I’m excited to be leaving Thursday for NYC to speak at a forum at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference in New York on Saturday. The forum is part of an International Global Cultural Exchange co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

The program seeks to provide professional development opportunities to emerging performing artists, managers and presenters between the ages of 19-30 from developing countries, in this case seven performing arts presenters from Russia, Palestine, Syria and Pakistan. They will be in New York to meeting with arts professionals from January 6 – 20, 2010.

The overall goal of the Cultural Visitors program is to energize the work of emerging international artists, presenters and managers in their own countries by bringing them to the United States and providing them with:

  • Instructive and informative experiences in their arts discipline
  • Exposure to the creation and performance of world-class American art,
  • Opportunities to develop relationships with U.S. arts professionals.

After a week in New York, they will go on to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. All of the participants have some background and work experience in the performing arts. They have expressed interest in learning more about best practices of and challenges facing U.S. presenters, development and management of new works and festivals, marketing and promotions initiatives and advocacy.

The arts confer on its initiates a shared language and ethos that transcend national boundaries and any narrow sense of contemporary tribalism. Those lucky enough to participate are imbued from a young age with a respect for other cultures and for new kinds of creativity and expression.

The arts and culture are the ultimate response to the nihilism of militant extremism and extreme militarism. The State Department should be commended for the initiative and urged to undertake more such exchanges, fostering international understanding and worldwide support for peaceful forms of free expression. I’m honoured to be one of many chosen to take part.