The Language of Art & Music

"A Three Piece Puzzle: The Relationship between Culture, International Relations and Globalization"

London; August 25th - 29th, 2011
Held Parallel to The Notting Hill Carnival 2011

Conference Reviews

Summary of Events:

Thursday, 25th August: On the first day, two main themes were tackled. The first strand of the day’s conversation and study looked at the impact of Cultural Diplomacy through the work of private organisations and foundations from around the world, such as Cultures in Harmony and the Zenith Foundation. The second prominent idea was that of governance and its role in pushing forward Cultural Diplomacy initiatives, stemming from insightful talks given by the Honourable Bill Cash MP and also the Ambassador of Colombia to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Ambassador Mauricio Rodriguez Munera. The panel discussion featuring artists and representatives from politics, academia and NGOs was particularly interesting for starting the process of weaving together all the different threads of the conference and beginning to form new innovative ideas on future approaches to Cultural Diplomacy.

Friday, 26th August: The timetable on the final day at Portcullis House (the British Parliament) focused on the political and governmental actions that are necessary in the promotion of Cultural Diplomacy. Questions on the topic of what a government’s actions or responsibilities towards Cultural Diplomacy should be were raised during lectures such as “Culture and Diplomacy: An Ambivalent Relationship” given by the Belgian Ambassador to the UK and possible solutions proposed in “Solving the Three-piece Puzzle: A Framework for Action” by Philip Fiske de Gouveia from the Foreign Policy Centre.

Saturday, 27th August: Saturday was one of the most diverse days of the Conference, bringing forward new innovative ideas to do with Cultural Diplomacy between Europe and Asia whilst at the same time promoting the use of the theatre and modern art as tools for Cultural Diplomacy through their respective focuses on language and the visual. The day at the beautiful Bulgarian Embassy concluded with a musical concert featuring traditional Spanish songs and a collection of Violin folk tunes from across the world. The vibrant mix of themes from different cultures and countries was a highlight of the Conference as it united the audience in appreciation of the performers’ skills and was a fitting contribution to the Conference’s aim of investigating the Arts as a form of Cultural Diplomacy.

Sunday, 28th August: At the London Jewish Cultural Centre, the morning’s lectures were based on alternative ways of promoting cohesive and functioning multicultural society through concepts such as religion, language and music. This led to interesting debates considering to what extent these areas can be used as constructive tools within Cultural Diplomacy, and how feasible it is to preserve one’s own culture without causing separatist friction in society on a local, national and international level. The day finished with a group excursion to the Notting Hill Carnival, a celebration of multiculturalism in London.

Monday, 29th August: The final day of the conference ended fittingly with group discussions and lectures that questioned the future for Cultural Diplomacy and the aims that it can strive for. Talks such as “Cultural Diplomacy - Where have we come from, Where are we now - and What next?” by John Holden, previously Head of Culture at Demos, left the participants contemplating the conclusions and ideas of the week and summed up the questioning and yet constructive approach that the Arts Conference and Young Leaders Forum undertook towards Cultural Diplomacy.

Conference Speakers

Alev Adil
Poet & Writer
Lecture & Discussion
Alexandra Büchler
Director, Literature Across Frontiers
“The Role of Independent Cultural Organizations in Fostering Intercultural Dialogue through Literature”

Dr. Antoine Bousque
Lecturer in International Relations, Department of Politics, School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London
“The Long Standing Globalization of Culture”

Atsuko Ichijo
Senior Researcher, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University
“Identity, Culture and Cultural Diplomacy in Europe - Case Study UK

The Hon. Bill Cash
Member of Parliament
Opening Lecture

Carla Figueira
Professor, Goldsmiths, University of London
“The Export of Language in Cultural Diplomacy”

Colin Ford
“A Three Piece Puzzle: The Relationship between Culture, International Relations and Globalization over the Next two Decades”

Daisy Cooper
Senior Strategic Planner at the Commonwealth Secretariat
“Can artists shape the future?”

Prof. François Nectoux
Professor of Contemporary European Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University
“A Cultural Diplomacy Model in Crisis: France in the Contemporary Global World”

Helen Glaisher-Hernández
Chairwoman, Iberian & Latin American Music Society
“Latin American 'Classical' Music: Still Under Colonial Rule?”

Jan van Weijen
Head of Culture, Public Diplomacy and Press, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
“A Global Culture of Cities and Social Media”

H.E. Amb. Johan Verbeke
Belgian Ambassador to the UK
“Culture and Diplomacy: an Ambivalent Relationship”

John Holden
Visiting Professor at City University, previously Head of Culture at Demos
“Cultural Diplomacy - Where Have We Come From, Where are We Now - and What Next?”

