Community
As the first of its kind, the Arabic Comic Network creates a platform for comic artists to collaborate, share
and publish their creations both within the MENA region and worldwide.
The project strengthens the capacities of comic artists to create educational tools that can be effectively used inside associations and public institutions to work on humanitarian and social challenges within communities.
Arabic Comic Network’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Strengthen collaboration and outreach of Arabic comic artists, promote the use of comics as an educational and social tool
2. Thematic area Comic art
3. Target group Comic artists, young artists in Palestine, Morocco and Egypt, school students, children and young adults visiting libraries and reading comics
4. Implementing and partner organisations Tamer Institute for Community Education in cooperation with Skefkef magazine, Morocco, Kawkab Al rasameen, Egypt, Koshk Comics, Egypt and Khalil Al Sakakini Cultural Centre
5. Geographical character regional (Palestine, Morocco, Egypt)
6. Implementation period January to December 2017
7. Funded by SouthMed CV, a programme initiated by Fundació Interarts, BAC Art Center, Gudran for Art and Development, Khayal Arts & Education, National Centre for Culture and Arts and the German Commission for UNESCO. The programme is co-funded by the European Union within the framework of the regional programme Med Culture.
8. Total budget EUR 73,839
Arabic Comic Network’s Story
This project is the first of its kind that establishes a comic network to connect Arab comic artists from all the different Arab countries. Thanks to this project, these artists finally have a medium through which to collaborate and share their creations regionally and internationally. This project will also help artists in building their capacities to create comics as educational tools which can be used by associations and public institutions to reinforce positive values in their communities. This is new and important: children are in need of finding a form of attractive expression. Comics are a powerful form of artistic expression, so it is important that we invest in them.
The Why, What and How
In the Arab world, comics have historically been underestimated as a form of artistic expression. But in the last decade, a young generation of artists have carved out an important role for comics within the Arab artistic and cultural scene. To strengthen these abilities, the Tamer Institute in Palestine along with its partners from Egypt and Morocco decided to create an Arab Comic Network for artists in the MENA region.
The project has four main objectives: to build the capacities of different partners through shared experiences and practices; to promote the use of comics as an educational and social tool in the community and share possible sources for funding; to strengthen the abilities of Arab artists in the field of comics and to work as a network, as well as to spread the Arab comic in Europe through translation into different languages and media diffusion. The Arabic Comic Network project wants to build bridges between comic artists in Morocco, Egypt and Palestine. It wants to empower young artists to develop their comic illustration skills and to produce their own publications of comics.
Local exhibitions, the translation of comics as well as the printing and dissemination of comic books all enable the artists to have their work published.
Quote“Comics are a language in and of themselves, a language of unity”
The Most Significant Change…
…was the connection between the comic artists in the Arab region. They now collaborate on projects and most importantly, publish their work jointly. The project also helped to shape the capacities of young artists. As part of the project a website was launched, not only to establish a platform for Arab comic artists, but also using an inclusive approach to gather all actors interested in producing Arabic comics. With its activities and the online platform, the project created a much-needed space for comic artists in the region to express themselves, collaborate and publish their artistic work. The Arab Comic Network successfully supports the use of comics as educational tools to work on humanitarian and social issues inside associations and public institutions, inter alia by disseminating works to public libraries and schools.
The project already inspired many artists and comic magazines to join and collaborate within the network. In 2018 the project will extend its regional scope to Tunisia and Lebanon and intends to continue to grow and expand to include all the Arab artists and international artists interested in Arabic comics.
EgyptTaking the Streets by ArtElFan Midan
ElFan Midan, “Art is a Square”, was an independent cultural initiative of people claiming public space in Egypt. Starting in April 2011, the one-day cultural festival was held each month in public squares all-over Egypt. By October 2011, it had reached out to 14 governorates and cities and embraced social and political messages. Before being shut down in 2014, the festival was one of the most sustainable cultural platforms in Egypt.
ElFan Midan’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Bringing art and culture to the streets all over Egypt in support of freedom of expression, democracy and diversity
2. Thematic area Art and culture in public space
3. Target group the people of Egypt, civil society and cultural institutions, independent artists and youth groups, official cultural institutions, security institutions, media
4. Implementing and partner organisations Egypt’s independent cultural institutions, the Coalition of Independent Culture, a group of volunteers from the governorates of Egypt in cooperation with Egyptian citizens and official institutions
5. Geographical character Public squares all over Egypt
6. Implementation period April 2011 – August 2014
7. Funded by donations from individuals and Egyptian independent cultural institutions, human rights institutions and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture
8. Total budget EUR 60,000 (3 years and 8 months, 14 cities)
9. No website
ElFan Midan’s Story
The initiators have brought back a right that had been absent for decades: Egyptian citizens’ right to make use of public space and offer cultural and artistic expressions and experiences to the people.
In the first two years, the organizers witnessed a significant positive change, in that it obtained official authorization from security services.
Nevertheless, the project could not continue and the activity was stopped in September 2014 because authorities refused to issue further permissions due to security reasons.
The Why, What and How
The political situation in Egypt following the 25 January 2011 created an urgent need for civil society to play a clear and strong role in spreading concepts such as social justice, freedom and equality widely among citizens. ElFan Midan was launched by a group of independent culture and human rights activists and institutions. The intention was to respond to the spirit of the mass mobilisation of the revolution and to show support through cultural and artistic activity.
The initiative quickly turned into a platform for political messages to and from the people: for example, it demanded the abolition of military trials of civilians and expressed the grief of the people over atrocities which happened after the revolution.
The methodology is simple and effective: A monthly artistic and cultural festival in the public squares of the different governorates of Egypt. It was organized by a group of volunteers from the cultural sector, following a clear set of rules:
* Primarily relying on voluntary efforts and contributions
* Partnering with the media and working on coordination with local authorities
* Each festival to include performances, children's activities, workshops, exhibitions, a book fair and swap, films, seminars.
As a result, the project enabled cultural actors to play their part in supporting civic freedoms, social justice and equality. Creativity, innovation and freedom of expression were encouraged during 40 months in more than 12 governorates. Nearly 300,000 people enjoyed experiencing a great diversity of cultural expressions. Public squares and streets were restored as spaces for people to meet, dialogue and create.
The Most Significant Change…
… could be seen in the new relationship between citizens, society, art and culture, as well as citizens’ relationship with public space. It widened the Egyptian cultural audience by allowing for dialogue among all citizens in public squares, not only in closed cultural spaces or centres.
The project also provided a unique funding model based solely on voluntary donations, thus emphasizing the essential role that civil society, actors and independent artists can play in society.
