Tunisia/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.1 Amateur arts and folk culture

Art is practiced as a hobby mainly in specialized clubs either in houses of culture, houses of Youth , in other public structures such as schools, universities student centers or through Amateur Art associations (i.e amateur theatrical associations, amateur music and dance Association,  amateur folklore associations, Etc…). The Ministry of culture offers grants to support these associations either for participation in events abroad and local performances or in joint cooperation projects with foreign parties. For example, the number of amateur theatre groups that received grants for management and promotion[1] reached 106 associations in  2012 . In addition, they benefited from support to 699 performances and to participate in artistic events abroad. Other groups were invited to participate in training sessions organized by the Ministry. Concerning amateur Music, they are provided grants to support their participation in the shows abroad, and they benefit from the organization of music festivals for amateurs (e.g. the National Festival for amateur musicians in MenzelTamim). Allocations for amateur musical associations reached 170,000 Dinars in 2012.

A special licensing mechanism allows amateur artists from amongst civil servants to participate in cultural events and activities according to their areas of interest and with no need for a holiday leave. In addition, a new license called "creative license" was established since 2008, and it allows any arts amateur from the public sector to benefit from a full-time leave for 6 months to focus on his/her creative work, while maintaining monthly salary and all other job benefits. It is issued through a Ministerial Committee chaired by the public service department at Government presidency (previously the Prime Ministry).

In relation to folklore and traditional knowledge, several civil initiatives have contributed in the preservation of artistic heritage amongst them the example of Rachidia music group, which was founded in 1934 by a group of Tunisian intellectuals with the aim to preserve Tunisian musical heritage. It is an association and is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Tunis. Moreover, the National Center for Arab and Mediterranean music is responsible for the documentation of musical heritage and for the preservation of musical archives. The exploitation of an artwork from the musical heritage by an artist requires a certificate for use provided by the Ministry of Culture and issued prior to a fee payment to the Tunisian organization for the protection of authors’ rights.

Tunisia's accession to the International Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage (UNESCO, 2003) has launched the current filing process for selected Tunisian intangible heritage as to be proposed for inscription in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity which encourages contribution from associations. In addition, several specialized festivals in folklore (e.g. the Equestrian Festival, International Festival of Douz, International Festival of Mountainous Villages ...) relatively contribute to the revival of Folklore and traditional knowledge as to ensure their sustainability and vitality. With regard to crafts that represent one of the most important economic sectors and mean to preserve traditional knowledge, it is under the supervision of the Ministry of Commerce with close coordination with the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture. For example, heritage institutions participate in specialized inter-ministerial committees to develop crafts sector.

[1]See note 10

Chapter published: 05-05-2015