Joshua Abrams
Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Roehampton
“Multiplicitous Languages, Performed Understanding: Theatre’s Challenge to Globalised Culture(s)”
Judith Nesbitt
Head of National/International Initiatives, Tate Modern Gallery
“The Tate Modern Gallery and Cultural Diplomacy”

H. E. Amb. Lyobomir Nedkov Kyuchukov
Bulgarian Ambassador to the United Kingdom
“Imagine There’s No Country. Isn’t It Hard To Do?”

H.E. Amb. Maria Beatriz Souviron
Ambassador of Bolivia in the United Kingdom 
Lecture and Discussion

Mark C. Donfried
Executive Director & Founder of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD)
“Searching for a Cultural Diplomacy”
Martin Stitt
Writer & Director
“We Need Benevolent Dictators”

Dr. Mary Anne Francis
Research Fellow in Writing + Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London
"Diplomacy as Art: the Implications of the ‘Social Turn’ or Conversation and Negotiation as Artistic Form"

H. E. Amb. Mauricio Rodríguez Munera
Ambassador of Colombia to the United Kingdom
“The Role of Culture in the Colombian Diplomacy”  

H. E. Amb. Miguel A. Solano-López C
Ambassador of Paraguay to the United Kingdom
Lecture and Discussion

Mona Deeley
Director, Zenith Foundation
“Zenith Foundation: A Perspective On Cultural Policies”

Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Executive Director, Institute for Policy Research & Development
“The Next 20 Years - Global Crisis Convergence or Mutual Cultural Renaissance?”

Dr. Peter Webb
Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London
“Hybrid Cultures and the Death of Certainty: A Possible Future for the Multicultural in a Globally Networked World”

Prof. Peter Wiegold
Head of Music Research, Brunel University London
“The Art of Musical Diplomacy”

Philip Fiske de Gouveia
Senior Associate, Foreign Policy Centre
“Solving the Three-piece Puzzle: A Framework for Action”

Raheel Mohammed
Director of Maslaha
Lecture and Discussion

Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo
Lecturer in European Studies and Spanish, Associate, King's China Institute, King's College London  
“European Culture and the Place of the EU in Asia”

Rod Fisher
Director, International Intelligence on Culture and Director, European Cultural Foundation UK
“Has There Been a Paradigm Shift in Traditional Cultural Diplomacy? - Research on EU States Cultural Relations”

Minister Saman Ekanayake
Minister/ Education & Culture, Sri Lanka High Commission
Art & Music in Sri Lanka - A Blend of East and West''

Dr. Sharon Lin Tay
Senior Lecturer in Film, Media Department, Middlesex University 
“Inter-cultural Aesthetics in Transnational Media Practices”

Dr. Shzr Tan
Professor, Royal Holloway, University of London
“Cultural Diplomacy via the Internet: the YouTube Symphony Orchestra”

Professor Tina K. Ramnarine
Department of Music, Royal Holloway University of London
“Global Futures: Musical Circulations, the Politics of Identity and Cultural Capacity”

Tony Langford
Director, Kinetica Museum 
“Bringing Art Back to Life”

Tony Haynes
Co-Founder of the Grand Union Music Theater and Composer of the Grand Union Orchestra
“The Grand Union Orchestra - Making Multiculturalism an Art-Form”

Trudy Gold
Chief Executive, London Jewish Cultural Centre
“The London Jewish Cultural Centre - A Case Study”  

William Harvey
Director & Founder, Cultures in Harmony
“Musical Diplomacy in Action”

Ziba Norman
Editorial Board Member, London Society Journal
Lecture and Discussion

An Introduction to the Speeches

One of the main strengths of this conference was the variety of speakers involved and the diverse backgrounds and areas of work that they came to the Conference from. This led to interesting and intense discussions for all involved

