Global Maze

Article excerpt

Going Global: Negotiating the Maze of Cultural Interactions

The 2000 Barnett Arts and Public Policy Symposium

The Ohio State University College of the Arts

May 5-6, 2000

Columbus, Ohio

Anyone wishing to move into the international cultural arena could hardly do better than this two-day conference in Columbus, offered every two years by the Arts Policy and Administration Program of the Department of Art Education, College of the Arts, The Ohio State University. The theme of this year's conference, "Negotiating the Maze of Cultural Interactions," was supported by keynote papers and panel presentations addressing issues such as McWorld-type hegemony vs pluralization; the reconciling of creativity with market forces; and the idea of knowledge transfer vs knowledge interaction. In an impressive opening talk, Raj Isar, Director of Cultural Policies for Development, the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), summarized these issues as "challenges of mutuality."

The absence of a central cultural policy in the United States, of a national "ministry of culture," was addressed by Gigi Bradford, Executive Director of the Center for Arts and Culture, by describing the integrative activities of her think tank in Washington, D.C., which develops information (by publishing bibliographies, databases and syllabii on arts and culture, and the useful book, The Politics of Culture: Policy Perspectives for Individuals, Institutions, and Communities [2000]); conducts and supports research (through 28 university affiliations and 90 expert presenters); convenes policy discussions; and develops cultural agendas (by proposing issues to Congress and government agencies, working with international organizations and working for U.S. membership in such organizations as UNESCO).

Practical advice was provided by Robert Stearns, Senior Program Director at Arts Midwest, Columbus, who reported on his extensive experience in international independent curating; Andrea Sanseverino Galan, who offered a detailed guide for working with local and foreign cultural agencies such as those in Buenos Aires, where she represents the Ohio Arts Council; Baraka Sele, producer and curator at the new New Jersey Performing Arts Center (PAC) in Newark, who described the positive economic and communitarian effects of nontraditional international programming at the center; John Dwyer, Coordinator of the U.S. Department of State, who offered guidance in working with the state department's new Office of International Information Programs (for resources or connections in a certain country, try www.usembassy/[country]); Helmo Hernandez Trejo, Executive Director of the Ludwig Foundation in Havana, Cuba, who emphasized the need for person-to-person cultural exchange to mitigate the destructive force of "sand/sun/s ex" tourism and described ways in which such exchanges can work; and Augusta Crino, Executive Director of the Chilean North American Institute, who reported on her organization's ways of working with local cultural organizations and cultural figures in the U. …