The experience of ElFan Midan showed that a different organizational model—so far unique in Egypt—is possible through horizontal management and collective action. The project was also pioneering in the way it dealt with official institutions: relying solely on donations, without any additional administrative structure.
The project was the beginning of further cultural initiatives in public spaces and cafés. It stressed the concept of decentralization of culture and the support of youth groups, which led to a new formation of groups capable of continuing this work in their respective provinces.
Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt and MoroccoRegional Exchange for Sustainable Cultural PoliciesMARSAD—Mediterranean Action and Research for Sustainability and Development
MARSAD is a network for research and critical analysis on cultural policies
in Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia and Egypt. Cultural operators in the region can exchange expertise, and share and access data and information via a joint online platform and database. MARSAD builds the foundation for regional collaboration and evidence-based, sustainable cultural policy-making and advocacy in the region.
MARSAD’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Enable interregional networking, knowledge exchange and cooperation on cultural policies
2. Thematic area Research and analysis on cultural policies in the fields of education, training, diversity, governance and production
3. Target group Decision-makers, cultural professionals and organizations, researchers and artists as well as the wider public
4. Implementing and partner organisations Racines—an association for cultural development in Morocco and Africa in cooperation with the Me’zaf Association (Lebanon), ElMadina for Performing and Digital Arts (Egypt), Our Culture First association (Tunisia)
5. Geographical character Regional – Morocco (Casablanca), Egypt (Alexandria), Lebanon (Beirut) and Tunisia (Tunis)
6. Implementation period February 2017–January 2018
7. The project is funded by SouthMed CV, in partnership with InterArts, BAC Arts Center, the Gudran Association for Art and Development, Khayal, the National Center for Culture and Arts, the German Commission for UNESCO, the Roberto Cimetta Fund, Africa Art Lines and the Norwegian Royal Embassy (Rabat). The project is co-funded by the European Union within the framework of the regional programme MedCulture.
8. Total budget: EUR 74,959
“During our activities we discovered the real contexts of our partners and started to understand their achievements, difficulties and struggles. It is fascinating to see how close our societies are and how similar our approaches as NGOs are to addressing social and political issues such as democracy, freedom of expression and access to culture. However, we also realized when mapping the creative and cultural sector that our challenges, and ways to address these, are sometimes quite different. MARSAD reinforced our will to work within a network, to strengthen our voices, to learn from each other, to support our initiatives and to lead advocacy campaigns together.“
The Why, What and How
In order to counter a lack of information, data and collaboration on cultural policies in the MENA region, the project MARSAD was initiated by the Moroccan NGO Racines in partnership with organizations from Lebanon, Tunisia and Egypt. The initiators saw an urgent need to establish a network of cultural operators, enabling cooperation and exchange on research and critical analysis in the field of cultural policies in the region.
A common online platform was established to strengthen cooperation, evidence-based cultural policy-making and effective advocacy as well as to support cultural professionals and organisations in implementing their projects on solid ground. Reports, conventions, laws and research related to training, copyright, status of the artist, governance and taxation in the field of cultural policies could now be shared via a database in Arabic, English and French.
Moreover, content was generated by comprehensive research undertaken by each partner association and qualitative interviews, as well as by public discussions and brainstorming sessions.
Finally, in December 2017 a website and publication will provide an overview of the state of cultural policies in the respective countries, dedicated to cultural experts and the public at large.
Quote“Culture is the solution.”
The Most Significant Change…
…consists in the recognition that without a comprehensive understanding of the cultural field in the region, operators, institutions and artists cannot develop their activities sustainably. MARSAD therefore works with all these entities. Networking and knowledge exchange is key in the MENA region, as most countries share similar challenges. To this end, MARSAD created new ways to exchange experiences and share good practices, to draw inspiration from each other in a horizontal and transversal environment.
MARSAD is in itself the continuation of a long-term project. It is the result of a strong will and demand for the exchange of good practice on cultural policies. The example of Morocco—with the experience of the “États Généraux de la Culture”—was the starting point of the project. But demand continues to grow, both within and beyond the MENA region. The platform aims to include more partners in order to become a reference in the Southern Mediterranean region in the future.
Fez, MoroccoHeritage for Creativity and DevelopmentAl-Quaraouyine Project
This one-week artist residency focuses on exploring the manifold development potential of the cultural heritage of the oldest existing, continually operating educational institution in the world, the Al-Quaraouyine University in Fez. It links contemporary means of artistic expression and academic research to enable a comprehensive reflection on the value of cultural heritage and its impact on the local community of Fez and beyond.
Al-Quaraouyine’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Value the local cultural heritage and challenge it with contemporary artistic expressions
2. Thematic area Heritage and contemporary art
3. Target group Artists and researchers from all over Morocco
4. Implementing and partner organisations Takafes in cooperation with Dar 7 Louyat and the French Institute of Fez
5. Geographical character local
6. Implementation period 2016
7. No funding
8. Total budget no funding
The most interesting effect of this artistic residence was the public attention that was paid to the artistic work that was presented to the wider public after the residencies. The art works were based on long-rooted heritage, especially on Al-Quaraouyine history, but used contemporary artistic means. People understood that today’s artists are fulfilling the same role as that historically undertaken by Al-Quaraouyine scholars when they too created new approaches to understanding local culture and international contexts.
The Why, What and How
Initially, photographers wanted to document famous philosophers, theologians and artists of Al-Quaraouyine University throughout the centuries in 10 minute video clips. When proposed to Takafes, the project perfectly fitted into Takafes’ vision: taking on the role of a mediator and establishing a laboratory for cultural heritage by using contemporary approaches.
The Al-Quaraouyine project aims to open up new intellectual horizons by gathering Moroccan artists to explore the impact of the ancient university Al-Quaraouyine on the city and community of Fez, Morocco and the world. By doing so, new links are made and new territories mapped.
The first two artists of the one-week-residency project in 2017 were the photographer M'hammed Kilito and the visual artist and performer Madiha Sebbani. As a starting point, Takafes provided information about the University and Fez’s cultural heritage and connected both artists with local artisans.
Madiha worked on the notion of women’s presence in the religious and intellectual space of the Mosque, which was originally founded by a woman.
M'hammed reflected on the process of transmission of knowledge among artisans and how this process affected the transition from traditional to modern education.
The Most Significant Change…
…cannot yet be precisely measured. However, raising long-lasting, local and international awareness about the significance of this oldest educational institution through a contemporary approach is the vision for the future. To sustain this vision, Takafes organizes an annual gathering to discuss current issues facing the international and local milieu, trying to find answers through authentic artistic expression and transparent intellectual research.
Further, Takafes hopes to engage intellectuals and artists in the process of reviving the symbolic space of the Medina, the old city of Fez and presenting it to a broader audience.
