Tunisia/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Cultural cooperation projects and programs in Tunisian cultural policy can be categorized according to cooperation frameworks, bilateral or multilateral. The ministry supervises the execution of these programs with diversification of partners and beneficiaries. Regional delegations for culture, specialized administrations and public cultural organizations, and beneficiary or executing associations play a key role in the execution process.

Within the framework of bilateral cooperation, executive programs are prepared by the joint committees with concerned countries in the axis of cultural cooperation and based on the framework of bilateral cooperation associated with culture, education, youth and scientific research. The executive program for cultural cooperation is adopted by a Decree and is generally executed over a three year period. Most  of the executive programs include several cultural fields (music, dance, visual arts, cinema, translation, books...) ; mechanisms for cultural exchange (exchange of artists, artistic residencies, training, research and studies); heritage; literary and artistic property rights; the implementation of cooperation agreements between similar national cultural institutions (e.g. the national library, the National Heritage Institute); promotion of subjects with common interest in culture sector such as the development of cultural industries, strengthening the implementation of common international conventions e.g. UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005).

During years 2011, 2012 and 2013 the following executive programs were adopted: China (2010-2013), the Sultanate of Oman (executive program for the restoration and maintenance of monuments), Morocco (2012-2014), Qatar (the restoration of archaeological sites and historical monuments, development and rehabilitation), and Turkey (2012-2014), Libya (a cultural cooperation agreement).

The most important national and international events that are supported through bilateral cultural cooperation are: Carthage International Festival-Hammamet International Festival – Carthage Film Festival – Carthage Theater Festival– International TunisiaBook Fair - Book exhibitions abroad-cultural weeks abroad – seminars, forums and cultural festivals abroad. The following figures highlight the number of theatre groups funded by the Ministry of Culture to participate in international festivals: 7 in 2002, 14 in 2003, 20 in 2007, 52 in 2010, 9 in 2011 and 2012 up to 27[1].

Multilateral cooperation can be divided to cooperation with regional organizations and cooperation with international organizations.  The cooperation mechanism varies in terms of the funded program or project which can be either in a bilateral cooperation with the international structure (i.e. a special program for Tunisia) or  in a regional/international program that comprises several countries at the same time among them Tunisia.

At the regional level, Tunisia participates in regional programs provided by the European Union[2] for southern Mediterranean countries or specifically for Maghreb countries. Tunisia participated in the programs of Euromed Audiovisual, Euromed Youth and Euromed Heritage. In addition, the EU has intensified its culture sector related programs in Tunisia since the beginning of the democratic transition period in 2011. For example, the elaboration of a study on linking culture and heritage to local development in interior regions; a capacity building project for civil society in Tunisia including culture sector associations; and financing activities to promote human rights, including cultural rights (example: Human rights Cinema event) directly with cultural associations.

Moreover, Tunisia participates in regional seminars organized by ALECSO, ISESCO. The Ministry cooperates with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the promotion of literary and artistic property rights especially through the implementation of a bilateral executive program, to be renewed in 2014. The program seeks to increase capacity building for the Tunisian Organization for the protection of the Authors’ Rights and the elaboration of seminars to publicize the role of literary and artistic rights in developing artistic areas, amongst them the music industry. At a horizontal level, WIPO will support the creation of a training center for Intellectual property in Tunisia, and copyright will be also included[3].

The Ministry of Culture cooperates with UNESCO in several programs and projects, through the coordination of the National Commission for education, science and culture. The framework of cooperation consists of implementing UNESCO’s conventions (Heritage and Cultural diversity and Diversity of cultural expressions). For example studies for registered monuments in World Heritage List (Carthage site -Bardo Museum); Funding projects and studies in the axis of Culture and development and Diversity of cultural expressions (Tunisian book Internet site project – multilingual library project)[4]. Tunisia is currently supporting the efforts of UNESCO to integrate Culture into the Millennium Development Goals in post-2015 agenda at the United Nations[5]. Tunisia is also a member in the project WorldCP[6] led by IFACCA, which aims to the elaboration of an international database on cultural policies.

The World Bank has financed through a loan and with contribution of Tunisia the project of "cultural heritage"[7]to promote cultural tourism (2001-2007). In addition, OIF has financed the project of "Cultural Industries Guarantee Funds"[8]which is a new bank credit mechanism expected to facilitate the access for private companies in cultural industries to bank loans.

[1] Report of Ministry of culture on the occasion of the 50th commemoration of the Republic declaration; and Ministry of culture annual report of 2012

[2]Economic and political relations between European Union and Tunisia ( European commission in Tunis : http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/tunisia/eu_tunisia/political_relations/index_fr.htm )

[5]Document of Culture as a Goal in the post-2015 Development Agenda at :http://media.ifacca.org/files/cultureasgoalweb.pdf

[8]Overview of “ Credit Insurance Funds for Cultural industries in African Countries” (French) at : http://www.espace-economique.francophonie.org/LES-FONDS-DE-GARANTIE.html

Chapter published: 05-05-2015