Artists mobility & dignity

by - 6:31 PM

Visa schengen procedure is something I find frustrating when i'm invited to European events, like Maria daif General director L’UZine,and many other culture ambassadors,I stopped accepting to take part in many events inside schengen territory, because it kills our dignity,make us lose our time,money and ambition to build artistic connections between the two cultures.
here is her letter that i find important to share,this issue is one of the main obstacles for artists:
"Yesterday, seven moroccan dancers and choreographers were gathered by Moussem Cities Festival in Brussels to share their experience, success, challenges and dreams about practicing and promoting contemporary dance in #Casablanca.
I was supposed to facilite the talk. I did not make it because i did not go to Brussels, even L'Uzine and Tazi Fundation are in a partnership with the event.
I sent the organizers the letter below to explain the boycott.
I really thank my friend and cultural operator Khadija El Bennaoui who facilited the talk instead of me and shared the letter.
I thank Mohamed Ikoubaan and Patrick de Coster for their understanding and support.
Feel free to share the letter  if you believe as us that the #mobility issue is one of the main obstacles for artists, whom the #freedom of #mouvement is an inherent part of their work.
Dear friends,
It is with great regret that I must tell you that I have decided not to join you in Brussels for Temps Fort Casablanca à Moussem. I apologize for any inconvenience my absence may cause.
As Director of the Tazi Foundation and Uzine, I am honoured to be one of your partners. It is however very difficult for me to accept the conditions under which the European authorities allow us (that is, mostly don’t allow us) to cross their borders.
All week, we haven’t stopped talking about Schengen visas – mine and those of artist friends going to Brussels, Paris or Cannes. All week, we have been debating on the ever-more complicated issue of mobility between Morocco and Europe. All week, we have been hearing news of visas being denied to artists and journalists, of short stay permits being doled out in smaller and smaller numbers, and of repeated interventions being made (yes, we’ve reached that point) to get artists across the border, so that they may work, share with their peers, bear witness to current events, tell their stories, connect.
I accepted Moussem’s invitation because we are partners and because I consider it my duty to honour our partnership and participate in this beautiful tribute to the city and its creation.
I duly completed all the absurd procedures that are systematically asked of us every time we apply for a visa, even as the length of the stays we are granted gets shorter and shorter.
After a Kafkaesque process of which I will spare you the details, today, I picked up my passport at the Belgian consulate. Sorry, let me rephrase: from behind the bars that guard the Belgian consulate.
8 days and a single entry (with a single round-trip allowed). That is the duration of the visa that was granted to me: the exact length of my stay in Belgium, as stipulated in Moussem’s invitation letter.
For 20 years, I have watched the Schengen visa regulations get tighter and tighter. I have twenty or so of these visas on my two passports, all of which I have honoured. In most cases, I was invited by European cultural institutions – institutions with which I was only too happy to collaborate and to share my experience, my contacts and my knowledge of the Moroccan arts and culture scenes. I did so first as a journalist and then as a cultural operator.
There was a time when Schengen Europe wasn’t the fortress that it is today. I don’t feel at home in this fortress anymore. The guards who stand at its walls wrote me a clear message on my passport: do your work and go home. 24 hours late, and you’ll be illegal.
Allow me to accept neither this “welcome” nor this threat, not to mention the gross lack of consideration that began (again) as soon as I started the visa procedures for this trip and was asked, for the umpteenth time, to answer all the same questions and justify everything in my application, all the way back to my first paycheque from 20 years ago. For the umpteenth time.
It makes me sad to say so, but that is why I won’t be with you, my dear friends.
Let me stress that Moroccan cultural workers’ freedom of movement in Europe has become dangerously limited. It has been drastically reduced even as the ratified conventions continue to affirm Europe’s support for the mobility of these same artists and cultural workers. Europe pledges its support in acknowledgment of the bridges we build, the ambassadorship we offer for our respective cultures, the values of sharing and exchange we embody, and the conversations we initiate – conversations that are infinitely richer than the simplistic discourse we hear from politicians and are indeed much more useful in these dark times. All of which goes to underscore the importance of the wonderful event that is Moussem Casablanca.
But how can Casablanca be in Brussels if we, artists and cultural workers, are not welcome there?
In friendship.
Maria Daïf, General director L’UZine

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