The project can inspire artists and researchers to reflect on culture heritage, integrate it into their current work and learn from their ancestors.
Moreover, it can empower cooperation and exchange between local artisans and artists about traditional, local and contemporary knowledge and artistic techniques.
On a political level, the project can draw the attention of political representatives and local organizations to the manifold development potential of the cultural heritage of the city of Fez, embodied in its centuries-old practices of diversity and its locally rooted culture.
RCF-Valletta 2018-Mobility Fund
Europe, North Africa, Middle EastEnabling Mobility in Challenging TimesRoberto Cimetta Fund⎯Valletta 2018 Mobility Funding Programme
The Roberto Cimetta Fund-Valletta 2018 Mobility Funding Programme is
the umbrella label for diverse mobility schemes available to artists and cultural operators. However, this project shows that by joining forces, support for regions in transformation can be temporarily intensified by providing specifically designed funding programmes. The mobility of funders and their ability to quickly launch new programmes matters, too!
Roberto Cimetta Fund⎯Valletta 2018 Mobility Funding Programme: 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Linking individual artists and cultural operators from the MENA region with the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) network
2. Thematic Area Artistic Mobility
3. Target group Individual artists and cultural operators living and working in Malta, Europe and in the MENA region
4. Implementing organization and cooperating partners Roberto Cimetta Fund (RCF), Valletta 2018 Foundation in cooperation with Global Grand Central
5. Geographical character Interregional in Europe, North Africa, Middle East
6. Implementation period 2015-2016
7. Funded by Valletta 2018 Foundation
8. Total budget EUR 22,000
Roberto Cimetta Fund⎯Valletta 2018 Mobility Funding Programme’s Story
“I remember a particular point related to the gradual rise in numbers of participants. On the one hand, you can be simply satisfied by the sheer growth in numbers and take that as a sign of success, which it is. However, there is a second point: the identification and confirmation of the need of artists and other creatives to travel, explore and engage with other like-minded people. It is worth stressing that these past years have posed very tough challenges for MENA-region artists, which this mobility programme helped address and overcome.”
Angie Cotte, Secretary General, RCF (2017)
The Why, What and How
The Roberto Cimetta Fund mobility fund has been active since 1999. The partnership with ECOCs started in 2012 in an attempt to link individual artists and cultural operators from the MENA region with the ECOC network, the sum of all past and future European Capitals of Culture. This joint venture makes use of the ECOCs’ capacity to harness cultural development in cities and peripheries of major economic hubs. It also harnesses the RCF’s approach, which as well as funding individual travel tickets, visas and insurance for artists and cultural operators who cannot find funding elsewhere, builds on artistic capacity through information sharing, helps to access new opportunities, and improves cooperation thanks to a multilateral mobility programme.
Grantees are selected via an open call twice a year. They are first evaluated by a committee of peers from the entire region, and the final selection is based on the peers’ recommendations, validated by the RCF Board. This methodology ensures impartiality and accountability to the donor.
In 2015, 2016 and 2017, 23 grantees received funding through the RCFValletta 2018 scheme, covering activities as diverse as music festivals, digital storytelling, residencies, dance ensembles and collaborations with other ECOCs.
Quote“Change is the result of all true learning!”
The Most Significant Change…
…is that such a mobility programme which responds to and respects the current needs of a specific region, recognises cultural diversity, balances the equal participation of all genders and motivates eco-friendly approaches, exists through cooperation between institutions and by creating synergies.
However, the future challenge is sustaining a supply structure when demands remain. This is one of the key legacy points that has been considered from various angles during years of collaboration.
The hope is that through other opportunities and contacts, new platforms will be discovered and established, which will continue to respect cultural rights through the notion of reciprocity, personal empowerment and fulfilment, and informal learning and unlearning.
This project can inspire more local authorities and funding institutions to partner with civil society actors to invest in on-demand mobility schemes. Cultural policy should be built around artistic mobility to link inter-local levels from the MENA region and all regions of the world in the spirit of equality.
North Africa Cultural Mobility Map
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, SpainThe Power of Shared Knowledge North Africa Cultural Mobility Map
NACMM-North Africa Cultural Mobility Map is a platform of residency and mobility initiatives for artists, writers and researchers interested in travelling and developing projects from and within North Africa. It showcases a unique constellation of organizations challenging mainstream confrontational views about the MENA region, by giving voice to cultural operators, researchers and curators while fostering hospitality and long-term cultural exchange.
North Africa Cultural Mobility Map’s Key Facts
1. Objective to promote a better understanding of the socio-cultural contexts of the region and strengthen artistic and research collaboration.
2. Thematic area cultural mobility, knowledge sharing
3. Target group local communities, regional and international artists, writers and researchers
4. Implementing and partner organisations CeRCCa in cooperation with Le18, Atelier de l’Observatoire, JISER Reflexions Mediterranies and El Madina
5. Geographical character interregional (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Spain)
6. Implementation period September 2016 – September 2017
7. Funded by Anna Lindh Foundation. OSIC, SGSAH and South Med CV
8. Total budget EUR 44,250
North Africa Cultural Mobility Map’s Story
In a time of widespread miscommunication, NACMM believes that it is an urgent task to build bridges between different cultures. The best way to do so is through knowledge sharing and mutual understanding.
The project has organically evolved as a platform generating collaborations and encounters, with several meetings organized in Barcelona, Algiers and Tunis.
NACMM promotes mobility, hospitality and cultural exchange through interdisciplinary collaborations and actions, with the aim of empowering organizations to develop creative projects and research on topics such as social inclusion, ecology, heritage and human rights.
Furthermore, through the network, new projects that empower inter-generational, inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue have been created. Platform HARAKAT and the KIBRIT Program are the best examples of that.
The Why, What and How
NACMM was born in 2014 through a collaboration between CeRCCa (Barcelona) and El Madina (Alexandria) thanks to the support of the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Dawrak programme. Both organizations were interested in the potential of Artist in Residency programmes (AiRs) to foster exchange and collaboration.
After preliminary research, they realized that there was little knowledge about the situation of the AiR sector in the region. In order to re-address this issue, to build bridges, and to interconnect and make visible the AiR sector in the MENA region, they created a cartography of initiatives that promote cultural mobility and exchange within and beyond North Africa.
In 2016, this collaboration expanded to include other partners and developed a more relational and systematic methodology. The support of the Anna Lindh Foundation as main funding body has allowed the full development of the map, enabling a stronger networking and communication strategy.
