Connecting Through Culture


Increased activity and interest in international cultural communication characterize our time. There is an inevitability to this, given the ubiquity and reach of the internet, the easy availability of film and media images, the speed with which ideas and influences travel. It is also true that international cultural circuits are well developed. From film and performance festivals to traveling exhibitions, from traditional stages to streets and public spaces, from established to unexpected platforms and formats, artists today have a global reach.

With the opportunities that technology and other circuits provide, there is also a growing sense of the importance, the urgency, of cultural connections. Culture and the arts, cultural interpreters, contemporary makers, and creative ventures have a fresh relevance, inspiring currents of understanding and engagement globally. As peoples strive to express their values and aspirations, their cultures, to each other, geo-cultural forces become significant.  


NYU Vanderbilt Hall

Forum: Making the Case for International Exchange

NYU School of Law - 2017 - The Asian Cultural Council and the NYU John Brademas Center have histories of supporting international cultural mobility and reach. In response to contemporary challenges, these institutions, with the support of The Henry Luce Foundation, convened a two-day forum for funders and practitioners experienced in cultural exchange. The forum examined the importance of renewing and extending opportunities for American artists and cultural professionals to engage internationally, and considered lessons from the past, best practices, and present day arguments for a fresh, international cultural mandate.

NYU Vanderbilt Hall

Addressing Islamophobia: The Roles of Arts and Culture 

NYU School of Law - 2017 - This day-long funders briefing on “Addressing Islamophobia in America: The Roles of Art and Culture,”  was organized by ArtPlace America, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the Ford Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the New York Foundation, and the John Brademas Center of New York University. The partner institutions built on the work of an earlier conference at the Ford Foundation in 2016 on “Confronting Islamophobia in America Today.”

Villa La Pietra Convening

The West and Global Muslim Communities: Connecting Through Culture

NYU's Villa La Pietra - 2015 - This conference examined cultural connections in a specific contemporary context — the pressing need of Western societies and global Muslim communities to comprehend each other and communicate with each other. The conference aimed to identify ideas for increasing and improving the ways this work can be done. The discussion built on the findings of an earlier meeting of practitioners in this work, “U.S. Cultural Engagement with Global Muslim Communities” held at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in the fall of 2013. 


Bellagio Conference

Cultural Connections: Engaging Muslim-Majority Nations and the West

Rockefeller's Bellagio Center - 2013 - This conference offered 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.  

Ditchley Foundation

Cultural Diplomacy: Does it Work?

Ditchley Foundation - 2012 - This conference assembled a diverse group, with the co-sponsorship of the Brademas Center and the Ditchley Foundation, to analyze what cultural diplomacy could offer in today's world. The group looked at the balance of promotion of national interest and increasing international understanding, to see if it could really work in helping to foster mutual engagement between different peoples.

NYU Wagner Puck Building

A Renewed Role for American Arts and Artists in the Global Age

NYU Wagner - 2009 - The Brademas Center and 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. The Center issued a report outlining the opinions and deliberations of the participating experts.

As part of its ongoing project on cultural connectivity, the Brademas Center has convened several international conferences to bring together artists, foundation and cultural institution leaders, scholars and policymakers to examine the opportunities and challenges of engagement between the Western and Muslim-Majority Communities.

The Center is working to enhance visibility and resources for 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 foundations and governments. The project has been ongoing since 2009.

Given the host of challenges pressing on the relationship between Muslim-Majority Communities 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 in the field, the Brademas Center, with its various partners, seeks new opportunities to advance and encourage cultural exchange.