Introducing the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy’s Soft Power: The Monthly Roundup – a blog series dedicated to coverage of worldwide efforts in cultural diplomacy, including through the visual and performing arts, sports, and more…
Here are five projects from August that caught our eye:
After Dark took place at the Tate Britain in London from August 13th to August 17th. It was the first exhibition of its kind that had interactive video streaming – with a twist. It offered after-hours access to the galleries for online viewers, who could peruse the museum’s collection of 500 years of British art with robotic assistance. The Workers, a digital product design studio, received Tate Britain’s IK Prize and collaborated with designer David Di Duca to create these robots, which gave individuals worldwide the ability to “curate” their own experience, while other online viewers tagged along for the ride. Run-ins between the robots were very entertaining, as the humans directing each robot shared a surreal moment of being in the same place digitally; realistically, people from opposite ends of the globe were given the opportunity to experience art through technology.
A Diplomatic Tune
Music knows no boundaries; it’s a universal language. That’s why it is still being used as a tool for cultural diplomacy – just as it was in the 1950s, when infamous jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong went on world tours abroad for the U.S. Department of State (DoS). In August, DoS sent East Carolina University’s Greg Hurley, a viola and violin professor, to Beirut for two weeks to teach music abroad, and in turn, promote relations between the United States and Lebanon. Hurley is on the board of American Voices, a St. Louis organization that works with nations emerging from conflict using the performing arts to enrich lives of people of all ages.
Village Roadshow Asia: Aiming to Serve “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” on the Big Screen
Village Roadshow Pictures Asia is collaborating with producer Story Mining & Supply Co. to create the film adaptation of Nicholas Griffin’s book, Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game that Changed the World, released January 7, 2014. The movie, which is in early development, will recall the 1971 Table Tennis World Championships in Japan, when American player Glenn Cowan unintentionally boarded the Chinese team’s bus after a practice – resulting in an improbable friendship between Cowan and China’s star player, Zhuang Zedong – and how this led to the unexpected diplomatic summit between Chairman Mao and President Nixon in 1979.
Japan and North Korea: In the Ring
As the Olympics have shown in the past, sports are strong instruments for cultural diplomacy. Former Japanese wrestler and current politician Antonio Inoki gathered 20 mixed martial artists – including former NFL lineman Bob Sapp – from different areas of the world to participate in a series of wrestling matches on August 30th and 31st in a 15,000-seat arena in Pyongyang, North Korea. Inoki, an avid supporter of utilizing sports to promote world peace, hopes that this International Pro Wrestling Festival will help cultivate diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea.
New York City Celebrates at India Day Parade 2014
Crowds gathered to celebrate India’s independence at the 34th annual India Day Parade in Manhattan, New York, on August 17th. Bollywood celebrities, thousands of spectators, and several officials attended the parade – the largest independence celebration held outside of India. The parade, which traveled down Madison Avenue, featured several extravagant floats and members of the Indian American community dressed in colors representing Indian culture, as well as peace.