Today, the platform includes: a cartography of 70 AiR programmes operating in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, 45 video interviews to artists, curators, researchers and coordinators of AiR programmes in the MENA region, information about funding opportunities from more than 20 organizations and a database with 90 entries about networks, platforms and online magazines. NACMM has expanded far beyond the organizers’ expectations.
The Most Significant Change…
Often, cultural operators in the region and beyond used to work in isolation, with no obvious connection with other organizations in their own city or country. Partly adressing this lack of connexions, from its inception, the platform has been growing in conceptual and geographical scope evolving now through Platform HARAKAT.
Furthermore, NACMM is a tool to eradicate narrow-minded preconceptions of the MENA region as a whole. The constellation of spaces and resources gathered in the platform clearly shows that artists, writers, researchers and activists in the region and beyond have much more in common than one would expect, judging from often biased information in the mainstream media. The best example for these constant interactions and exchanges has been the different meetings NACMM has organized and the different projects that have been created through it.
This is particularly true of the NACMM meetings in Barcelona, Algiers and Tunis, where a combination of researchers, curators, artists and cultural operators from both sides of the Mediterranean united towards a common goal: to honour and empower the multitude of cultural initiatives that facilitate exchanges and inspire new ways of looking at inter-cultural dialogue.
Cyprus, EuropeCommon Sounds of the MediterraneanEthno Cyprus 2016
The music camp Ethno Cyprus 2016 enabled marginalized young people to experience music as a tool of cross- cultural dialogue. Young musicians from Arab and European countries collaborated on educational and social music projects to discover the common “sounds of the Mediterranean”. This project stands as a generic example of various musical exchange projects in the region. It highlights once more the power of music as universal language.
Ethno Cyprus 2016’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Discovering common cultural roots while supporting the creativity and mobility of young musicians
2. Thematic area music
3. Target group Young musicians from Arab and European countries who are otherwise marginalized from travelling, exploring and engaging with other like-minded people in an intercultural context, Arab and European NGOs
4. Implementing and partner organisations Euro-Arab Youth Music Center (EAYMC) in collaboration with JMI, the Arab Academy of Music, JM Croatia and JM Belgium, AGORA (Egypt), the National Music Conservatory (Jordan) and EPILOGI (Cyprus)
5. Geographical character Interregional (Europe, Middle East, North Africa)
6. Implementation period July 2016
7. Funded by Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture, ERASMUS+
8. Total budget EUR 28,000
Ethno Cyprus 2016’s Story
Observing the Arab-European relationship, this project has emerged to strengthen ties in the fields of culture and arts to tackle intolerance and xenophobia. But how can outdated stereotypes and prejudices be overcome in the contemporary context?
Ethno Cyprus 2016 offers one of many possible answers: by young musicians aged 15 to 30 discovering common grounds between their cultural identities. Arab and European traditional music formed bridges between the youngsters and encouraged them to build collaborations and friendships.
The music camp also embraced the idea that, back home, they will serve as ambassadors to foster discussions and to build mutual understanding across differences.
The Why, What and How
Based on the belief that music can serve as a tool of empowerment, the Euro-Arab Youth Music Center (EAYMC) first organized Ethno Cyprus in 2005. Applied to various European locations, it was transferred to the Arab region for the first time in 2012. Designed as a 10-day educational traditional music camp in Limassol, Ethno Cyprus 2016 gathered 32 young musicians from Arab and European countries.
Concluding with a joint concert, the camp applied diverse means of intercultural learning methodology such as workshops, team-work sessions, round-tables and visits to cultural sites and art venues. Hence, it allowed a non-formal exchange of knowledge, experiences and values—in an attempt to stimulate an active global cultural citizenship among young people.
Ethno Cyprus 2016 brought young musicians from the margins to the centre of Arab-European multiculturalism. As a result, they improved their self-awareness and became more open to collaborations with people from other cultural backgrounds. On a personal level, the cross-cultural dialogue gave support in standing up to discrimination, intolerance, xenophobia and racism. Since these processes were guided by five organizations from Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, these institutions were also able to benefit from improved managerial skills.
Quote“In many years from now I will neither remember your faces, nor your names, but I will always remember the songs we played together.”
Young violin player from Jordan
The Most Significant Change…
…was delivered within the group of the young musicians who impressively turned previous uncertainty into curiosity towards new challenges—thanks to developing skills that proved to be beneficial in intercultural contexts. Improved knowledge about cultural traditions of Arab and European societies improved their confidence and helped them to develop intercultural skills—particularly language skills, since all activities were conducted in English.
Further, the camp gave them the ability to recognize the inter-ethnic dimensions of their own traditional cultures and arts and to reflect on their peers, education, habits, interests, tastes and history in such a way as to promote intercultural awareness.
Hence, the project creates a solid basis that allows active cultural global citizenship to flourish.
In the spirit of cross-culture dialogue, the youth-focused initiative responds to the need for a change of paradigms within Arab-European relations after 2011. The concept of challenging the perception of insurmountable social differences by finding a common ground to foster valuable exchange via non-educational methods is valuable for various different regions and target groups—since the common grounds are manifold.
Algiers, AlgeriaYoung Cultural Innovators at WorkTrans-Cultural Dialogues (TCD)
TCD is a platform of young change- makers that aims to provide a critical reflection on social issues, through cultural participation in the Euro-Mediterranean region. From 2012 to 2016, the TCD team co-created various activities ranging from festivals and workshops to research projects using multimedia, art and architectural interventions in public spaces. At the heart of the platform lies the experience of interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration.
Trans-Cultural Dialogues’ 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Connecting young professionals to provide positive cultural and social change
2. Thematic area intercultural collaboration, multimedia art festival, public space
3. Target group international and local culture professionals, students and cultural operators, as well as local communities
4. Implementing and partner organisations JISER Reflexions Mediterrànies, Barcelona, Spain in cooperation with Association SAYKA, Oran, Algeria; Association Chrysalide, Algiers, Algeria; Civil Association ARTIKAL, Belgrade, Serbia
5. Geographical character local and interregional, Algiers, Algeria and the Mediterranean region
6. Implementation period 2012–2016
7. Funded by a mix of public and private sources, such as the Goethe-Institut network, Arts Collaboratory, Anna Lindh Foundation, SouthMed CV, City of Algiers, Air Algeria, among others
8. Total budget
DJART’14 Festival = EUR 54,650
El Medreb project = EUR 41,516
Trans-Cultural Dialogues’ Story
TCD is the project of a project: it was incubated by the Cultural Innovators Network (CIN) which is a communal project, initiated by more than 20 Goethe-Institutes in the Mediterranean region in 2011–2012 in the context of the German-Arab Transformation Partnership. Its participants are seen as seismographs of developments in societies, as motors and incubators of transformation.
