Morocco’s Culture Minister Responds to Critics of Artist Support Program


Morocco’s Minister of Culture, Othman El Ferdaous, has shared a publication to clarify some aspects of the controversy the recent financial support program for artists has caused.

The Ministry of Culture shared the list of the program’s beneficiaries on Monday. The list included 459 artistic projects to benefit from an overall aid program of MAD 39 million ($4.21 million).

The support program, however, according to critics, neglected artists that need financial aid the most amid Morocco’s COVID-19 crisis.

Among the artists who criticized the program are Moroccan singers Latifa Raafat and Hayat El Idrissi. Raafat called on the ministry to protect artists who do not have social security.

Iconic Moroccan singer Nouamane Lahlou, who was among the list of beneficiaries, decided to give up his right to the financial aid and donate it to Morocco’s COVID-19 special fund.

In his publication on Thursday morning, Minister El Ferdaous answered some critical questions and pledged that his department will soon begin working on generalized social security, which would benefit all artists in Morocco.

El Ferdaous explained that before the Ministry of Culture announced its program to support artists and their projects, more than 3,700 creators affected by the COVID-19 crisis received financial aid from Morocco’s COVID-19 special fund.

The initial financial aid benefited Moroccans who have artist cards and 70% of the applications received positive answers, the minister said.

Selection process criteria

Regarding the recent support program, Morocco’s Ministry of Culture has put two main selection criteria to ensure the financial aid goes to artists who need it the most.

The first condition is prioritizing artistic projects that involve a large number of artists who do not have other sources of income. The selected theatre and musical projects include, on average, 10 participants per project, the minister explained.

In total, 2,400 Moroccan artists will benefit from the aid given to 459 artistic projects.

The second criterion is prioritizing artists who did not receive aid from Morocco in 2019. According to El Ferdaous, 80% of the 459 selected projects did not receive financial support last year.

The minister also highlighted the increased overall budget for the support program. This year’s budget is 30% larger than that of 2019.

The number of beneficiary projects also tripled from 2019 to 2020, increasing from 155 projects to 459.

Despite the clarifications, Morocco’s culture minister admitted that there is still room to improve the support program for artists and expressed his department’s openness to receive constructive criticism.

He also pledged to begin working on generalizing social security for all artists in Morocco, in accordance with King Mohammed VI’s directives in his 2020 Throne Day speech.

On July 29, the King said that in five years, all Moroccans must benefit from social security, including medical insurance and other social allowances.