Go Deeper

Other Blogs: Models and Trends in International Arts Exchange

Posted March 31st, 2014

International arts exchanges have been around for a while–how will they continue in the future? Alicia Akins, a former international arts exchanger, notes the interesting history of such programs, and their ties to government(s) as a vehicle for “cultural understanding” often between  nations that don’t particularly like each other. She recently posted her article “Models and Trends in International Arts Exchange” on Akins writes, “International cultural exchange’s long history is intertwined with the history of trade and conflict. Since the end of World War II, formal exchange initiatives and policies in the United States have been directly tied to the prevention of and recovery from international conflict.”

Of course, it’s not just history, as conflicts proliferate today, along with stunning ignorance, and it is fascinating how artists, who are often viewed with political suspicion–or at least kept at arms’ length–by their own governments, become a sort of last resort ambassador for international understanding. For this article, Akins is most interested in spurring the discussion about how these programs can be effectively structured and how organizations can maintain this work, and how do institutions collaborate from one country to another.

She quotes Yo-Yo Ma, “We all feel we’re better musicians as a result of the Silk Road Project. We were taken to musical areas we didn’t know well, and have widened our own musical worlds. We have more tools with which to express ourselves. Most importantly, I feel more human, more connected to others.”

This is the positive outcome: however, facilitating these exchanges is rarely easy, and it is important to consider not just the outcomes, but as Akins notes, the structures necessary to make these exchanges happen and have continued success. Read the article here.

–Lance Filo