Art as Cultural Diplomacy

About the Program

Introduction to the Program

Art can be instrumental in shaping the tone and nature of intercultural relations. It provides, on the one hand, a medium through which cultural heritage and identity can be experienced and interpreted. On the other hand, it can create a unique space for artists, audiences, and other stakeholders in cultural management to come together on a neutral platform.

Despite this influence, the use of art to raise awareness of different cultures, promote social cohesion, and strengthen intercultural relations, is the subject of little research and analysis, and is consistently undervalued. The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy has therefore created the program "Art as Cultural Diplomacy" to bridge this gap and provide a platform for interdisciplinary discussion and research on these issues by stakeholders from the artistic field, civil society, politics, diplomacy, and academia. The program conducts activity that explores the transformative role art can play in society, and therefore highlight future possibilities for its constructive use by artists, civil society organizations, and government actors.

Program Activity

"Art as Cultural Diplomacy: A Forum for Young Leaders" (ACD)

ACD brings together artists, civil society practitioners, students, and young professionals from around the world to explore the role of art in societal transformation. Regular weeklong study tours provide participants with an opportunity to take part in academic lectures, seminars, and workshops featuring experts from the field. These components are complemented by social and cultural activities that allow participants to expand their personal networks and experience the remarkable cultural landscape of a European capital.

Academic Conferences, Lectures, and Panel Discussions

In addition to the ACD young leaders forum, "Art as Cultural Diplomacy" also holds regular academic lectures, panel discussions, and conferences on themes related to the program goals. These events feature expert speakers from the artistic sector, politics, diplomacy, civil society, and academia, ensuring an interdisciplinary analysis of the issues under discussion.

Research and Analysis

The Art as Cultural Diplomacy program works to raise awareness of the transformative power of art, and supports academic research and analysis with the same aims. Research is conducted regularly by ICD staff, members of our international network, ICD Advisory Board members, and other partners. This research is then published online through the ICD website and, where appropriate, presented at our academic conferences.

Program Foundation

The "Art as Cultural Diplomacy" program is based on three guiding principles concerning the relationship between art and societies:

The Universality of Art

Art is an essential part of individual expression, and the process of being creative is one that is open to all, regardless of age, nationality, religious or political beliefs. The enjoyment and interpretation of art is also universal: because art appeals to human senses and emotions, it is not subject to the controls and restrictions of language and rhetoric. It is, as Goethe has pointed out, "the mediator of the inexpressible".

The Power of Art

Since everyone can partake in creating and enjoying art, it is a powerful tool that can be used to raise awareness and understanding of issues, promote dialogue, and establish bonds between individuals of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The shared experience of creating and experiencing art is one that can establish sincere human relationships; relationships that cannot be broken by the words or actions of others.

The Transformative Nature of Art

The universality and power of art, combined, ensure that it can engender change amongst individuals and communities. Precisely because art does not seek to persuade or convince, but rather to show and arouse emotions, it has the potential to influence the behavior of people to one another in a constructive manner. Whilst such changes are not inherently positive, they represent a valuable counter-balance to the divisive rhetoric of some leaders, and create a space for people to express and share their emotions freely.