Through participatory practices and a horizontal organisational approach, CIN bridges people and ideas, provides an open space for co-working, co-creating and mutual interregional learning. Thus, TCD is itself part of a large transformation project and also provides local responses conceived by the next generation of cultural stakeholders.
The Why, What and How
The TCD platform was born during the CIN Forum in Istanbul in 2012 that aimed at supporting civil society initiatives and youth involvement in the Euro-MENA region. TCD supports the idea that art can address specific social issues and, consequentially, develop critical, alternative and creative approaches for social change. TCD recognises that, in the context of upheavals following the Arab Spring, the development of art nurtures the mobility and cooperation of cultural professionals in the region.
The TCD team from Algeria, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Serbia, Germany and Macedonia worked independently, in a self-organized and non-hierarchical manner, with the goal of creating something new together. The DJART’14 festival for multimedia art in public space was an important TCD project. The festival took place in autumn 2014 in Algiers, featuring street art, invisible theatre, workshops, discussions, alternative touristic tours and architectural interventions in public spaces.
Another milestone for TCD was El Medreb in 2016: a research project dedicated to abandoned buildings in the El Hamma neighbourhood of Algiers. It included theoretical and practical research such as urban visits, historical graffiti interventions, discussions and parkour activities.
Quote“These places that were full of life, full of sounds and movements, are now silent and quiet, but no less hypnotising.”Artist, working on abandoned buildings during El Medreb
The Most Significant Change…
…is the fact that young people work independently and successfully together and consequently grow professionally: they become more interculturally competent and gain experience as independent activists. Working in a non-hierarchical team, with a do-it-yourself ideal, also brought positive changes.
TCD as a project also brought visibility to street art(ists) in Algiers, strengthened the independent local art scene, sparked new discussions and addressed public policy in Algiers through the means of art.
TCD provided networking opportunities around the Mediterranean and help finding financial support.
This successful, colourful innovative, and its sometimes daring approach can inspire similar initiatives in Algiers, Algeria, the whole region, or simply wherever motivated young people try to shape an independent, creative and innovative response to the transformation of their societies and what surrounds them.
Arab Region and EuropeBridging the “Wine-Dark Sea” (Homer)TANDEM Shaml⎯Cultural Collaboration Programme
Tandem Shaml engages cultural managers with critical challenges:
It connects new Arab initiatives
with European partners through artistic actions to bring creative energy and fresh perspectives to local challenges. Each year, a cohort of up to 24 participants forms 12 Arab-European Tandem pairs, who organise job-shadowing placements in each others’ organisations, develop a joint pilot project, and thereby create a common space for mutual learning.
Tandem Shaml’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Generate, intensify and consolidate tangible and meaningful collaboration links between emerging creative professionals from the Arab Region and pioneering cultural initiatives from Europe
2. Thematic area transnational cultural collaboration, civil society development, arts and community engagement
3. Target group cultural managers and their initiatives/organisations
4. Implementing organization and cooperating partners European Cultural Foundation (ECF) (Amsterdam); MitOst (Berlin); Al Mawred Al ThaqafyCulture Resource (Beirut)
5. Geographical character Arab Region & Europe (EU and neighbouring Council of Europe countries)
6. Implementation period 2012–ongoing
7. Funded by European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam), Robert Bosch Stiftung (Stuttgart), Stichting DOEN (Amsterdam), Mimeta (Norway), British Council (Cairo)
8. Total budget ca. EUR 1.4 million (2012-2017)
Tandem Shaml's StoryTasja Langenbach, Videonale e.V., Bonn, Germany
“I realised that my own horizon widened hugely during the Tandem Shaml year and gave me some of the most memorable experiences of my working and personal cultural life. Until now, Videonale has mostly ‘exported’ its artistic productions without really cooperating on the content level with its partners abroad. In the context of Tandem Shaml, we developed a project from scratch together with a partner from a different cultural context and in a long-distance relationship for the first time. Not only for me but also for my colleagues, this opened up a window to further think about international collaborations. The results by far exceeded my expectations in terms of the intercultural learning process, but also the learning with regard to intercultural project management and organisational evaluations.”
The Why, What and How
Tandem Shaml is part of a family of Tandem programmes, which connect cultural initiatives from inside and outside the EU. In Tandem, art is a route to development for individuals, organisations and communities who form new and equitable partnerships across borders.
Tandem Shaml was co-designed in close collaboration between the ECF, MitOst and Al Mawred Al Thaqafi: organisations with long experience and complementary resources in culture and civil society. The programme works with artistic action because it provides a relatively safe space for community engagement on difficult issues.
Tandem Shaml is structured around “editions”, each of which lasts for one year and involves 10 to 12 new partnerships. Each edition begins with a gathering of 30 potential participants, during which they identify partners, match and develop collaboration ideas as pairs. The best are selected to form a new Tandem cohort, meeting at least three times to learn from one another and access mentored peer-to-peer training. Each pair spends at least two weeks in their partner’s country and organisation, experiencing their different realities at first hand. All Tandems create a work, exhibition, festival, film, production, development plan for public presentation which reflects their shared culture and input.
Its focus on learning-by-doing, open-ended processes, experimentation and peer-to-peer engagement on truly equal footing distinguishes Tandem from other Euro-Arab cultural manager exchanges.
Quote“Tandem Shaml is about mutuality, friendship, resonance, agreeing to disagree and a place to grow together.” Tandem Shaml participant of the Casablanca Interim Meeting 2016
Most Significant Change
Tandem Shaml is a far-reaching programme with actions rooted in places as different as Stockholm and Casablanca, undertaken by people with equally varied cultures and creative ideas.
Individuals gain skills, contacts and knowledge, experiment with different ways of working, and experience other realities in a way that gives them new confidence, and takes them to a new level in their working practice.
Organisations learn new ideas, processes and methods, gain access to resources and networks, and situate their own work better within a field of practice, becoming stronger and more effective.
Participants engage creatively in contemporary culture or in their own heritage, and are empowered by learning how their culture is both an asset and a means to reflect on life’s challenges.
Audiences are exposed to alternative voices and forms of art, gaining enjoyment and insight from new experiences, while the legitimacy of culture as a space for democratic exchange and expression is underlined.
Civil society and local government see the value of cultural action in community development and in responding to local concerns.
Due to the experimental character of Tandem Shaml, not every collaboration delivers immediate outcomes. The programme’s vibrant alumni network nevertheless shows that Tandem Shaml plants strong seeds and passes on the knowledge needed to nurture them in the context of Arab-European cultural relations.
