Cultural Programmes

Middle East and North Africa: Drama, Diversity and Development

Cultural Programme |
Street theatre performance in Agadir, Morocco.

Duration: March 2014 – February 2017

Location: Middle East and North Africa

Minorities: disadvantaged ethnic, religious, linguistic or cultural minority groups in at least 6 countries of the ones mentioned above. Some of the minority communities include: Berber/Amazight, Black Africans, religious minorities, refugees, migrants, Toubou, Touareg, Bedouins, Palestinians, Armenians, internally displaced people, Arab Israelis, Druze and other similar groups.

What is this programme about?

This new exciting programme uses culture to promote diversity and challenge discrimination against minorities. Leading edge theatre stirs the streets of Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Israel; performances that demand your attention in the cities of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia – in seven countries local artists will promote diversity through theatre to the general public in a fast changing environment. This cultural and rights-based venture will use powerful theatre whose content is driven by a pioneering idea-sharing network across the region. Groups will have opportunities to unite ensuring that the drama is non-exclusive, has perspective and engages all levels of society.

The work will have immediate contact with audiences, as post performance debates between actors and public will trigger dialogue about multiplicity, difference, discrimination, equality and justice.  The programme will raise awareness of the role of culture in social cohesion in a wide-ranging but profound way.

This programme is funded by the European Union in the regional programme “Media and Culture for Development in the Sourthern Mediterranean Region Programme”, which aims to support the efforts of the Southern Mediterranean countries’ in building deep-rooted democracy and to contribute to their sustainable economic, social and human development, through regional co-operation in the fields of media and culture. It supports activities fostering cultural policy reform and reinforcing the capacity of cultural policy makers, as well as promoting investment and the development of cultural operators’ business capabilities.

What are we doing?

The programme, which started in March 2014, will implement the following main activities:

  • An open call for proposals for street theatre projects in Middle East and North Africa. There will be two rounds of calls for proposals, one in 2014 and one in 2015.
  • Two regional training events to strengthen the capacity of the grantee organisations in delivering projects of this kind.
  • Commissioning a regional film.
  • Open call for tender for feasibility studies on litigation/remedies for cultural rights abuses.
  • Open call for local, provincial, regional or international advocacy projects on abuses of / increased respect for cultural rights.

Why we are implementing this programme?

Our research showed that matching minority- and artist-led organisations would bridge the need for drama, technical, marketing, media and project management skills in the former and the need to build knowledge/trust of minority communities in the latter. In many places discussion of the existence and positive integration of minority communities is just beginning to happen as part of transition processes (e.g. Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia). This means arts organisations are interested in minorities but do not necessarily feel able to take this forward.

Links between artists from different countries are still very limited for the most part – regional festivals allow exchanges (e.g. film and music festivals) however there is much more limited exchange in terms of drama. Some links do exist between minority communities because of common heritages, however, these minority based links are at the level of either families, personal relationships, or political activism, and rarely involve collaborations, joint work or sharing by artists (some exceptions involve music and film).

Finally, ministries of culture are often ambitious in their National Strategic Plans as are Ministers of Culture in their public statements (e.g. Khalida Toum of Algeria or similar) and may be positive about theatre as a medium (e.g. OPT). However, national budgets for culture are very limited (e.g. less than 1% of PNA budget) and thus, may struggle to make significant progress.

Who is delivering the programme with us?

MRG is implementing this project in partnership with Civic Forum Institute (CFI) based in Ramallah, and Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies in Cairo. Below you can read more information about both of them.

Civic forum institute logo

Civic Forum Institute Palestine (CFI) is a non-profit Palestinian organisation that works to build and strengthen the foundations of democracy in Palestine and develop Palestinian civil society organisations. It raises citizen’s awareness of democratic principles and processes, and empowers local leaders and organisations through programs and activities organised in local communities throughout Palestine.

Andalus Institute LogoAndalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies is an independent research institution that relies on the values of tolerance and citizenship, aiming to contribute to human development in Egyptian and Arabic societies. It does so spreading the culture of tolerance through fighting and antagonizing.

Find out more:

flag_yellow_highThis project is funded by the European Union. This content is the sole responsibility of Minority Rights Group International and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Filed Under: Cultural Programmes