24th August 2011

“The Tate Modern Gallery and Cultural Diplomacy”
Judith Nesbitt
  • The Tate modern gallery is the most popular museum of modern art,
  • Importance of the role of cultural places like the Tate in international relations and the understanding of different cultures, religions and nationalities
  • Nowadays culture is the thing, which drives tourism and foreign investments
  • Series of projects every year are provided by Tate Modern
  • Tate Modern is inspiring others to create initiatives that improve connections between different cultures and societies
Lecture & Discussion
Raheel Mohammed
  • Raheel’s discussion/lecture was based on three themes of culture. The first aspect that Raheel touched on was the role that culture, more specifically religion, could help to solve society’s problems and issues such as the state of health in some Muslim communities in Britain. The initiative developed by Maslaha and its partners encourages members of the local community, Muslim or non-Muslim, to go to the hospital and clinics for regular check- ups and care.
  •  It promotes/highlights the importance of health through religious and cultural messages and teachings. This idea is not solely restricted to the Muslim community but has also been translated/used within other communities.
  • Raheel emphasized the idea that although societies encompass a multitude of voices and opinions, the media only present one view/opinion and that a greater interaction between cultures will lead to the creation of a new language and vocabulary.
  • Beginning the last section of his lecture with a quote, ‘Architecture is frozen music’, and the use of the Aya Sofia Mosque in Istanbul as an example, Raheel suggested the idea that most buildings and architecture portray an insight into the history, development and amalgamation of the different cultures within a specific region or country. 
“Do we need benevolent dictators?”
Martin Stitt
  • Mr Stitt spoke about the power of film and he described the great extent to which people’s perceptions of cultures could be thereby affected.
  • Mr Stitt spoke extensively about the ways in which films could be used as a medium to reach cultural diplomacy goals.
  • The power of a ‘story’ was focused on as an influential way of challenging standard ideas and expressing new thoughts on an international basis.
  • Sadly, Mr Stitt conceded that the film industry is not an art; it is predominantly about budgets and money

25th August 2011

The Role of Culture in the Colombian Diplomacy
H.E. Amb. Mauricio Rodriguez Munera
  • ''The real ambassadors of Colombia are not politicians, they are artists, who express Colombia's traditions, values, history and dreams.'' the ambassador of Colombia in the U.K.
  • Colombia protects its diversity through article 7 and it increases its supoport for cultural exchange because Colombia wants to promote its international interests by raising awareness about its cultural reality.
  • Colombia is present in 44 countries through cultural events, has joint research in publications, has support for private partnerships, exhibitions in foreign countries, organizes a series of cultural and academic events, music festivals, Colombia gourmet in foreign countries and it is working together with the British academy.
  •  In 2007 Colombia hosted a cultural event in the U.K.
  •  ''Each country needs to have a national branding strategy. Colombia needed to deal with its negative nation branding.'' the ambassador of Colombia in the U.K.
Keynote Lecture
The Hon. Bill Cash
  • There is no universal culture in art, politics or economics
  • We need cultural diversity and a uniform principle of freedom
  • An important facet of art and culture is its unconformity
  • Great artists like Da Vinchi and Michaelangelo’s individual principles were sponsored
  • Bill Cash MP is a Eurosceptic - against the EU because its aim is to hegomonise which he believes reflects facist Germany and other dictatorial states or periods in history
  • Monetary institutions should question whether we want one body controlling all the money and whether this would cause competition to stop
  • A proof that universality is wrong is that of technology - for example Wikipedia. Wikipedia has a large degree of universality but it should be challenged, not presented as universal fact
Cultural Memory in the Digital Age
Alev Adil
  • The information and expression of cultural memory
  • Contested cultural memory and sociopolitical conflict
  • The potential that digital landscapes might provide for reconfiguring cultural memory. This is an idea that is particulalry pertinent in places such as Cyprus
  • Ways of memory become ideologically coded
  • Contested memory
  • Freud ‘screen memory’ early childhood memories
  • Memory is a process that works differently in different points of time
  • What you remember, or choose to remember and what to forget, makes you who you are
  • Le Goff’s 5 stages of the history of memory
    • Ethnic memory: oral memory cultures
    • Written memory cultures
    • ‘Christianisation of memory’ and collective memory
    • Development of print media
    • The electronic transmission, storage and reception of memory
  • Conflicted memory due to objective history.
  • Photography and archive art database collections are aids to modern memory