Amman, JordanIntersection—Performing Arts for Cross-Cultural UnderstandingNational Centre for Culture and Arts (NCCA)
With the interactive street theatre project “Intersection”, the National Centre for Culture and Arts (NCCA) encourages understanding and interaction between Syrian refugees
and local communities in Jordan and beyond. The interactive play sheds light on critical issues and challenges. In particular, it raises awareness of the stories of Syrian refugees who have been forced to leave their country.
Intersection’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Promote social development, cross-cultural understanding and creativity through the medium of the performing arts
2. Thematic area interactive and street theatre, migration and social integration
3. Target group Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities
4. Implementing and partner organisations National Centre for Culture and Arts (NCCA) by the King Hussein Foundation and Minority Rights Group International, in partnership with the Civic Forum Institute and the Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-violence Studies
5. Geographical character local
6. Implementation period since 2015
7. Funded by the European Union as part of the Drama, Diversity and Development programme (DDD)
8. Total budget EUR 58,644
Intersection's StoryMuhannad Al Nawafleh, Facilitator
“As a facilitator for the interactive play ‘Intersection’ I recognised the desire of both Syrian refugees and host communities to reach their common goal of supporting each other during these critical times. It was encouraging to see everyone expressing his or her opinions freely and respectfully. I was overwhelmed by the Syrian audience members who repeatedly expressed to me how they were deeply touched by the play because it managed to capture their plight so poignantly.”
The Why, What and How
The National Centre for Culture & Arts (NCCA), in cooperation with local NGOs working with Syrian refugees, conducted a survey and compiled information related to key challenges faced by Syrian refugees and local host communities in Jordan.
Based on the findings and on real stories collected from Syrian refugees, the interactive play “Intersection” was produced in 2015. The play was part of a regional street theatre project “Engaging Communities towards Social Cohesion” funded by the European Union within the framework of the Drama, Diversity and Development programme (DDD).
The team of actors of the NCCA National Interactive Theatre Troupe devised a comprehensive script. A section involving audience interaction was also designed. The aim was to create a balanced viewpoint of the relationship between Syrian and Jordanian communities, of their different challenges and needs, as well as to promote understanding and interaction. The performance revolves around a filmmaker who interviews Syrian and Jordanian actors to create a film about life in Jordan. During their audition the audience learns about the difficulties and challenges faced by Syrian refugees.
Through the interaction between the performers during various scenes, the play sheds light on specific areas of conflict and how they are resolved to achieve social cohesion.
Quote“The borders scene exactly depicts what happened to me and my sister. I’m impressed by the play because it brings our experience and our plight to the host communities so they can better understand what we went through.” Said Maha (23) from the Damascus suburbs
Quote“The play made me realize that what happened to Syrians having to leave their countries because of war might also happen to me, so I would want to be treated well.”Rabee Shrouf (25), from Jordan
The Most Significant Change…
…is that “Intersection” succeeded in raising questions about how best to deal with the growing challenges faced by refugees and host communities in Jordan. Results based on interviews and questionnaires indicated a more informed community and showed how the attitude and behaviour of the target audience had changed.
The interactive play sheds light on issues such as coexistence and social integration and promotes understanding and interaction between Syrian refugees and local communities. A majority of the audiences identified with the scenes of the play, with the Jordanian audience expressing empathy and a deeper understanding of challenges facing Syrian refugees, while the play proved more emotional for Syrians, because it portrayed real-life situations faced by them during their journey and while living in Jordan.
“Intersection” was performed in 20 locations in Jordan, where a large number of Syrian families are residing within the Jordanian community, and it was also performed abroad, for example at the International Street Theatre Festival (ISTF) in Halmstad, Sweden and at Burj Al Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon. Based on the success and impact of the project, NCCA was given an additional grant to produce “The Journey of Jasmine”, an interactive play featuring young Syrian refugees.
MoroccoCreativity for Social ImpactMadNess Space
MadNess is a space for young professionals for cooperation, experimentation, education and advocacy in the field of creative industries in Morocco. Believing that innovation and creativity slumbers in each of us and that culture and creative industries have a major impact on positive change in our societies, MadNess advocates for a creative, accessible, equitable
and inclusive economy and society.
MadNess’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objective Empowerment of young cultural professionals and entrepreneurs; cooperation, experimentation, education and advocacy in the field of culture and creative industries
2. Thematic area Creative industries, culture and art, entrepreneurship and network development
3. Target group Young creative entrepreneurs and artists, students and graduates of design and art education
4. Implementing and partner organisations varying
5. Geographical character local, Morocco
6. Implementation period since 2017
7. not funded
8. Total budget: no budget
MadNess is a young and inspiring practice and one of the rare independent projects in Morocco investing and working in the field of creative industries, working to establish a sustainable ecosystem for this sector:
“We believe that this region is full of potential, full of youth and full of grey matter and that it's all of added value.”
The Why, What and How
MadNess aims at building a space for creativity and collaboration in the field of creative industries, art and culture in Morocco, especially to empower young artists, designers and cultural entrepreneurs at the early stage of their careers.
Through MadNess, the initiators want to sustain existing activities and loose networks in Morocco. MadNess is a space for experimentation, education, promotion and advocacy as well as an incubator for new projects in the field of creative industries.
To date, physical and virtual hubs have been created for encounter and cooperation. In labs for experimentation, education and hacking, the impact of big data and creativity on social matters and research are explored. More traditional formats such as education workshops and masterclasses are also organized in the ‘MadNess space’.
Finally, in conferences and targeted actions, such as advocacy, networking and lobbying activities, innovative processes, solutions and new policies and laws related to the creative industries are brought forward.
MadNess wants to be an initiator, contributor and active facilitator for the sustainable establishment and revitalization of hubs and creative clusters in Morocco.
Quote“Aristotle said: ‘no great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.’ That's why at MadNess we believe that behind all madness or difference, there is an adventure to explore, a story to tell, a story to listen to, an experience to live and especially a man or woman to discover.”Website MadNess
The Most Significant Change…
…“is that the prototype we are building is working. We believe that we can stimulate an ecosystem and we see it happening in our space. We have found that a lot of companies and the ‘economic ecosystem’ are now aware of the value of creativity and are starting to partner with us and send us requests for projects.”
MadNess is more than just a project: MadNess explores new methodologies and processes and is an incubator for innovative projects and programmes in the field of creative industries that also aims to be an inspiration for others. Therefore, all tools and ideas as well as actions and programmes are freely accessible on the MadNess website.
So far, the space works with almost no budget and a limited capacity to host full time entrepreneurs. However, only half a year on, the space already holds more than 50 activities, reaching more than 1500 people.
MadNess intends to grow and is reaching out to the private sector and international organizations for more sustainable funding.
