Tunisia/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation  

8.2.1 Trends and figures

Since independence, the state has devoted particular attention to disseminate cultural activities and to increase citizen participation in cultural life. It relied on "the Houses of culture" (or the people’s houses "), public libraries, and exhibition spaces to provide cultural products and to perform cultural activities. Itinerant public libraries (vans transformed into library-like structure) , itinerant cinema cars and a network of cinema clubs were also present. During the first years of television and radio, customs and taxes were decreased at import and sales as to promote their distribution to households. Films played a major role in attracting young people and other age categories to cultural life, in addition to book, music, theater and cultural fairs[1].

The expansion in cultural life due to the development of a new means of cultural production and diffusion – especially with the introduction of the computer, the Internet and satellite television broadcasting – has altered cultural needs, practices and roles of cultural spaces. A continuous decrease was observed in attending cinemas, public libraries, houses of and museums, except for a regular participation in summer festivals which remains an entertainment sphere.

Regarding statistics of cultural life participation and access to culture, they are mainly composed of quantitative indicators, with less detail concerning age categories or citizens’ cultural needs.

 For example, in the area of books, official reading statistics of 2011[2] show that there were 5,741,040 beneficiaries and that total number of books being read or lent stood at 10,338,203 ; there were 160,983 adherent to public libraries (children libraries, youth and adult libraries, and itinerant libraries).Museums have recorded in 2012 about 1.108.076 visits to all 50 sites and museums with 132,329 free visits.

Concerning festivals, official figures indicate 258 summer festivals, including 2 international festivals: the International Festival of Carthage and the International Festival of Hammamet with absence of more accurate statistics concerning the public. The permanent deficiency of accurate data and figures about access to culture in Tunisia has undermined the possibility of clearly linking cultural activities to cultural needs and assessing their impact on the entire cultural policy.

A study that was prepared in 2005 on "occurring cultural practices and expressions in youth"[3] can be considered as one of the first official studies that could provide a detailed description of a specific age (youth) and their relationship to cultural practices[4]. Despite the current Tunisian framework for gradually establishing a new social and political system based on democracy, the findings of the 2005 survey may remain valid for the current phase as because there has been no radical change in terms of public policy or political and social environment that would dramatically alter the characteristics of the youth towards cultural practices. The following table describing youth hobbies in 2005 stays almost valid for the current situation, with an increase in the extensive usage of the social networking websites and an increase in internet usage for movies, mobile applications, and videogames as new possible features in the hobby content. The attendance rate at movie theatres, public libraries, and houses of culture remained low:





15.32 %

Sports activities

4.25 %

Scientific and technical  activities

6.76 %

Artistic activities

4.57 %

Kinship visits

38.47 %

Picnic (outdoor)

13.79 %

Other hobbies

100 %


[1]See note 8

[2]Statistics about Public libraries – Library activities report (in Arabic) at : http://www.culture.tn/index.php/ar/2013-04-16-10-08-14

[3]“Occurring Cultural practices and expressions in Youth “  - National Observatory of Youth – 2005 – (in Arabic) at : http://www.onj.nat.tn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76&Itemid=69&lang=ar

[4]The sample of  the survey contained 2000 individuals from Great Tunis region (Ariana – Tunis – Ben Arous - Manouba)

Chapter published: 05-05-2015