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Mapping the Dance Ecosystem in Jordan and Tunisia

Studio 8 (Jordan),

Danseurs Citoyens Sud (Tunisia)

2021

Starting

What is Your Place in a Dance Production?

 A dance production is and always has been a collaborative effort.

Do you have a wild imagination and no sense of embarrassment?

Are you skilled at cleaning up other people’s mess?

Do you secretly want to dance?

If you are able to answer those questions without a hint of hesitation, then choosing which path you follow in the dance production is about to get much easier — which is to say it will get slightly less hard.

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Mapping the Dance Ecosystem in Jordan and Tunisia

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French edition – download

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Arabic edition – download

English Edition

Mapping the Dance Ecosystem in Jordan and Tunisia

Studio 8 (Jordan), Danseurs Citoyens Sud (Tunisia)

2021

1. Dance Ecosystem

A dance ecosystem is comprised of the network of all agents in the dance sector. The idea is that each entity in the ecosystem affects and is affected by the others. This creates a constantly evolving network of relationships in which each entity must be flexible and adaptable in order to survive, pretty much as in a biological ecosystem.

2. Overview of Jordan’s Dance Ecosystem

Even as dance in surrounding locations — Occupied Palestine, Lebanon, Syria — has rapidly developed through festivals, companies, international exchanges, and training opportunities, the dance scene in Jordan remains somewhat “underground”.

When I arrived in Jordan, I thought there was no dance happening, but that’s not the case. You just have to look: it’s there but hidden!

Dance could be seen as a cultural phenomenon that mirrors the strategies of Tunisian cultural politics during the past 60 years.

It is constantly changing with past and present dynamics intermingling and clashing, embodying the endless process of redefining the cultural identity of Tunisia.

Tunisian artists and creative people assert themselves in different ways and still try to formulate independent collective cultural strategies in their external relations.

4. The Bigger Circle

The dance sector is embedded in broader artistic traditions. There are other essential sectors which could intersect with the dance sector and identify new potentials for partnerships. Such partnerships could be an important step in achieving the sustainability most dance artists are looking for.

What objectives does the dance sector like to meet?

Political: Media coverage, recognition and appreciation, broad audiences

Administrative: Efficacy, an organizational structure, administrative procedures, financial management

Professional: Excellence and quality, recognition and professional career opportunities, meeting of creative needs

Community: Good service, accessibility, identity

5. Constraints

Despite the progress made in recent years as well as clear examples of success stories, there is no doubt that the dance sector remains hampered in its development by a number of challenges which it continues to face until today.

Overview: Underdevelopment of the Dance sector

Other Names: Underdevelopment of productive and economic activities related to dance

Broader Problems:

  • Loss of creative and human resources in the cultural field
  • Weak cultural life
  • Cultural diversity crisis
  • Cultural identity crisis
  • Weak creative economy
  • Reduction of the impact of human, social, and creative capital

6. Key Constraints

One purpose of this mapping is to identify the key challenges and needs which the dance sectors in Jordan and Tunisia are currently confronted with. These constraints determine the maximum capacity of their dance ecosystems. By removing or improving a single constraint, the ecosystem can be elevated to a higher level of performance.

Lack of collective body/action

I am feeling like an orphan!

I don’t want to work only by myself.

Lack of acknowledgement as a professional sector

We artists don’t take ourselves seriously, we don’t even dare to consider ourselves as artists!

Lack of funding

There is no way I can make a living from my art!

7. Other Challenges

The dance sectors in Jordan and Tunisia are also facing a number of challenges that are related to these two countries’ current demography and socio-political culture.

Weak national cultural policy

Where is the government’s recognition and leadership?

Weaknesses or limitations in the education system

The education system as the root of the problems!

Still building a national identity

Seriously, do we have a unique culture? What is our culture?

Lack of public awareness

Respect us! Dance is not taboo, inappropriate, or unacceptable.

8. Cultural Policy

Cultural policy refers to governmental actions, laws and programs that regulate, protect, encourage and financially (or otherwise) support activities related to the arts and creative sectors, such as painting, sculpture, music, dance, literature and filmmaking as well as other activities related to culture that involve language, heritage, or diversity.

< 1%

total government spending on culture and cultural activities

Jordan

No government leadership or effective support

There is currently no overarching government strategy for the arts.

Tunisia

Fragmentation, transformation, and uncertainty

The main trends with regard to both governmental entities and the independent arts community are fragmentation, transformation, and uncertainty.

