The national body charged with the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is the Directorate of Cultural Heritage in the Ministry of Culture, which undertakes the inventorying, safeguarding and enhancement of all aspects of national cultural heritage. The Directorate for Arts in the same ministry is also involved in promoting performance arts and organizing festivals and events. Several other State actors (ministerial departments, research institutes such as the Institut royal de la culture amazighe (IRCAM, Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture), specialist centres, universities etc.) and non-governmental organizations are also involved in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
A draft Law on the Management of Cultural Heritage contains nine articles on intangible cultural heritage; it is primarily concerned with the terms of the conception of intangible elements and their safeguarding. The year 2012 saw the adoption of a national heritage strategy entitled ‘Heritage 2020’, which is dedicated especially to the promotion of heritage festivals, and the encouragement of mechanisms for disseminating information and knowledge, etc.
The main institution for training in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is the Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine (INSAP, National Institute of Sciences of Archaeology and Heritage), which teaches both cultural resource and heritage safeguarding as well as the disciplines of anthropology and archaeology. Several universities also offer Master’s degrees in cultural heritage safeguarding that include intangible cultural heritage, and institutes for training in tourism professions also include modules on intangible cultural heritage. National non-governmental organizations also contribute to strengthening the capacities of a number of actors through their annual action plans, especially the Alumni Association of INSAP.
INSAP has gathered a large amount of intangible cultural heritage-related documentation over the years, which is held at its Library. In addition, the Division de l’inventaire et de la documentation du patrimoine (DIDP, Division for Inventorying and Documentation of Heritage) manages a Documentation Centre and a photo archive which contains nearly a century’s worth of documentation on cultural heritage, much of which is intangible. The DIDP is currently digitizing this archive both to safeguard it and to make it available online to researchers and the public. This has been undertaken through a joint cooperative programme entitled ‘Cultural heritage and creative industries as a vehicle for development in Morocco’. This programme is jointly implemented by the Ministry of Culture and the UNESCO Office in Rabat, with financing from Spain. IRCAM was established in 2001 to conduct research on Amazigh culture and has gathered documentation over a ten-year period. Other public institutions with important documentation on intangible cultural heritage are national TV channels and the Moroccan Cinematic Institute; several national and local non-governmental organizations also hold important intangible cultural heritage documentation.
Inventorying in Morocco is carried out in an integrated system that covers all heritage, both tangible and intangible; one of its four inventory lists is dedicated to intangible cultural heritage, entitled the List of Intangible Heritage. This is in the process of being developed, with 64 inventory files having been created thus far. The DIDP is the body that administers the inventorying process and, in 2010, a computer system was set up to allow for the easy management of the inventory data and for open public consultation. In addition, information is gathered in the field by other bodies, both governmental (IRCAM) and non-governmental, such as the Association de Développement de la Vallée de Draâ (ADEDRA, the Association for Development of the Draa Valley).
The main criteria for inscription are that the element presents an undeniable interest for the continuity and the transmission of the culture, identity, memory and historical personality of Moroccans. On the ground, the main criterion is that it is initially proposed by the community that regards it as forming part of its cultural heritage and identity. In cases where the DIDP is responsible for inventorying (on the basis of a topographic or thematic programme), the main criterion is the vulnerability of the intangible cultural heritage within a specific region, for example due to profound changes that could affect the viability of intangible cultural heritage elements. Hence, viability is taken into account and field missions by the DIDP are often undertaken in rural areas where heritage remains vital and yet faces great challenges.
In addition to pre-existing data (from research projects, fieldwork etc.), current information is collected through an inventory form that requires a particular set of information and completed by photographic and audio-visual recording. The methodology for this operation was set out in 2008 in an inventory manual developed by the DIDP (for heritage in general) and, later, by a manual developed in 2010 (for intangible cultural heritage in particular). The final step is entering the information on the forms in a digital inventory; there is no specific approach for updating the inventory but this computerized system allows for easy revision and additions and updating may occur as a result of new information discovered during the course of fieldwork. During inventorying and research activities, the customary practices of cultural communities are respected in a systematic manner; equally, communities may also observe their customary rules in relation to festivals, exhibitions and other promotional activities.
