Call for Nominations: Performing Artists for Cultural Diplomacy Program

Call for Nominations: Performing Arts Ensembles from Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Vietnam

Second round of Center StageSM fosters cross-cultural understanding


Music, dance, and theater ensembles from Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Vietnam are eligible. Learn more.


November 15, 2012


Adrienne Petrillo

617.951.0010 x527



Learn more about NEFA.


The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), calls for nominations of performing arts ensembles from Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Vietnam for the second round of Center StageSM.  By bringing international performing arts ensembles to tour the U.S., Center StageSM  builds cultural awareness, develops long-lasting relationships between people, and enhances mutual understanding.   


Artist Selection Criteria:

  • Demonstrate high artistic quality and accomplishment.  
  • Have an interest in engaging with U.S. communities, including youth, through public and in-school performances, workshops, discussions, artist-to-artist exchanges, and social events.
  • Are comprised of two to nine ensemble members (artists and staff) living in one of the countries listed above.
  • Have previous touring experience but have rarely been seen in the U.S.
  • Have an ability to communicate electronically via email and/or Skype, and a working knowledge of English and/or access to translators.

Nominations of ensembles working in contemporary forms are strongly encouraged.


Click Here to Apply

November 15, 2012 (tours will take place in 2014).

More information:


Center StageSM is made possible by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations.  Additional funding for Round 1 tours in 2012 comes from the Asian Cultural Council, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc.

HUFFINGTON POST ARTINFO: Following Tunisia's Art Fair Riots, Artists Speak Out About the Escalating Attacks on Free Speech

Following Tunisia's Art Fair Riots, Artists Speak Out About the Escalating Attacks on Free Speech

What is more important to an incipient democracy: the freedom to practice your religion, or the freedom to criticize it?

Over the past month, many artists in Tunisia have found themselves at the forefront of a battle between ultra-orthodox Salafist Muslims and the largely urban creative class critical of them. After decades of living in the secular-but-censored totalitarian state of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, post-revolutionary Tunisia is struggling to find the balance between recognizing free expression as a pillar of a fledgling republic and acquiescing to the newly vocal minority of conservative Muslims that, after years of religious oppression, are loathe to accept any attack on their faith. And the government seems to be failing the test.

Electro Jaye's provocative work was removed from display at the Printemps des Arts fair this month. / Courtesy the Artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY


Nadia Kaabi-Linke, an artist who lives between Tunis and Berlin, explains her fear that extremist ideas will take over: "There is a kind of religious fascism that is introducing itself into the Tunisian society, and I am terrified of that. There are enough negative historical experiences that make me feel very worried about a future like Iran and Algeria or even Afghanistan."

This turn in public perception comes just as artists are beginning to exert their new-found right to free expression, and marks a shift from the early days of the revolution. Speaking to ARTINFO last year at Art Dubai, Kaabi-Linke said that she regularly self-censored her work in the years before the revolution, as any perceived attack on the government could be dangerous for her. At the time, she had hope that the situation would improve, even sharing the stage in Dubai with the new Tunisian minister of finance, Jaloul Ayed. In April 2011, she said "his presence becomes symbolic, and to meet in this particular situation, because I am representing Tunisia here… yes, it was fantastic." In an email this week, she said that she would avoid going up on the podium with him if she found herself in the same situation today.


The tensions between the largely secular urban middle class and a growing extremist minority bubbled to the surface in early June after several politically charged artworks prompted two days of rioting in the streets of the capital city. The violence was incited when a government official (who many of the artists have referred to as a "bailiff") visited Printemps des arts, a long-running art fair in Tunis that shows work from a mix of local galleries and independent artists, in the upscale La Marsa suburb, and snapped a few photos. He brought them to a mosque frequented by Salafist extremists, who posted the images on Facebook before taking to the streets, protesting violently against several pieces they thought were offensive to Islam.

On June 11 and 12, groups of fundamentalists threw bombs, started fires, and clashed with police in the most fiercest conflict Tunisia has seen since the January 2011 revolution, which launched the Arab Spring. The demonstrations prompted the government to impose a curfew and the embassies of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom to issue emergency warnings to their citizens living in the country.


The fallout of the riots has been a test of the democratic ideals of Tunisia's moderately Islamic Ennahda party, which captured 89 of the 217 seats in the legislature during the October 2011 elections. Ennahda has preached religious tolerance, and said that it would like to model its government after the pro-democracy AK Party in Turkey (which is not without its secular detractors) rather than the more extreme Islamic states like Iran. But just nine months after the elections it is not clear that Ennahda is living up to its promise, and the Tunisian art community is paying the price.

Héla Ammar, a Tunisian artist who was showing work at Printemps des arts (but has not received death threats), frets about moves by authorities to criminalize the violation of the sacred — a move that she said threatens the entire creative class. She told ARTINFO, "It would mark the end of freedom of expression not only artists but also of any intellectuals or creatives … we all have a duty to fight: for freedom of expression but also for a creative free and tolerant societal model."

