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Med'Act

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The Euro-Mediterranean program MED'ACT financed by the European Community and piloted by the City of Bordeaux motivates the cities of Tunis, Venice, Jbeil-Byblos and Bordeaux to collaborate in the interest of the inter cultural Euro - Mediterranean dialogue. Being a factor of sustainable development of cities, the cultural cooperation launched by these 4 partners pushes each of the cites to work with the 3 others on a local structuring or event project allowing the creation of all sorts of exchange based on a common cultural reflection and action.

I - GENERAL ORGANIZATION

Programming:

Since the planning of the MED' ACT program, the objective of Byblos project, within the framework of "patrimony, culture and city "was to carry out in Jbeil a durable institution, not limited to a demonstration or an event, but  operational throughout the year.

The main idea of the tourist information and reception center and the workshop of the center of art craft, their statute and their financial and operational mode, were discussed and adopted during the meetings devoted to the drafting of project MED' ACT of the “euro cities” within the framework of the partnership with euromed that had assembled Mrs. Sonia Dubourg Lavroff representative of the town of Bordeaux and Me Raphael Sfeir, president of the municipality of Jbeil, which had taken place in Paris in November 2001.


The first preparation stay took place in September 2003, during the Euromed- Eurocities meeting in Byblos. A large email correspondence had already allowed a more precise formulation of the structuring axes for 2 projects, the Center for Touristic hosting and the Center of Arts professions. The precision of these definitions allowed to perfect the global budget of the project and submit a request of endorsement to the European Community. The pilot project is based on 3 Jbeil personalities particularly active and efficient : Latifee Lakkis (chair of the Byblos International Festival), Guzin Jean-Louis Cardahi (General Secretary Of Byblos International Festival) and naturally Raphael Sfeir (Mayor of Byblos).

The center for touristic hosting:

Works started beginning of January while the staff was undergoing training (Maya and Jinane)… The aim was to make the quarters operational at the outset of the touristic season and naturally to complete the restoration for the inauguration. This restoration is in line with the legal constraints applied to old buildings as to material used as well as interior and exterior architecture. It is part of the rehabilitation program of the ancient medina which sets this building at the center of the pedestrian sector of the city.

Besides the MED'ACT program and the city of Byblos, official partners are: UNESCO, APSAD (Association for the protection of Sites and Old Residences in Lebanon), the Directorate General of Antiquities, the Ministry of Tourism, the technical office for Lebanese cities and the association of the Byblos International Festival. This project has been unanimously recognized by neighboring regions (Batroun and Kesrouan) as well as nearby localities as representing cultural and touristic potentials such as:

  • Archeology: Faqra, Nahr El Kalb, Machnaka, …
  • Natural sites: Jeita, Haqel-Hjoula, …
  • Pilgrimage destinations: Harissa, Annaya, Kfifane, …
  • Craftsmanship: Amchit, Asiya, Rachana, …
  • And open air activities such as skiing, hiking, diving, caving, paragliding …

The mentioned objectives have motivated them to collaborate with Byblos in order to benefit from this initiative thus valorizing and determining their respective capacities. The center for touristic hosting seems then as a location from where tourism of all regions may shine. As of February, research on presentation documents had been launched for existing documents as well as for the elaboration of new brochures. Moreover, the first quotes for furniture and IT equipment have been called for.

The center for Arts professions:

- Statute:
The detailed objective of this space gave way to the elaboration of a "statute" describing with precision the functioning of the center (see annex 3). Contact has been made with craftsmen capable of intervening, along with artists, in order to have them settle or return to Byblos. Visits and discussions helped in explaining to craftsmen the interest of this step and the importance of a new launch of creation; the remuneration of production hours during this temporary association with artists was underlined in such a way that this partnership was, at the same time, a valorization of their competences and training. The end objective was to create a strong demand from craftsmen and artists and to select only the best. A place of production, exposition and training, the center should become a reference regarding the meeting of the best skills and creation.

- Set up :
Regarding rehabilitation work and given the intrinsic qualities of the place, it was decided that priority should be given to restoration of the Center for touristic hosting ; work of set up (cleaning and painting) was programmed for the center of arts professions in view of hosting the first exhibits.

- Invited artists :
In order to set a plan for the interventions, partner cities were immediately alerted of the opportunity and direct contacts took place with artists-designers, in particular Enzo Tinarelli (Mosaist), Desart Concept ( creator of contemporary jewelry), Emmanuel Babled (glass ceramics artist), Anne Xiradakis (designer in the Art of the table), Aline Ribière (textile visual artist)…Given the deadlines and despite multiple organization attempts for agendas proving the real interest given to the proposition, only 2 workshops were possible. The only obstacle preventing other artists was their availability. Contacts are still taking place for interventions outside MEd'Act.

Collaborations of artists-craftsmen:

Thus, only Descart Concept (Marie Caty and Guislain Ryckebusch) and Aline Ribière were able to respond positively within the required deadlines and dates i.e. the inauguration of the quarters and the International Festival; both events considered really legible for the wide public concerning the center's intentions.

Descarte Concept presented its work during the inauguration following a ten day cooperation with 2 young jewelers from Jbeil. Alline Ribière presented her work during the International Festival following a 20 day cooperation with a young tailor, George M Assaf and the help of an assistant and an interpreter.

These interventions took the form of exhibits, workshops, performances, crossed production and were the center of video tapes and newspaper articles (see annex).

The equipment, materials and fungibles necessary to the completion of the workshop were acquired by the center within the limits of the budget, such as a jeweler table, fabrics or tools for manufacturing oriental slippers and the set destined to making blown glass.

Communication :

The logo created by the City of Venice was reproduced on all communication documents related to the inauguration and information of the public: programs, bill boards, banderoles, bulletin boards … (see annex 4).

Al-Ourbou newspaper covered all of the events in French and Arabic. Copies were addressed to partner cities, Tunis in particular for the part written in Arabic (see annex 11). The inauguration benefited from a heavy support from the International Center of the Press and Media directed by Ibrahim El Sayat, responsible for a lot of press contacts (TV, as well as written and spoken).

Delegations:

The inauguration was conducted according to schedule. Numerous Lebanese personalities were present, in particular Mr. and Mrs Edde, patrons of the city, Mr. Gilles Germain from the French Embassy, and Mr. Joseph Kreidi from UNESCO. They were particularly interested in the pursuit of both projects beyond the deadlines within the frame of part 1 of phase 1 of MED'ACT.

The city of Bordeaux was represented by Mrs. Martine Moulin-Boudard, assistant mayor in charge of the program (see annex). Her intervention was broadcast by the media (TV, radio and written press).
The city of Tunis was not represented given the imminence of the colloquium to be held there (15th and 16th of April 2004). Similarly, for the city of Venice, due to issues of representation and internal reorganization of the services.

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