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Brademas Center Cultural Diplomacy Project

Cultural Connections: Engaging Muslim-Majority Nations and the West

As part of its ongoing Project on Cultural Diplomacy, the Brademas Center proposes a conference at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center to bring together practitioners in the field of international cultural activity to examine the opportunities and challenges of engagement between the Western and Islamic Worlds.

Participants from cultural institutions and organizations in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia will discuss the international programs and exchanges they have organized; the challenges and problems they've encountered; their successes; and ways in which the private sector and government interact to enable this work. This practical perspective offers a chance to better understand the networks and circuits which exist across the globe facilitating cultural engagement – how they developed, how they work, and ways in which art and artists enter into the flow.

Recent Reporting

  • US Cultural Engagement with Global Muslim Communities: Contours and Connections in an Emerging Field - At the October 2013 conference "Cultural Connections: Engaging Muslim-Majority Nations and the West," held by New York University's Brademas Center, discussions about the state of the field centered on the idea of "global circuits." Participants suggested that practitioners, both independent and rooted in organizations, formed networks of connection through which art and artists flow, ranging from very informal and casual — in which practitioners may not have even met but share a common source of funding or presentation — to the most deliberate and formal. Likewise, participants emphasized the large degree of variation in programs, venue types, and disciplines, ranging from traditional to contemporary and hybrid forms, present in the field. This research provides strong arguments and preliminary insights into ways that culture can advance engagement across boundaries, both geographic and societal. But the most challenging efforts may be those intended to connect the United States to Muslim populations abroad. Download the FULL REPORT and CONFERENCE REPORT.

Preceeding Reports

  • Moving Forward: A Renewed Roll for American Arts and Artists in the Global Age - In January 2009, the John Brademas Center of the NYU Wagner convened a group of experts to explore the public policy implications for American arts and culture of a renewed focus on U.S. public diplomacy and issued a call for an expansion of international arts and cultural exchanges in the service of this new direction. This report is the result of their expert opinions and deliberations.

  • Cultural Diplomacy: does it work? - A diverse group had assembled, with the co-sponsorship of the Ditchley Foundation, to analyse what cultural diplomacy could offer in today's world, the balance between promotion of national interest and increasing international understanding, and whether it could really work in helping to foster mutual engagement between different peoples.

Conference Information

Analysis and sharing on-the-ground experiences among participants will offer concrete counsel for policymakers, funders, cultural organizations and artists themselves to broaden exchanges between the West and the Islamic World.

Given the host of challenges pressing on the relationship between Muslim and Western states – from security to energy, trade to tourism, environmental issues to belief structures – greater cultural understanding across societies is critical today. Through exploration of activity and networks and analyses of their functioning, we hope to encourage more and better engagement and contact.




"Artists engage in cross-cultural exchange not to proselytize about their own values but rather to understand different cultural traditions, to find new sources of imaginative inspiration, to discover new methods and ways of working and to be influenced rather then to influence"

- Joan Channick, Managing Director of Theatre Communications Group

Cultural Diplomacy

The Project on Cultural Diplomacy, organized by New York University's John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress, engages artists, foundation and cultural institution leaders, scholars and policymakers in this effort. The Project is working to enhance visibility and resources for America's international cultural engagement in the cause of peace, economic growth and stability, and mutual understanding, respect, and tolerance. The goal is an expansion of exchange programs and structural reforms to foster better strategic planning, coordination, and implementation by the Federal Government and American citizens of this critical component of our relations with the governments and peoples of other countries. The Project has been on-going since it's inception in 2009.

Symposium Supporters

A special thanks to the following organizations for their support:

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