Tunisia/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Since independence, successive Governments have created, through the Ministry of Culture, local and regional structures: socially, to provide access to culture for all citizens, and politically, to maintain direct control on the local cultural sector and to strengthen central decision-making.

At the beginning of this new infrastructure, there were the houses of culture that were built, equipped and administered by the ministry of culture and the people’s houses that were built and administered by local communities in 1960’s. Later, the houses of culture were jointly financed by both parties and the system of people’s houses was abandoned.

The network of the houses of culture has gradually grown especially after the adoption of the objective «one House of culture in each commune” since 2005, and it became the most remarkable  public cultural institution in all regions of the country. The following table presents statistics concerning the Houses of culture:

Years

 

2013 (Forecast)

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

 

222

216

215

215

210

209

number of Houses of culture

30,000

28,798

25,703

28.978

28,150

27,230

number of cultural acts

(Events and cultural activities)

1,100

1,053

914

952

1,020

1,024

number of clubs

1100

1035

901

931

986

987

number of animators

20,500

20,043

15,514

17,372

18,031

19,909

number of subscribers

3

-

-

-

-

-

Private Cultural houses

Source (http://www.culture.tn)

The support to houses of culture includes providing  equipment  and renovations. The following table represents data concerning detailed expenditures of the Ministry of culture for houses of culture:

Years

 

2013

(Forecast)

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

(1,000 TND)

8,762

 

1,700

1,000

511

2,000

3,491

60

8,803

 

1,600

1,000

700

2,000

3,445

50

         8,069

 

 1,200

900

770

1,800

3,352

50

6,497

 

1,090

800

350

1,652

2,560

45

5,426

 

990

400

350

1,320

2,327

42

5,182

 

900

400

450

1,200

2,190

42

 

Total budget for Houses of culture

Houses  of culture

Cultural equipment

Fixed equipment

Computer equipment

Maintenance

Management

 

Despite their  increase in numerical terms and/or their allocated budgets public, houses of culture did not play a significant role in establishing local cultural dynamics that would express the cultural specifications of their communities and groups. Instead, the political exploitation of these structures by previous political regimes has undermined their cultural role and impact, and transformed them into an extension of a political system since the 1980's.  This situation can explain assaults that took place on managers of certain houses of culture in early 2011 on the basis of their relationship to the regime at that time and their role in producing political propaganda.

In order to break the negative stereotypes around the houses of culture, the Ministry of Culture has enacted decisions enabling managers of houses of cultures to avoid organizing activities of a political nature in their spaces. Nonetheless, within the framework of international cooperation, several training programs are organized for houses of culture managers, especially since 2012, in the scope of cultural management. One of the programs is funded by the German Goethe Institute which aims to "change the perception about houses of culture"[1]and to promote local cultural dynamics. In addition, the UNESCO funded study of 2011 highlighted that the houses of culture are called to cooperate on a project for creating a genuine cultural image of their localities and for optimal usage of their equipment. Yet, at the administrative level, the managerial authority of the houses of culture remains connected to the regional delegate for culture and associated with the central authority, which reduces in return any potential for their development and independence. In the current context, the houses of culture can become "platforms" to support the process of democratic transition by raising the level of the diversity of cultural expressions in Tunisia and promoting citizen participation in local and national cultural life. Moreover, they can be assigned  to play a new role in supporting social cohesion and promoting the values of democracy.

Private Houses of culture/cultural centers (multiple activities) are allowed by the specifications document. On the other hand, many private initiatives have suffered from financial difficulties due to the lack of adequate incentives in this domain. These private structures are often under the mercy of public support for their operational costs leading to a decrease of their independence in terms of creativity and cultural debates. The change of political conditions after 2011 enabled a new framework for the growth of private initiatives in cultural clubs and centers with prevailing relative cultural freedom until now.



[1]See project at Goethe institute site (in French) : http://www.allemagnepartenaire.tn/Fr/culture-et-media_58_8_D42#.Uv2VDcl1jcs


Chapter published: 05-05-2015


EN | ES