9. Nation Branding

State bodies in charge of the dance sector play a significant role in both Jordan and Tunisia. Nation branding abroad and patronage networks. The priority is given to the following aspects:

Dance featuring in large-scale cultural promotion events

Traditional dance as a tool for promoting tourism

Dance heritage

10. Mass Media and Dance Culture

The mass media plays a pervasive role in modern life. Every day, we listen to radio, read newspapers, watch television, and surf on the Internet. We are virtually living in a world that is mediated by the mass-media. This immense influence of the mass media shapes the dance culture.

A vicious circle

The population is not interested in anything that the media only rarely reports about, as for example dance.

The media in turn does not report on anything which the population is not interested in, as for example dance.

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The underlying issue

The media lacks coverage by strong art critics who could promote art in general and could help to shape opinions on what is good or bad.

No one but you

Professional journalism is still largely inexistent. If the artists themselves don’t write a press release about their show, almost nobody writes about it. All that the current ‘art critics’ do, is to reprint press releases with slight changes.

No intellectual writing culture about dance

This is both due to the low salaries paid in the media sector that do not attract young, talented people as well as to the dominance of other, more “popular” writing styles.

11. Media Interest in Dance

There is a lack of interest in dance by the mass media. Dance is rarely covered in movies or radio and television productions.

There is a lack of interest print media. Dance is rarely covered in books, magazines, newspapers, or pamphlets.

A Lack of Media Interest

The lack of awareness and appreciation among the wider population is accompanied by a lack of media interest in dance.

12. Public Awareness of the Value of Dance

Weak media coverage

The media has shown a lack of interest in covering the arts and cultural sectors, assuming that these sectors do not attract the attention of their audience.

Lack of awareness

Overall, the understanding of dance is very low among potential audiences.

Weak art education

Jordan

Art was removed from the curriculum of state schools in the 1970s.

Tunisia

Arts education needs more appreciation and resources.

Lack of Awareness and Appreciation

There are still negative perceptions attached to dance on the side of the population. The pervasive lack of awareness and appreciation among audiences (and potential supporters) is very difficult to overcome for the dance sector.

13. Dance Education

Education in the art of dance develops the knowledge and skills required to create, perform, and understand movement as a means of artistic communication. Dance education also encompasses research, including original scholarly research on effective ways of teaching and learning dance.

Jordan

Dance is almost entirely absent from the curriculum across the educational sector.

Scarce to find in public education

Occasionally offered in private education

Rarely offered in primary education

Rarely offered in secondary education

Not available in higher education

Scarce opportunities of professional and vocational dance education

Tunisia

The country remains under the influence of strong popular traditions, 2011 revolution and widespread poverty.

Issue of access to basic knowledge

Issue of education

Issue of the development of critical thinking

14. Focus on Education

Due to the socio-economic situation and the prominence of religion and traditions, some cultural workers in contemporary Jordan and Tunisia consider it best to understand dance in its broadest sense and to orient the focus of their activities more towards education.

My fear is that if we fail in dance education, or art education in general, we would support only a small elite in a narrow artistic niche. This would be perceived wrongly by low-income strata and all those who see Western culture as a new form of colonization.

14. Dance Professionalism

Dance professionalization is a process that transforms the art of dancing into a true profession characterized by outstanding quality and competence.

The professional dance sector is made up of dancers, choreographers, rehearsal or master dancers, costume and set designers, makeup artists, publicists, and support staff behind the scenes.

The amateur dance sector relies solely on the popularity of dance as part of the broader culture. It consists primarily of private dance schools that teach dancing to both children and adults.

15. Professional Dance Sector

In both Jordan and Tunisia where private sponsorship and philanthropy are not well-established, the professional dance sector is still searching for sustainable and diverse financing opportunities.

We have individual small successes but when it comes to the sector as a whole, that is an entirely different story.

Earn a living through other means

People can often not afford to work full time as professional artists and many have other jobs in addition to their creative work.

Small domestic market

The development of Jordan’s and Tunisia’s professional dance sector is hampered by the small size of its domestic market which cannot sustain a professionalized, commercial performing arts industry.

16. Dance Value Chain

A dance value chain is a step-by-step business model for translating a product or service from an idea into reality. Every single activity within the process can be evaluated to assess its impact on the chain’s overall viability.

17. A Dance Production

A cultural facility’s identity is fundamentally expressed through the artistic project at its heart. In the case of a dance company, it is embodied in its dance productions

Pre-production

This is the planning of the production.

