Staging the Franco-Algerian relationship: AHRC project receives national coverage and raises over £600,000 for the local economy

Award Information

AHRC ref: AH/F011431/1
Discipline: Modern Languages (Within Languages and Literature)
Funding opportunity: Research Grant - Early Career
Areas of Impact: Museums and Collections; Policy influence
Lead RO: The University of Manchester
Region: North East

An AHRC-funded project has led to an exhibition in Manchester which was attended by nearly 15,000 visitors, contributed over £600,000  to the local economy and received national coverage in the media.

The project, led by researchers Dr Joseph McGonagle and Professor Edward Welch, emphasised the role of visual art in shaping understanding of the relationship between France and Algeria since the time of the Algerian war. As part of this, they organised an exhibition (New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK) at the Cornerhouse Gallery in Manchester.

This exhibition, set against the backdrop of civil unrest and social turmoil in Algeria, was extremely successful. According to the Programme and Engagement Director of the gallery, the exhibition ‘had a profound effect on attitudes and understanding across different cultures’.

'New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK' exhibit
Geo-political art at the 'New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK' exhibit. Copyright: Joseph McGonagle

The exhibition also received coverage in the national media. A review in The Guardian (April 2011, circulation 263,907) stated that, following the events of the Arab Spring, the exhibition ‘could hardly be more timely’. This statement was mirrored by the Artistic Assessment commissioned by the Arts Council England.  The national interest of this exhibition was shown when an interview with two of the featured artists was broadcast on ‘The Strand’ on the BBC World Service (estimated audience 40 million worldwide).

'New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK' exhibit
Geo-political art at the 'New Cartographies: Algeria-France-UK' exhibit. Copyright: Joseph McGonagle

Finally, the exhibition had an indirect political impact when there were visa issues with one of the Algerian artists involved in the exhibition. His case became part of a campaign to ease visa restrictions on foreign artists visiting Britain, supported by leading figures in the Arts as well as Zineb Sedira, one of the artists taking part in the exhibition. This had policy impact as the immigration minister announced that he would legislate in this area to allow talented artists to enter the UK more easily, and his speech in 2012 highlights the changes that have been made.

Gateway to Research Project Links: Post-Colonial Negotiations: Visualising the Franco-Algerian Relationship in the Post-War Period, Sep 08 - Dec 11