Over the last week, the government has sent mixed messages on its stance toward the situation. Several government officials said publicly that the violence by the Salafists constitutes terrorism and will not be co
ndoned. However, at the same time the government has shown little tolerance for the rights of the artists to express themselves. According to the Web site Tunisia Live, the human rights minister Samir Dilou "said that sacrilegious art was not allowed, and that it is the Muslims' right to defend their values and norms." Though the government doesn't condone the violence that the Salafists initiated, its public statements suggest widespread intolerance of critical expression — a 180-degree turn from the pre-election rhetoric of the party.


In a May 18, 2011, interview with the German radio station Deutschlandradio Kultur, Dilou took a much more moderate stance. Then, he pushed the idea that Ennahda, while Islamic, is not Islamist, and that the new government wanted a democracy, not a theocracy, though many of the party's values are derived from the principles of the Koran. He said that the party stood for "a state that is dominated by the idea of freedom" — and that "the religious state model in the sense of Algeria or the Taliban has failed."

But according to artists on the ground in Tunisia, the situation has rapidly deteriorated in the past year. After the Printemps des arts fair, many of the artists associated with the politically charged work were forced to go into hiding after receiving numerous death threats — not only from Tunisia, but from extremists as far away as Germany and Canada who had seen the Facebook album. A prominent Tunisian imam, Houcine Laabidi, also declared publicly that the "infidel" artists should be put to death.


This is not the first time that the ultraconservative Islamists have made trouble over cultural elements they perceive as offensive to Islam. In January of 2012, 140 lawyers filed lawsuits against the owner of a Tunisian television channel after a broadcast of the French-Iranian film "Persepolis," which many conservative Muslims find offensive because it contains a scene depicting God (which is forbidden in Islam). Lawyers representing the TV station argued that it was an illegal case and should never have reached the courts. However, the lawyers in favor of censoring the film countered with arguments including, "Freedom of expression should never be a pretext to attack sacred values." The outcome was that the court fined the television station $1,600. Despite these pro-Islamist actions, the radical Salafist minority believes the government is not doing enough to promote the religion of 98 percent of Tunisian society.

Even before the Printemps des arts opened, rumors of censorship at the fair had set off an incident. Tunisian graffiti artist Elecktro Jaye accused the fair's organizers of removing his provocative work for political reasons. Though they denied the claim, citing space reasons, the artist told Tunisia Live, "One of the organizers told me that he was receiving pressure from the State to take down my artwork because it was too politically engaging and might cause problems." If it is true that the fair organizers bowed to the whim of goverment officials, it didn't keep them out of trouble. Following the protests, the government shut down the fair and fined its organizers.

Still, one side of this fight is maintaining its democratic approach: The artists are fighting back by circling an international petition condemning the government for inching toward autocracy. It amounts to a last-ditch attempt to shame the government into acting:

A very vigorous international denunciation addressed to this government published in Newspapers and on the Net would represent and extraordinary disavowal which would force them to preserve freedom of conscience, creation, expression and the life of artists.
-Shane Ferro, ARTINFO

Travel Grant‏ in Mediterranean area – Roberto Cimetta Fund for Mobility

Deadline: Every 5 to 6 weeks
Open to: all professionals, artists or cultural operators in all fields of contemporary arts in the Mediterranean
Grant: individual travel grants – arts mobility, travel, meeting with other professionals

The Roberto Cimetta Fund is an international association promoting artistic exchange and the mobility of professionals in the field of contemporary performing arts and visual arts within the Mediterranean area.

In the Mediterranean region, the frontier region between the Arab, European and Turkish worlds, mobility is an historic reality and an absolute necessity today. It is essential to give shape to the concept of « the dialogue between cultures » and to ensure that individuals really meet ; more concretely this means to make financial resources available to facilitate travel, to capitalise on the opportunities for professional gathering, but also to recognise the free circulation of culture professionals as an integral part of their work. These are amongst the objectives of the Roberto Cimetta Fund.

Arts mobility, travel, meeting with other professionals are all aspects of artistic vitality. In a region where artists are often confronted with economically difficult situations, the Roberto Cimetta Fund supports and encourages travel which allows culture professionals to find the opportunities, partners and means to realise personal or collective projects; thus facilitating networking, exchanges of experience and cultural and artistic cooperation.

With the support of a number of partners, the Roberto Cimetta Fund has set up a programme for awarding individual travel grants. These cover travel and visa costs for trips such as attending professional cultural network meetings, workshops, artist’s residences, symposiums etc. The programme is intended to operate simply, flexibly and quickly. Selections are organised regularly (every 5 to 6 weeks).


The Roberto Cimetta Fund organises professional platforms for comparing experience and knowledge on regional artistic issues in the Mediterranean.

If you apply on one of the two priority strands listed below you will have more chance of being successful if your application fits the criteria of these strands. If your project or travel aims do not fit either of these strands then your application will be examined under the general funding line which is multidirectional, transdisciplinary and open to candidacies from all EU countries, all countries around the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf countries (see list under “travel grant for whom?” section).