Kélibia, TunisiaYoung Perspectives: Amateur Filmmaking International Festival of Amateur Film of Kélibia (FIFAK)
The Tunisian Federation of Amateur Filmmakers has been active since 1962. Its flagship activity is the International Festival of Amateur Film of Kélibia (FIFAK), the oldest self-organised festival in Africa. The 2016 edition curated 75 films by young amateurs from 30 countries from around the globe. 2000 young participants see and discuss films. A jury awards the “Golden Falcon”.
FIFAK’s 10 Key Facts
1. Objectives Encourage young amateurs to master filmmaking, choose subjects of their interest, perform, excel, innovate and share experiences. Facilitate the promotion and dissemination of works of amateur film. Offer fresh perspectives from within Arab/African societies. Create a proto-democratic space for critical debate of films and contents. Connect internationally and offer transnational perspectives.
2. Thematic area African amateur film, encouraging and mentoring young creators and producers from the age of 12 onwards
3. Target group teenagers and young adults, amateur filmmakers and members of the public passionate about film, film schools and industry, public television services, audio-visual archives
4. Implementing and partner organisations Tunisian Association for Amateur Films (FTCA); Partners: Tunisian Ministry of Culture, the National Centre for Cinema and Image, the Kélibia Municipality; periodically also (European) cultural institutes based in Tunisia
5. Geographical character local (chapters of the FTCA country-wide), national and international with a focus on South-South exchange
6. Implementation period since 1964, annually
7. Implementing organisation and cooperating partners The festival is organised by volunteers, while the work of the jury is funded by FTCA membership fees and domestic sponsorship, some support by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture and the Kélibia Municipality, and occasionally partnerships with (European) cultural institutes and foundations based in Tunisia
8. Total budget varies annually, depending on the programming format of FIFAK
Launched in 1964 and active ever since, the International Festival of Amateur Film of Kélibia (FIFAK) presents young amateur films from Tunisia and from around the world. It is the oldest self-organised amateur film festival in Africa. Its backbone is FTCA’s day-to-day work in 20 local chapters across Tunisia.
FIFAK takes place annually, reaching around 2000 mostly young participants. The festival creates a space of vibrant debate about film and topical societal issues from the perspective of young filmmakers and citizens.
FIFAK connects with Tunisian NGOs working towards democratization and decentralization of culture and accessible cinema.
The Why, What and How
FTCA was created at a time when not a single feature film had yet been created and produced in Tunisia, and 30 years before a professional film school existed. It established clubs around the country, where children from 12 years onwards as well as young adults meet every week and practise all dimensions of film story-telling and producing.
Since 2011, the membership has quadrupled. FTCA members are now producing, 50 years since the association was founded, about 20 films a year. FTCA preserves almost 1000 films (16mm, super 8 and video) under precarious conditions—some of these films are by young directors who would later become famous Tunisian filmmakers.
Since 1964, FTCA has organised FIFAK, which presents amateur films from 30 countries around the world annually. The 32nd edition of FIFAK (12 – 19 August, 2017) offered a rich programme of film screenings, round-table discussions, workshops and a jury selecting national and international amateur films for the FIFAK “Golden Falcon” awards.
Key goals of FTCA and FIFAK are the popularization of cinematographic techniques, critical thinking and the preservation of audio-visual heritage.
The festival is attended annually by around 2000, mostly young, participants, aged between 15 and 25.
Quote“For a popular, committed and accessible cinema”
Most Significant Change
FTCA and FIFAK have managed over several generations and in adverse circumstances to create innovative learning spaces on a daily basis in society and offer an annual meeting point designed to open horizons through international films and debates.
Within Tunisia, it is one of the oldest civil society organisations. The 20 clubs (2017) are present in all parts of the country, reaching out beyond the capital and coastal region. Since the creation of a professional film school in Tunisia, works by film students have also been included in FIFAK programming.
As the first amateur film festival in Africa, FIFAK has an excellent reputation for cultural cinematography and for promoting talented young people and filmmakers in the region. Many of today’s famous Tunisian filmmakers made their debut at the festival, and keep coming back to foster the talent of the next generations. The festival has thus succeeded in empowering young filmmakers and sustainably building a next generation of cineastes in Tunisia. With over 50 years of successful mobilization, it contributes to the democratization and decentralization of culture in Tunisia and makes Tunisian cinema more accessible and popular in Africa.
FIFAK is an inspiring example for a successful and sustainable international festival in the MENA region, creating a proto-democratic space for critical debate of films and their messages.
Visa for Music
Rabat, MoroccoBringing Artists and Music Professionals Together Visa For Music – Africa and Middle East Music Meeting, Morocco, North Africa
Visa For Music is the first professional market event and festival for the music of Africa and the Middle East. It was conceived in 2014 and 2018 marks its fifth year, featuring approximately 50 showcases, conferences, speed-meetings, workshops and training events. Visa For Music has become the essential international music market for the countries of the South. This large-scale event brings together talent, know-how and intuition.
Visa for Music's 10 Key Facts
1. Objectives Promoting music from
Morocco, Africa and the Middle East and encouraging artistic mobility
between countries to contribute to the development of local cultural
2. Thematic area Music
3. Target group Artists and groups from Africa and the MENA region, like-minded organizations, media companies, foundations, international institutions and other players of the civil society.
4. Implementing and partner organisations Visa for Music together with Fondation Hiba
5. Geographical character Interregional: Middle-East and Africa
6. Implementation period since 2014, every November
7. Implementing organisation and cooperating partners Sponsored by OCP, Royal Air Maroc, Afac, Culture ressources, SACEM, Institut français, German Commission for UNESCO
8. Total budget EUR 380,000
Visa for Musics Story
The event builds bridges by
mixing creativity, imagination, people, images and sounds: coming together to
enrich each other with the desire to boost the cultural vocation of the
There is an atmosphere of innovation, with an educational focus and lively debates, all fuelled by a dual wish to create new opportunities for contemporary music and world music and to regenerate the idea of cultural diversity.
The Why, What and How
Visa For Music is the first professional market event and festival for the
music of Africa and the Middle East. It was conceived in 2014 and 2018 marks
its fifth year, featuring approximately 50 showcases, conferences,
speed-meetings, workshops and training events.
The festival was conceived
out of a paradox: the lack of visibility for African and Middle Eastern artists
at an international level on the one hand, and the highly important artistic
dynamism and musical creativity of these musicians on the other. To tackle this
problem, Visa For Music aims to highlight the artistic creativity of Africa and
the Middle East, first of all regarding world music and contemporary music.