26th August 2011

Culture and Diplomacy: an Ambivalent Relationship
H.E. Amb.Johan Verbeke
  • Concept of culture = belief system and values that shape and are reflected in our institutions. As a defining characteristic of societies, culture contributes to creating an inclusive identity. When it becomes exclusive, however, identity politics acts as a major source of violence. In such cases the role of a diplomat becomes essential to upholding peace and security. Therefore, cultural exchange is the essence of diplomacy and plays a fundamental role in recognising and transcending differences by “bridging the gaps”.
  • Citizenship = the relationship of a person to the political community that shares the same set of values. In today’s globalised world citizenship is not a homogenous entity. In fact, supranational institutions such as the European Union and the United Nations introduce new levels of cosmopolitan and collective identities. The Belgian ambassador explained how he had multiple citizenships, identifying himself as a Flemish, a Belgian, a European and a world citizen. This is because the concept of “demos” is not one-dimensional as it can extend in different directions: to a local level (e.g. federalism, devolvement) but also to a supranational level.
  • The word ‘globalisation’ refers both to the "shrinking" of the world and the increased consciousness of the world as a whole; it is leading to growing interconnectedness; goes hand in hand with globalisation and regionalism:“The world is my village, the village is my world”
  • Universal principles of international diplomacy: the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs; the right of self-determination of people; the right of minorities.
  • A metaphor for diplomacy can be a big tree: the roots need to be strong, balanced and well nurtured in order to create a solid foundation for the dialogue process. The branches of the tree (which represent dialogue) spread and continue to grow.
“Solving the Three-piece Puzzle: A Framework for Action”
Philip Fiske de Gouveia
  • Cultural diplomacy can be defined as “different cultures coming into each other’s orbits which then causes a modification of the global culture”
  • The solution to the three-piece puzzle suggested in the title of the conference contains nine steps or elements to success
  • Another key idea for the future of Cultural Diplomacy expressed by Mr de Gouveia was “We as practitioners should try to find vectors where cultural diplomacy can make a difference”
“Intercultural Aesthetics in Transnational Media Practices”
Dr Sharon Lin Tay
  • Dr Tay understood the idea of a ‘Three Piece Puzzle’ suggested in the theme of our conference in terms of political, global or international relations
  • Dr Tay commented that cosmopolitanism was making the position of lesser known art forms unstable and easy to lose in a globalized world
  • Art can help to maintain the greatest possible variety of cultures, religions and beliefs
  • Multiculturalism is what runs the world today
“Music is Not a Universal Language”
Dr Shzr Tan
  • Dr Tan spoke about the various music ‘scenes’ on the internet- what music is promoted in the name of cultural exchange?
  • She hoped to dispel the ‘myth of music as a universal language’. She claimed, “music is not a language and it is not universal”.
  • She employed the example of the YouTube symphony orchestra to elaborate on how music has been appropriated as a status endorsed cultural symbol.
  • Everyone has a different vision of Utopia. However in Dr Tan’s opinion, music will not heal.
“A Cultural Diplomacy Model in Crisis: France in the Contemporary Global World”
Professor François Nectoux
  • France and the US are the only two states that have tried to present a universal culture
  • France’s culture now is in a crisis. During the 19th Century, Cultural Diplomacy was used in France to promote a universal culture that in turn justified its Empire. With the end of the Empire, the culture also declined.
  • In the 1960’s, the Gaullist regime relaunched a universal culture as an attempt to restore France’s place in the world. This was at the time of the Cold War, which gave them an opportunity to present an alternative way of life to Capitalism and Communism. During this period French culture was used to maintain ties with its old Empire - the culture itself was peculiar in that it was not specifically French, but instead taken from cultures all over the world.
  • There were three main ways in which this phase of Cultural Diplomacy lost its purpose - firstly, the end of the Cold War meant that it could not longer be presented as a middle ground. Secondly, the French Institute that is now in charge of French culture does not work. Lastly, the importance of French culture has declined as it no longer acts as the glue of society.

