Setting conditions for cultural exchange?

I found this article by Seiichi Kondo, the former Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan, about his view about cultural diplomacy.

He was the first diplomat who turned into the commissioner, and had also worked as the first Director-General at Department of Public Diplomacy in Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Kondo states that the government should “create an environment that enables and encourages the free development of culture, while removing obstacles to the exchange with other cultures” but “should not intervene in cultural affairs nor set conditions for cultural exchange.” He also says “Cultural activities take on diplomatic meaning in consequence as they spread; no culture is and should be designed for diplomacy from the beginning” and that “it is a good thing that culture results in promoting national interests, and there is no problem in the government encouraging this.”

This resonates with Gienow-Hecht’s view about the characteristic of successful cultural diplomacy: distance between the agent of a cultural diplomacy program and a political agenda.

Yet, Kondo believes “the most effective way to disseminate Japanese culture is to invite talented artists rather than sending art works and artists abroad.”

In fact, the Agency is now providing a grant for international artists-in-residence program in Japan. Its guideline specifies that it should be used to cover the cost for foreign artists to stay in Japanese arts residencies but not for that of Japanese artists.

The foreign artists would have opportunities to interact with Japanese people during their stay and it is mutually beneficial. Still,  I think this is rather one-way and more about telling than listening.

As Deos, and many other authors of our reading says, successful diplomacy requires two-way or “bi-directional communication of listening.”

I think the grant should fund the cost for Japanese artists as well.



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