Vienna, 7 October 2013 Press release

The city as a museum – public space in the cultural-political discourse of the Arab Spring countries

Workshop of the Foreign Ministry and Museumsakademie Graz for employees of the major museums of the Southern Mediterranean in Tunis.

Vienna, 4 October 2013 – In cooperation with the Museumsakademie Joanneum in Graz and the Centre National d’Art Vivant, Belvédère in Tunis, the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs organised a workshop entitled "Outreach – The City as a Museum" in Tunis from 30 September until 4 October 2013, open to senior staff of leading museums as well as artists from Southern Mediterranean countries. On the occasion of the successful presentation of the results of this workshop in Tunis on 4 October 2013, Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger emphasised the important role that culture plays in Austrian foreign policy to support the transformation process in the countries of the Arab Spring: "Cultural encounters harbour a considerable potential for conflict resolution and problem-solving that we want to tap into, utilising the creative potential of both cultural actors and civil society at large."

In the light of recent developments in the Arab world, where public spaces are increasingly being used as platforms to exercise freedom of opinion, workshop participants from Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia investigated the joint functions of a museum in its classic sense and of public space for a society. Streets, squares, even whole districts as a collection of identity-creating objects, and thus “museums” in public space, were examined as places of communication and integration and presented in a joint project in the historic centre of Tunis. "By presenting public space as a place for societal participation, the workshop in Tunis has sent out a visible signal to strengthen freedom of opinion", Vice-Chancellor Spindelegger concluded.

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