27th August 2011

“Art & Music in Sri Lanka - A Blend of East and West''
HE Saman Ekanayake
  • A brief background to Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage, with HE describing the impact of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonizers on the diversity of contemporary Lankan culture.
  • He spoke of a huge event in Sri Lanka that takes place every August and attracts thousands of viewers, from Sri Lanka and beyond; the Perahera.
  • Maintaining and protecting their identity is of great importance to Sri Lanka, despite strong influences from its giant neighbour, India.
  • The ‘State of Emergency’ the country has been under for years was finally lifted two days ago, another step forward in the liberalization of the country.
“Bringing Art back to Life”
Tony Langford
  • Mr Langford describes Kinetic Art as “art that moves, art that is alive; it is the reflection of life within
    the world around us, as the world we live is in constant movement”
  • The connection between Kinetic Art and Cultural Diplomacy can be seen in Mr Langford’s Kinetic Fair and Museum (all focused on kinetic art)
  • This interactive experience at the Kinetic Art Fair invites international artists and visitors from all over the world to challenge the way in which they view art.
  • The Kinetic Art events offer a platform for artists whose work does not fit into the traditional ideas of art.
“Diplomacy as Art: the Implications of the ‘Social Turn’ of Conversation and Negotiation as Artistic Form”
Dr Mary Anne Francis
  • Social practices, such as media and social relations, have started to be an important part of the art world.
  • Art in diplomacy can be understood as an aesthetic experience which also involves diplomacy.
  • Art as a form of diplomacy can be used as a way of undesrstanding and dealing with people using skill and tact
  • Art as a form of diplomacy could also be understood as meaning having a skill in the management of international relations
  • When using art as diplomacy, one has to be careful to distinguish the differences between conversation and negotiation.
“A Global Culture of Cities and Social Media”
Jan van Weijen
  • The talk focused on the topic of Dutch relations in the world
  • The legacy of Dutch-Japanese trade relations in the Shogun area remains today. An example of this is that Philips remains a strong partnership between the two countries
  • In the 1980’s, China opened SEZ and the Dutch invested heavily. KLM Dutch Airlines is a prominent airline in China
  • Cultural Diplomacy has a greater result due to the internet and the increased access to information
  • The Netherlands has high numbers of Twitter users and the Dutch plan to continue utilising the Internet to promote its culture. In this way, social media has helped to create a culture of cities.
“European Culture and the Place of the EU in Asia”
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo
  • It was a discussion on the export of European culture to  China
  • It is difficult to define European culture because there are so many facets and characterisitcs due to the large number of countries in Europe.
  • As a consequence of this large variety, European cultural exports include classical music, such as Mozart, as well as modern art and fashion. For example Chanel handbags are seen as a must have fashion accessory.
“Multiplicitous Languages, Performed Understanding: Theatre’s Challenge to Globalised Culture(s)”
Dr Joshua Abrams
  • Dr Abrams presented an exposé of Tony Kushner’s play “Homebody/Kabul”
  • Dr Abrams outlined the play’s importance because of its focus on linguistic multiplicity and the questionning of what exactly a language is
  • The play uses language as a major tool to both inform and deny the audience of understanding.

28th August 2011

“The Export of Language in Cultural Diplomacy”
Prof. Carla Figueira
  • Prof. Figueira´s objective is to raise awareness of the potential negative impact on linguistic and cultural diversity of governmental policies aimed at spreading the national language abroad, which can contribute to cultural imperialism. Spreading a national language abroad whilst limiting space for other languages is a means to extend influence and power; an instrument to project the national image and pursue national interest. Many languages, essential to upholding one´s identity and culture, are slowly disappearing.
  • Mother Language Day (21 February) was proclaimed in November 1999 by UNESCO and has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Children being taught in their mother tongue is of fundamental importance.
  • Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our heritage; key to cross-cultural understanding; indispensable for ensuring self-confidence needed to participate in society; language is not neutral, it defines us as species; only about 60 languages are well represented in the web (for instance, Swahili is spoken by 30 million people but is almost totally absent from the Internet).
  • Mozambique among the most linguistically diverse countries in Africa (43 living languages); Portuguese is the official language (spoken by 39.6 per cent of population), only 6.5 per cent speak their mother tongue; 16 African languages used in restricted transitional bilingual educational project (first 3 years of primary education); since 1990s the French language is spreading rapidly in Mozambique through several government initiatives. External language policies affect national policies in Africa and leave little room for the development of African languages (asymmetrical power relation). Identity and language should be multiple; language is a powerful tool to build nationhood at the image of European nationalism (one nation, one language).
“The London Jewish Cultural Centre - A Case Study”
Trudy Gold
  • Ms Gold’s talk explained the aims of the London Jewish Cultural Centre, such as raising knowledge of and the status of Jewish culture through education
  • Another aim of the Jewish Cultural Centre was to fight against the religious prejudice that can be felt in some aspects of society
  • Jewish culture can be defined in three main ways: in a cultural, national or religious way
  • Ms Gold stressed the importance of providing Holocaust education worldwide
“The Art of Musical Diplomacy”
Professor Peter Wiegold
  • Professor Wiegold discussed the importance and influence of music
  • Music is a unique form of art because of the way it speaks to people, as well as being a form of Public art
  • The challenge is learninulg how to combine national and cultural elements of the people that one works with, especially if they come from different backgrounds

29th August 2011

Lecture and Discussion
H.E. Amb. Maria Beatriz Souviron
  • H.E. Ambassador Souviron reminded us of the importance of cultural exchange within domestic politics.
  • Significance of the election of President Morales.
  • The Ambassador suggested that with the economic crisis, ‘multiculturalism is becoming less global’.
  • Despite the fact that Europe’s interest is more focussed on Asia and Africa, links between Europe and Latin America are strong.