One of the many, many great things about art: cultural diplomacy.
NPR’s Morning Edition ran a story about a funding model for arts management used by the United States that is, well, a little unheard of in countries like Cambodia and Zanzibar. As Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser explains, the United States “developed this private philanthropy model because of a separation of art and state that really emerged from the Puritans who thought that music and dance were evil.”
Representatives from the global art world have been meeting in D.C. for this exact type of training. What propels these meetings beyond simple marketing strategies- which they do discuss- is how to make these tools applicable in countries that are dealing with things like social unrest, violence, and political turmoil.
From the article: “Patrick Jude-Oteh runs a theater company in Jos, Nigeria. He says he had his doubts when he first heard Michael Kaiser teach. “I thought, ‘This cannot work in my environment. The environment is too volatile,’” Jude-Oteh says.
But now that he’s just completed his third summer as a Kennedy Center fellow, Jude-Oteh has changed his tune. He says one of the most important things he’s learned is to communicate directly with his audience.
“You get them involved in what you are doing,” he says. “The more people get excited, the more people are happy to be associated with you and that’s what has happened.”
Another fellow, Reem Kassem from Alexandria, Egypt recently did the unthinkable. Last February, a month after thousands of protesters clashed violently with police, Kassem organized an outdoor arts festival with dancers, musicians and workshops for children.
“It wouldn’t have gone without the new political situation in the country,” Kassem says. Under the old regime, she says, collective gatherings on the streets were prohibited.
During her summer at the Kennedy Center, Kassem was able to share the story with — and get help from — other fellows from all over the world. The director of a dance organization in the U.K., for example, suggested she ask wealthy Egyptians living in London or New York for support.
Kassem says she’ll return to Egypt equipped with a strategic plan to make the outdoor festival — called “Start With Yourself” — an annual event. “And I will come back [to Washington] next year with more questions,” she says.”
Read the entire article here: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139240605/world-art-managers-find-new-funding-models-in-d-c