Promotion

Promote a performance, produce press kits, write a press release, and distribute it.

Touring

Disseminate the production through participating in different theatres, festivals, and other events.

Financing

Design a budget and fund-raise.

Production

It includes the technical organization as well as the coordination and logistics of the rehearsals.

Presentation

Ensure an adequate presentation of the production in front of the audiences.

18. What is Your Place in the Dance Production?

 A dance production is and always has been a collaborative effort.

Do you have a wild imagination and no sense of embarrassment?

Are you skilled at cleaning up other people’s mess?

Do you secretly want to direct?

If you are able to answer those questions without a hint of hesitation, then choosing which path you follow in the dance production is about to get much easier — which is to say it will get slightly less hard.

19. To Reach Our Audiences

While more independent dance performances are taking place in Jordan and Tunisia, this has not yet resulted in creating the critical mass of (constantly available) performances which is required to turn attendance into a habit so that people regularly think “let’s go to a dance performance”. More events need to be programmed and promoted to achieve this.

The process that evolves between the onset of a person’s desire to attend a dance performance and that desire’s effective fulfillment is very complex and can be studied on the basis of people’s different motivations.

21. Funding

Dance organizations are usually not self-supporting organizations. They often depend on ticket sales as well as private donations, grants, and government support. Since private donations and grants are uncertain and unreliable, some organizations struggle when the economy is sluggish and have to shorten their seasons or reduce their staff.

Income through advertising

Classes, activities

Shop, sales of sub-products

Renting out space or equipment

Copyright royalties for published or distributed works

Crowd funding

Ticket revenue

Business sponsorship

Consultation

Event organization services

International support

Partnership

Philanthropic patronage

Government funding

Honoraria, commissions, artistic fees

Grants, awards

22. Funding Challenges

In Jordan and Tunisia, government support of the arts is limited.

Business support of dance is limited to what is “popular” and “known”.

Banking and funders do not currently lend to businesses on the basis of taking intellectual property assets as collateral.

Therefore, many in the dance sector see international organizations, such as cultural centers and embassies, as their only chance to get support.

(×_×)

Crowd funding

(╥_╥)

Local government support

(ᵔ◡ᵔ)

International governments and aid agencies

.

(╥_╥)

Accelerator, Investment Fund

(×_×)

Ticket Sales

23. Young Artists

In Arab countries, young people are the fastest growing age segment with some 60% of the population being under 25 years old. In recent years, many young Jordanian and Tunisian initiatives and contemporary cultural projects have emerged and found themselves a niche.

However, for many young artists and cultural operators, setting up and managing their own business or organization is a huge challenge for which they have rarely been trained.

Despite far greater access to new media channels, I feel my conceptual horizon remains limited by my lack of experience with the civil society practices that are available in other societies.

I feel you.

24. Capacity-building

By improving the skills and professionalism of employees and businesses within the dance sector in Jordan and Tunisia, the quality of that sector’s output would likely be upgraded.

Improve business and commercial skills

 

Develop “how-to” guides, standard contract templates, etc.

 

Capacity-building supporting services are needed. Available legal and accounting services for the dance sector in Jordan and Tunisia need to be improved.

Provide practical “labs” for young people who are currently creating micro content, thereby offering them the possibility to develop their skills without going to university.

Foster international knowledge exchange: rather than focusing only on accessing international funding resources, more could be done to encourage international knowledge exchange.

Establish a mentoring scheme. Existing skills could be shared via mentoring, for example through partnerships between young entrepreneurs or start-ups and already established ‘mentors’ who can provide advice and support.

25.Solutions

Members of the dance sector need practical steps in order to create businesses and improve their capacity and sustainability.

21.Skill swap

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22.Improve M&E

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23.Impact audit

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24.Improve dance research

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25.Improve business skills

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26.Peer-to-peer skills development

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27.Mentoring

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28.Improve management skills

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29.Encourage informal education

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30.Empower young people currently creating micro content

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31.Improve arts curriculum

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32.Teaching staff needs up-skilling

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33.Encourage new learning initiatives

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34.Improve link between higher education and the private sector

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35.Develop community solutions

6.Encourage young entrepreneurs and start-ups

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7.Establish an accelerator

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8.Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

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9.Develop a lab for experimentation

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10.Promote greater use of crowdfunding

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11.Establish co-creating/co-location facilities

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12.Seed fund

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13.Business development

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14.Improve access to funding

