With 400,000 inhabitants, Tétouan is the second largest economic hub in the Tanger-Tétouan-Al Hoceima region in Morocco. Craft activities date back to the foundation of the city in the 15th century. They still have an influence in the city itself through urban planning that establishes craft neighbourhoods encompassing Zellige, Taajira embroidery, encrusted and painted wood and wrought ironwork. Building on its Arab- Andalusian heritage, the arts and craftwork of Tétouan is set apart by a unique know-how perpetuated by its master-craftsmen and women. With nearly 6,000 craft units and over 150 young artisans joining the job market each year, the craft sector in Tétouan has an undeniable vitality.
Crafts are a unifying activity for communities, as well as being established as an active tertiary sector that has shown itself capable of renewal through the interest of artists and researchers. A number of local events in Tétouan, namely the craft forum Rencontres des artisans, offer a platform for public discussion on development of the sector. Each year on the fringes of the Women’s Voices International Music Festival, local crafts led by women are showcased at the pop-up event Marché au fil du temps.
As part of Tétouan’s Urban Development Programme, which seeks to restructure and upgrade under-equipped neighbourhoods, 8 libraries and three 3 local community spaces have been built, thereby providing unique venues to promote access to culture for all, notably for young people. In 2016, in the craft sector, Tétouan’s Municipality fostered and supported the creation of the federation of craft guilds, which provided considerable support to structure the sector and enable networking among its various actors. As part of the Regional Development Plan for Crafts, Tétouan benefited from a number of actions targeting infrastructure renewal, modernisation of production techniques in the weaving industry, and the consolidation of training bodies for craftwork.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Tétouan envisages:
- combining traditional know-how and conceptual capacity to energise research and development and promote creativity and innovation in craftwork through the creation of the Club des 3A, a training programme in architecture, craftwork and art;
- working towards the dissemination of know-how for the craft professions of Tétouan;
- consolidating cultural outreach through the organisation of a number of events such as Tétouan Craftwork Spring Festival, the Artistic Creativity Prize and the Tétouan Architecture Week;
- supporting the structuring of the local craft sector to improve contribution to the development of the social and solidarity economy through private/public sector partnerships, notably through the project to revitalise the leather work crafts of Tétouan; and
- organising a summer workshop around the theme of ‘Traditional Building in all its Dimensions’ to promote and disseminate craftwork professions linked to the restoration of old buildings, and open to students of other Creative Cities within the Network.