Tunisia/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.1 Cultural infrastructure: tendencies & strategies

The current Tunisian cultural infrastructure is just a continuum of the policy established since the independence with only the a difference in mechanisms and names that were adopted later for the institutions, and sometimes the institutions get dissolved then re-established in  a different way ( for example: The Tunisian company for cinematographic production and expansion was dissolved and then years later a joint project with private sector was developed to re-establish laboratories in the same enterprise under a different name). It must be noted that most public cultural institutions had no clear legal and administrative framework and the situation was remedied only in 2011 by the adoption of a law classifying and identifying "public institutions for cultural activities ".

The period from 1957 to 1987 can described as the institutional building period for the cultural sector. In the first years after independence the following public institutions were created to support cultural production:

-Tunisian company for cinematographic production and expansion (1957)

-National Institute of archaeology and Arts (1957)

- Tunisian Publishing House (1966)

- Tunisian Association of authors and composers (1968)

-The Tunisian House for Distribution (1969)


When the concept of regional development emerged during the quadrennial plan (1965-1968), the Commission "culture and human advancement" was created and introduced the cultural decentralization trend and it was based on the principle stating that “…culture must be free, and for free…” and the development of a mechanism for the promotion of cultural rights.  Accordingly, on these bases the following were created:

-Regional and local cultural committees

-Houses of culture (and People’s Houses funded by local communities)

-Public museums

-Public libraries


The same trend has remained the same as it was until now with the dissolution of all previous public companies and the creation of the Agency for the development of national heritage and promotion and cultural promotion and the emergence of several specialized institutions in some areas, including: regional institutes of music, dramatic arts centers, city of culture, the National Center for cinema and the image, the National Center for the art of puppetry. Most of the infrastructure remains on the basis of Houses of Culture and Public libraries, with the adoption of the prevailing principle of "culture for all". It must be noted that the media sector was at the beginning overseen by the Ministry of Culture and is currently no longer in its attributions since the 1980s. By 2013, the Ministry of Culture began the gradual implementation of cultural decentralization through improving the attributions regional delegations for and their support by what is known as: the Advisory Committee on culture, which has a varied composition that includes representatives from local civil society and intellectuals.

Concerning festivals and cultural events, committees are created during the preparation and the administration of the festivals and fairs which are under direct supervision from the ministry, whereas for regional/local festivals either associations or local committees are created.

When it comes to heritage, the National Heritage Institute participates in heritage preservation and the Agency for the Development of National Heritage and Cultural Promotion contributes to heritage promotion. In addition, there is a network of specialized associations in heritage called “the Medina safeguard associations” that contribute to both missions of heritage preservation and promotion in regions. They receive direct finance from the Ministry through heritage structures – the institute and the agency- and they participate in implementing heritage activities and projects including international ones.    

The following sections show essential detailed data about the public institutions in the culture sector in Tunisia.

Chapter published: 05-05-2015