The European Union has awarded €4 million to the British Council to implement the ‘Appui au Renforcement du Secteur Culturel Tunisien’ (‘Supporting the Strengthening of Tunisia’s Cultural Sector’) project. The programme is being delivered in partnership with other European cultural institutions through the British Council’s membership of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) network . The aim of the programme is to promote Tunisian cultural diversity and access to culture at local, national and international level, as well as to encourage freedom of expression and creation, especially among younger generations. Additionally, this initiative strives to promote the professionalisation of culture by building the capacity of cultural operators and creating more opportunities for cultural participation.
Over the course of three years, the project’s activities will support a series of new initiatives aimed at increasing young people’s access to culture, building the skills of those working in the sector, and developing and delivering activities and technical assistance to support Tunisia’s Ministry of Culture.
‘Appui au Renforcement du Secteur Culturel Tunisien’ is, in many ways, a pioneering project for the British Council and the European Union. Nigel Bellingham, the British Council’s Country Director in Tunisia, describes it not only as one of the first contracts for both bodies that combine culture and development, but as “by far the most significant EUNIC programme to date anywhere in the world”.
On May 24 2016, a round table meeting was held around the topic ‘Let’s talk culture - Parlons Culture – نحـكــيو ثـقــافــة’ to mark the project’s startup. Attended by over 100 representatives and leaders from the local arts and culture community, the event was opened by Sonia M’barek, the Tunisian Minister of Culture; Christian Danielsson, the European Commission Director-General for EU Neighbourhood & Enlargement; Nick Westcott, Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the European External Action Service; and Nigel Belligham, the British Council’s Country Director in Tunisia.
The opening speeches confirmed that the project plays a central role in Tunisia’s social and economic sectors and will promote a local collaborative approach, thereby contributing to the emergence of a cultural and social ecosystem in which all stakeholders (citizens, civil society, the private sector and public institutions) are involved and can contribute actively.
 EUNIC Tunisia is a network of National Institutes for Culture from the member states of the European Union in Tunisia, which aims to contribute to cultural diversity inside and outside of the EU and to strengthen cultural dialogue and exchange. The British Council is currently chairing the EUNIC network in Tunisia.