Rebuilding Iraq, one poem at a time 

Boston Globe, 3/8/2009 
The army's John Dunlop has a mission "to help Iraq rebuild itself, block by block, and yesterday, as it happened, verse by verse. Poetry is in the lifeblood of this proudly literate country, and so it was that Dunlop and an Iraqi arts professor convened a poetry competition in war-ravaged Rashid. It was one more way to revive a sense of possibility."


To win hearts and minds, get back in the game 

Foreign Policy, 2/26/2009 
Indiana Senator Richard Lugar opines, "As part of a broader overhaul of its public diplomacy effort, the United States should reinvigorate the old American Centers concept-putting, when possible, new ones that are safe but accessible in vibrant downtown areas-support active cultural programming, and resume the teaching of English by American or U.S.-trained teachers hired directly by embassies. That would help draw people to the centers and ensure that students got some American perspective along with their grammar. America's best players in public diplomacy have always been its people and its ideas. The United States should get them back into the game instead of standing on the sidelines."

US Artists, Arts Presenters, Educators and Cultural Scholars Call for Change in US Policy towards Cuba 

PR Newswire-USNewswire, 3/3/2009 

"A national network of artists and arts presenters is calling on the Obama Administration to renew cultural ties with Cuba. In a letter delivered to the White House on March 3, 2009, US-Cuba Cultural Exchange called for Cuban artists to be permitted entry into the United States and for the elimination of restrictions that prevent Americans from traveling to Cuba. The letter – signed by over 1,100 Americans in the arts and culture, including Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Harry Belafonte, Bonnie Raitt, Danny Glover, Eddie Palmieri, producer Laura Bickford and representatives of dozens of major arts institutions – requests 'A process that can result in the development of normal, respectful bilateral relations between our countries.'"


 Public, Private Sector Leaders to Present Administration with Recommendations 'To Restore Public Diplomacy as Vital, Viable Element of Smart Power' 

PR Newswire, 2/19/2009 
"Some seventy men and women, representing a broad spectrum of public diplomacy stakeholders and practitioners, are calling on the Administration and Congress to reinvent and restore public diplomacy as a vital and viable element of 'Smart Power'. The group today issued a set of ten recommendations to guide the new Administration and Congress as they seek to revitalize and adapt public diplomacy in the context of new geopolitical realities and new communications tools. Participants included former and current public diplomacy practitioners and thought leaders from the State and Defense departments, the National Security Council, the White House, the intelligence community, foreign assistance, the arts, academe, business, Capitol Hill, state government, the traditional and new media (including print, broadcast and Internet), think tanks and institutes, NGOs and national private sector citizen diplomacy groups."



Arab festival opens at Kennedy Center in DC 

Associated Press, 2/23/2009 

"Lebanese dancers, a Shakespeare production from Kuwait portraying Sadda
m Hussein as 'Richard III' and incredible wedding dresses from the Arab world are showcased in an unprecedented arts festival opening at the Kennedy Center. The $10 million, three-week festival, 'Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World,' began Monday. It will feature 800 artists from 22 different countries including Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Somalia and Sudan. Organizers say that makes it the largest presentation of Arab arts ever in the United States. The hundreds of visual and performing artists, hailing from well-established theaters and more isolated places, 'are excited that America is going to take their cultural work seriously,' said Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The goal, he said, is 'to get to understand Arabs as people, as opposed to Arabs as political entities.'"