Expanding Cultural Diplomacy

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

The U.S. State Department is partnering with the Bronx Museum of the Arts to send American artists to 15 foreign countries – including China, Egypt, India, Kosovo, Nigeria and Pakistan, among others – to serve as cultural ambassadors and collaborate with communities to create public art projects. Already, the State Department has several programs that send musicians and dancers abroad to perform, teach workshops and master classes, and work with local communities.

With success in these performing arts programs, the same concept is now being applied to the visual arts through a new pilot program known as smARTpowerSM. According to the State Department, “The [smARTpower] program will use art’s unique ability to bridge differences and create new lines of communication that bring people and cultures together.”

Although many of us arts supports already know how great the arts are at bringing people and cultures together (along with many other benefits), it’s always great to hear coming from the government – and not just talking about the value of the arts, but backing them as well. Specifically in the State Department, the 2001 budget for its cultural diplomacy programs (which includes more than just the arts) was $1.6 million and by 2010 had increased to $11.75 million, with a 40% increase in the budget occurring from 2009 to the current fiscal year.

While this budget is not expected to increase next year, I hope that the arts can continue to be a successful part of cultural diplomacy efforts.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/arts/design/26friends.html?_r=1

-Aubrey

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