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15.Establish incubator

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16.Legal services

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17.Accounting/Auditing services

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18.Improve supportive services

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19.Use new technology

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20.Adapt to digital economy

1.Improve theatre facilities and equipment

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2.Safeguard dance heritage

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3.Increase government financial contribution

Collective body/action

Capacity building

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Raise awareness

4.Improve business philanthropy and sponsorship

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5.Corporate & art partnership

36.Establish a dance forum

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37.Foster international knowledge exchange

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38.Local, regional, and International placement

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39.Celebrate cultural diversity

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40.After school activities

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41.Turn attending performance into a habit

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42.Increase exposure with the International audience

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43.Increase exposure with the local audience

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44.Promote involvement of people with disabilities

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45.Reach marginalized groups

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46.Promote involvement of practitioners of marginalized communities

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47.Promote involvement of LGBTQ practitioners

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48.Promote involvement of women practitioners

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49.Increase access to International market

50.More street performances

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51.Organize large-scale events

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52.A performing arts road show

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53.Touring and showcasing

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54.International exchange

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55.Encourage art critics in media

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56.Establish a promo-brand

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57.Improve media coverage

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58.Generate media buy-in

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59.Improve access to public

space

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60.Provide payment guidance, and welfare payments

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61.Improve dance infrastructure

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62.Enhance dance facilities

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63.Marketing development

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64.Price and Award

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65.Improve theatre facilities and equipment

Create a union

Creators

Studio 8

Studio 8 is a non- profit company based in Amman and active in the fields of dance and performing arts. Through innovation, experimentation, development, exchange, education and research, Studio 8 contributes to building a shared source of understanding, identity, creativity, and cohesion and transforms and enriches the lives of Jordanians and others.

Danseurs Citoyens Sud

Since its establishment as an independent non-profit association, Danseurs Citoyens Sud has implemented many projects for the benefit of marginalized and impoverished groups, especially in the southeastern and western provinces of Tunisia, whom the state considers second- class citizens.

Team

This document was conceived and developed by Studio 8 in collaboration with Danseurs Citoyens Sud.

-Research-

Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh, Anas Abunahleh, Omar Ben Amor, Ahmed Guerfel, Fyras Nasfi

-Data analysis-

Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh, Anas Abunahleh, Xiaoman Ren

-Editor-

Xiaoman Ren

-Graphic Design and data visualization-

Xiaoman Ren, Miramar Moh’d, Nagham Khader, Solionkat

-Translation and editing-

Kristina Kaghdo

-Oringinal track-

Rakan Jreisat – Swish Audio House

About

Dance as a sub-sector of the creative sector is important because it enables dialogue and exchange and because the outputs of the dance sector shape the identity of a country and its people. And finally, as this document seeks to demonstrate, the dance sector is important because it contributes to the economic prosperity of a country.

As independent non-profit organizations focusing on dance, Studio 8 (Jordan) and Danseurs Citoyens Sud (Tunisia) feel a strong need to develop a common framework that promotes the emancipation of young people through opening up to them the many opportunities which the sector offer. This document seeks to make the first step from research to action, trying to achieve the following purpose: to develop an online platform that offers dynamic, easy-to-use digital facilities and toolkits and to better support our creative communities of individuals and organizations.

 

This document was produced with the support of Tandem 360° that is funded by German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by MitOst e.V.

Special thanks to OPEN UP! Tasharouk for mobility support.

Especially appreciate

  • Al Badil
  • Selim Ben Safia
  • Syhem Belkhodja
  • Nawel Skandrani
  • Malek Sebai
  • Nesrine Chaabouni
  • Fatima Al-Sharif
  • Daghsni Mohamed
  • Cyrinne Douss
  • Imed Jemaa
  • Chouaib Brick
  • Sadak trabelsi
  • Hatem Daabek
  • Claire Pritchard
  • Jawhar Zitouni
  • Claire Pritchard
  • Al Balad Theater
  • Raed Asfour
  • Muath Isied
  • Aya Nabulsi
  • Ahmad Wawi
  • 7Hills
  • Mohammed Zakaria
  • Jude Swearky
  • Miramar Moh’d
  • MedeArts
  • Safi Adnan
  • Samer Betar
  • Al Shams theater
  • Dr. Abdelsalam Qubailat
  • Hayat Jaber
  • Search for Common Ground MENA Regional Office
  • Noor Abughazaleh
 
 

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French edition – download

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Arabic edition – download