The role of Arts and Culture in International Relations and Diplomacy

EU — US Perspectives

February 3rd, 2015, New York City

[This is an excerpt from my presentation at the EU Delegation to the United Nations on the role of arts and culture].

It is a great pleasure to be with you here today. As the head of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in New York, I am delighted to welcome you all to our 41st official EUNIC Forum.

I want to thank the EU Delegation to the United Nations for hosting us and making this event possible.

I hope you’ll agree with me that the Delegation in New York is a fitting venue to gather and explore the unique role art and culture plays in international relations and diplomacy, as a form of exchange to build trust, increase familiarity, and create positive perceptions between peoples and nations.

If I may, I would like to say a few words about the recent events in Paris. The tragic events at Charlie Hebdo highlights the need for cultural understanding in our societies. I stand in solidarity with our colleagues and friends from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Like many others around the globe, people in the arts are contemplating the complex issue of free speech and the rights of artists to create freely. In the words of John F. Kennedy: “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.”

We are at a crucial time, as globalization gets more refined, from Paris to New York and across the world people crave new and innovative ideas, and the contributions that art and culture can bring to global development, economic growth, to education, to supporting democracy and to strengthening our communities.
Great art and culture at its best, opens our imagination, develops a critical mind and helps us to understand and accept our differences. And although the impact of art and culture may not be easily measured, the lack of it always can.

The success of this event is built on your involvement in the months and years to come. I hope that the discussions that take place, and the ideas that are shared go on to enrich your work. I am committed to work in partnership with you, I welcome your views and ideas, and I’m at your disposal to continue our dialogue and collaboration.

Thank you,

February 3rd, 2015. EU Delegation to the United Nations, New York.

This article was originally published on the >> EUNIC website

Photography: Viktorija Juodenaite