Efforts to promote the function of intangible cultural heritage in society are reflected by the fact that State and local authorities sometimes take the cultural component into account in developing planning programmes, to encourage local development and safeguard those traditions and elements that reflect local social and cultural originality. A large number of community associations attached to the notion of sustainable development have taken responsibility for revitalizing local cultural and heritage values and harnessing them for programmes geared at stimulating local economic resources in order to achieve improved living conditions. State support for small, local tourism enterprises – in particular those aimed at cultural tourism – rests on heritage values as tourism products; they benefit from the returns to undertake supplementary actions for safeguarding and revitalizing the heritage in question.
As far as education is concerned, the establishment of IRCAM (in 2001) and the official recognition of the Amazigh (Berber) language in 2011 and its inclusion in the school curriculum have greatly contributed to safeguarding the Berber language and culture which was, in many aspects, under threat of disappearance. The integration of intangible cultural heritage into school curricula has otherwise not been well-developed thus far, but other approaches allow for education in intangible cultural heritage. For example, the Department for Craftsmanship has established apprenticeship schemes for crafts professions with a long-term vision for revitalizing the knowledge and know-how linked to handicrafts and other intangible cultural heritage-related professions. In 2012, an Académie des Arts traditionnels (Academy of Traditional Arts) was opened in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. This was aimed at continuing the practice of traditional professions among youth, through academic teaching. Festivals and other such festive events and rituals are privileged spaces where young children learn from their parents, by imitation, about aspects of their community’s intangible cultural heritage (e.g. performing arts).
Other measures to ensure the recognition of, respect for and enhancement of intangible cultural heritage take the form of festivals and exhibitions organized locally and nationally. Various services of the Ministry of Culture organize awareness-raising campaigns. These occur in particular during Heritage Months (celebrated annually in April and May), when a major programme of seminars and conferences etc. is arranged in each administrative region and often includes activities aimed specifically at schools. An extremely influential television programme entitled ‘Professions in My Country’ aims both to raise awareness among the population about the cultural, identity and commercial importance of national crafts and to contribute to their safeguarding in a creative manner.
Morocco reports here on four elements on the Representative List: the Cultural space of Jamaa el-Fna Square (incorporated in 2008, after being proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001); the Moussem of Tan-Tan (also incorporated in 2008, after its proclamation as a Masterpiece in 2005); Falconry, a living human heritage (2010 and 2012) (a multinational element with United Arab Emirates, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Syrian Arab Republic); and the Mediterranean diet (2010) (a multinational element with Greece, Italy and Spain). In all cases, the substantial media coverage of inscription has greatly increased the visibility not only of the elements themselves but also of intangible cultural heritage in general.
In the case of the Jemaa el-Fna, for instance, it has raised awareness of the cultural and historic importance of the space (for locals and overseas visitors) and stimulated the practitioners to continue to enact their intangible cultural heritage in place. Live music, entertainment and playful demonstrations continue to attract new practitioners who sometimes come from other parts of the world. At the same time, the number of storytellers has continued to decline. However, inscription may also have negative results. For example, for the Jemaa el-Fna it has raised concerns about the ‘folklorization’ of the Square, the negative impacts of tourism (and a progressive loss of authenticity), changes in attitudes among young people, the expansion of commercial activities, etc.
The Moussem of Tan-Tan gatherings provide the authorities and non-governmental organizations with a privileged space in which to promote intangible cultural heritage and heritage values in everyday life and raise youth awareness. The event is also included in the development and related planning activities of the local authorities. The High Commissariat for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification regulates the practice of Falconry to bring it into line with ecological requirements while the falconry associations protect their members’ interests. The Ministry of Culture, together with the Municipal Council, have undertaken an inventory of the Mediterranean diet that will form the basis of a publicly accessible documentation centre in the town of Chefchaouen. For the preparation of the reports, communities have mostly participated as sources of information (e.g. through interviews with practitioners or with their associations) and as the subjects of field investigations. In the case of the multinational elements, the information was based on that gathered during the enlargement of the two multinational nominations in 2012.