The six main goals of Visa For Music are:
1. Promote music from Morocco, Africa and the Middle East to European and northern markets 2. Encourage artistic mobility between African countries and the Middle East
3. Participate in the development of the local cultural sector in these areas
4. Develop the music scene at an internatoinal level
5. Contribute to the improvement of the status of artists from countries in the South
6. Strengthen North-South and South-South relationships in the cultural sector
After four editions, Visa For Music has become one of the largest and most essential meeting places for professionals from across the music industry as a whole, as a sharing platform for the defence and promotion of the musical sector in African and Middle-Eastern countries, with approximately 3200 professionals attending 185 showcases involving 1093 artists. As a result, over the four editions, more than 1000 artists, approximately 6000 professionals and 85 countries have been represented, with 300 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors having participated in or attended almost 100 concerts, 150 showcases, 20 training events and workshops and 2500 meetings and speed-meetings.
Quote“For me, this was the fourth year that I have attended of the festival. From my first time I felt that Visa for Music is a very special event and this feeling has only grown. For me, it’s the place to be to promote myself as an artist, and to meet other musicians, who move at the crossroads of African, Amazigh, and Arabic music. This year, I invited guitarist/producer Joep Pelt from Amsterdam and I got the chance to be on stage with the group Tarwa n ‘Tniri from Ouarzazate, with whom I had a successful exchange in the south of Morocco. Visa for Music has made this possible, and as a result we are also strongly motivated to go on. To be continued.” Samira Danaan
The Most Significant Change ...
… is that Visa For Music has become, especially for the targeted regions, the atypical and not-to-miss international market event for world music and an inter-professional space for music in Morocco for the countries of the South. Visa for Music filled a vacuum, giving a voice and a platform to a vibrant music sector in the region and beyond. The inspirational effect is a measure of the success of the festival, which might encourage other regions and sectors to organise and cooperate.
Open Art Week
Tunis, Tunisia and Perugia, ItalyAn International Platform for Independent Artists & Art SpacesWAO-Open Art Week, Europe, North Africa
Open Art Week is a multidisciplinary event showcasing the independent culture scene. Initiated and organized by REA in partnership with L’Art Vivant, two independent non-profit organisations. In 2018 Open Art Week took place in two cities, Perugia (Italy) and Tunis (Tunisia), with the participation of 30 independent arts spaces which hosted over 50 artists and delivered a programme featuring more than 40 different artistic events and activities.
Open Art Week's 10 Key Facts
1. Objectives Showcasing the independent culture scene
2. Thematic area Contemporary art
3. Target group independent arts spaces (such as theatres, cinemas, visual art centres, public spaces, libraries and virtual cultural places...)
4. Implementing and partner organisations Italian non-profit organisation REA, in cooperation with Tunisian association L'Art Vivant and 30 independent art spaces in Tunisia and Italy
5. Geographical character Interregional in Europe and North Africa
6. Implementation period December 2017 to December 2018 (pilot phase of planned three further editions)
7. Implementing organisation and cooperating partners Supported by public partners such as the embassies of Italy and Tunisia, the Italian Culture Institute in Tunisia, The Region of Umbria and the municipality of Perugia (Italy), private sponsors such as D&B consulting and Tunisair (see full list of partners here)
8. Total budget EUR 70,000 (including in-kind contributions from all participating partners)
Open Art Week's Story
The idea and concept of WAO-Open Art Week were devised
by the founding director of REA, Gaia Toschi, following several formal and
informal interviews conducted throughout 2017 with funders, managers and staff
of international independent art spaces. Gaia then shared and discussed the
idea further with Moez Mrabet, co-director of L’Art Vivant in Tunis, who
promptly joined the project.
Against this backdrop, REA and L’Art Vivant got in
contact through this exchange between their respective founding directors: Gaia
Toschi, based in Tunisia since 2012, and Moez Mrabet who, on a voluntary basis
and without any initial financial support, decided to collaborate to launch an
introductory joint pilot phase of WAO-Open Art Week in order to test the
concept and to progressively attract international institutional, private and
civil interest. The first edition of WAO-Open Art Week has been conceived as an
initial investment to support a long-term vision of promoting the independent
The common interest of REA and L’ART VIVANT in collaborating relies on:
1. the shared acknowledgment of the key role played by the independent art spaces in the cultural sector and the urgent need to find sustainable strategies to support the promotion and visibility of independent artists and cultural industries both at local and international level
2. the interest in establishing a direct, effective and sustainable exchange of good artistic practices and productions between Italy and Tunisia (and new future international partners) based on the principle of reciprocity
3. the need to sensitize and expose a large public to alternative narratives on participating countries, thanks to their artistic contemporary scene and actors
The incentives to join the project for the artists has been a real opportunity to present their work to a new, international public, to establish new professional networks resulting new economic and artistic opportunities, and to foster new artistic collaborations, all while discovering a new country. For participating independent art spaces the benefit is to be able to access and propose a high quality and an international cultural offer and therefore attract new visitors/public.
The Why, What and How
The project idea follows
the observation of profound changes taking place in the production, circulation
and public relations of contemporary art in the Mediterranean. These are, in
particular, the emergence of independent spaces as alternatives to public
institutions and private galleries and, with them, the emergence of a new
cultural sector: the independent one. This increasingly large, highly heterogeneous
and often fragmented sector, however, suffers from a lack of resources, opportunities
for exchange and international visibility.
In response to these
challenges, REA proposed to L’Art Vivant the launch of an international
platform of independent spaces involving Tunisia as a partner for its first
The project methodology
is based on three main areas of intervention:
1. the mapping of the participating independent spaces;
2. the exchange of artists and managers;
3. the co-organisation of an art week, travelling within the participating countries.
The intended results are not only the organisation of WAO-Open Art Week”, the common event / exhibition itself touring in both of the participating cities, but also the creation of an informal, flexible international network of independent creative industries and artists, which is able to optimise and highlight existing structures and human and economic resources.
Most Significant Change...
…has yet to be distilled
as the pilot phase has just finished (on 21/10/2018). Nevertheless the outputs
of the project recorded to date include:
1. mobility of 52 Italian and Tunisian artists.
2. exchange of best practise and more than 30 artistic productions throught the collaboration of 30 independent art spaces
3. more than 17.000 persons reached through the press and social media campaign and actual visits to the events promoted by WAO in Italy and Tunisia
4. creation of at least 15 new international collaborations between artists, festivals and art spaces in both countries
5. 4 new requests to date to include new international partners and decentralize WAO in both of the participating countries.
More detailed information on the outcomes of the first edition of WAO will be available in December 2018, following the conclusion of its first internal evaluation.
German Commission for UNESCO Colmantstraße 15
53115 Bonn, Germany
in cooperation with
European Cultural Foundation
Ettijahat – Independent Culture
Christine M. Merkel (responsible)
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