Priority strand one
Priority is given to artists and operators coming from or going to the following cities and countries :

* Algeria (Algiers)
* Armenia (Gumri)
* Israel (Haifa)
* Italy (Province of Genova)
* Morocco (Marrakech)
* Palestine (Bethlehem)
* Tunisia (Tunis)

Priority strand two
Priority is given to artists and operators whose travel aims or projects can link into the Marseille-Provence, European capital of culture 2013 events, themes or the region (which encompasses 130 local communities from Arles to Hyères, through St. Remy de Provence and the Pays d’Aix. See MP2013 website for detailed map). If the applicant is travelling from South to South (ie from Maghreb to Near East or vice versa) or from South to East ((ie Balkans to Near East including Turkey, or Maghreb including Egypt and vice versa) then chances of making a successful application are even higher.


The travel grant programme is addressed to all professionals, artists or cultural operators in all fields of contemporary arts in the Mediterranean (the countries on the north shore from Portugal to Turkey, and on the south side from the Near East to the Maghreb). European professionals may apply but only if their project has a strong Mediterranean connection. The Roberto Cimetta Fund travel grants are individual – they are granted to specific individuals and not to organisations. The application must therefore be filled in and sent by the person desiring the grant. A maximum of three applications linked to the same project will be accepted (participants for short term training events, for example), but the selection will be based on the merit of each individual personally: he/she must clearly describe their career path, motivations and personal objectives.
The project must involve one of the following artistic disciplines

  • contemporary performing arts : new theatrical forms, new writing for theatre, dramaturgy, contemporary dance, circus, street performances in situ, puppet theatre and inter-disciplinary projects,
  • visual arts including photography, film, digital arts, video arts
  • literature : especially travel for authors’ meetings, writing workshops, poetry…

The exchange must take place in the Euro-Mediterranean area

  • the 27 countries of the European Union- the Southern and Eastern countries of the Mediterranean: Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Algeria, Libya
  • Balkan countries that are not members of the EU: Serbia, Albania, FYROM (Macedonia), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Croatia.
  • The countries of the Arabian Gulf (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman).

Applicants’ profile

  • nationality: the selection committee does not take into account the nationality of the applicants but the country where they live and work (see the list above).
  • age: no age limit, but the selection committee prefers to support professionals who are starting their professional careers and who have not already developed their access to international professional networks.
  • profession: artists (interpreters, creators, teachers, writers), cultural operators (organizers, managers).
  • projects: projects at a professional level.
  • financial means: priority is given to applicants who do not have access to other funds supporting their travel, and to those who are the most artistically and economically isolated.

The applications must be made by an individual
Up to three applicants from the same organization or project can apply for a travel bursary related to the same project, but their applications will be evaluated separately according to their individual professional pathway
The travel grant

RCF will only reimburse one international return travel ticket and visa costs (no reimbursement for local transport costs, registration fees, accommodation, per diem…). The amount reimbursed is the amount you estimate on the application form. You must choose the cheapest way to travel (economy class…).

How to apply?

The request must be written and sent by the individual applicant him/herself and not by an organisation.
The process is quite simple and fast (about one month).

  • to know the date of the coming session in advance, check on webpages or contact the coordinator
  • Use one of the application forms which you will find at the end of this text. The application forms correspond to the priority strands that are indicated in the “priorities” webpage. Use the blue arrow to help you navigate down to the bottom of this text. Just click on the link and download the document. Fill it in carefully and provide the correct and concise information.
  • Fill it in in French or English.
  • Send it by e-mail to

Required documents

  • the application form, completely filled in
  • If possible an invitation letter from the organisers of this event.


The dates of the sessions of selection are indicated on the site and are subject to change so check regularly.  Late applications won’t be submitted.

Application forms

Click here to download the application form for the RC fund.
Click here to download the application form for strand 1.
Click here to download the application form for strand 2.
The filled form has to be sent to before the next deadline.

Click here for more information.

Please note that Mladiinfo does not give scholarships or any financial support, but only informs about different opportunities. Click on the direct link to the official page above to apply for the program.

The Gaza Monologues at the UN‏

The Gaza Mono-Logues

On November 20, 2010, twenty-six young actors representing twenty-one countries arrive in New York City to perform The Gaza Mono-Logues. 

(Italy-France-Belgium-The Netherlands-UK-Germany-Swiss-Hungary-Norway-Sweden-Greece-

Palestine-Lebanon-Tunisia-Jordan-Pakistan-Sri Lanka-Zimbabwe-Gambia-Trinidad-USA)

Directors Iman Aoun (ASHTAR Theatre, Palestine) and Shauna Kanter (VOICETheatre, NYC) will create with them a performance of these texts in all their different languages.

A public performance is hosted by La MaMa E.T.C on Sunday 28th at 8PM in The Club.

Two performances will take place in the United Nations for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, November 29th at 12:30PM in Conference Hall 2 right after the Special Meeting, and in the evening at 6.30PM in the public lobby around the opening exhibition of UNRWA, Summer Games in Gaza.

Olivia Magnan de Bornier: 718 974 1240
Interviews available in English, French, Arabic.