The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced today a new partnership with the Association of American Voices to engage with people across the world through music. Known as American Music Abroad, this people-to-people exchange will feature a wide variety of American musical genres through international cultural exchange initiatives that will reach more than 40 countries around the world during 2012 and 2013.
American Music Abroad builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power” diplomacy, which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools – in this case music – to bring people together and foster greater understanding. It also builds on the historic legacy of the Department of State’s Jazz Ambassadors, who first traveled the world in the 1950s to connect with people through music.
The Department of State and the Association of American Voices will create a series of month-long, multi-country exchange programs. During the exchange, 10-12 ensembles representing American music will conduct public concerts, interactive performances with local musicians, lecture demonstrations, workshops, and jam sessions with diverse audiences. American Music Abroad activities will focus on younger and underserved audiences in approximately 40 countries with little or no access to live American performances.
American Music Abroad ensembles will be selected on the basis of artistic quality and commitment to education and cultural engagement through an open competition. Further information about the application process for musicians will be announced later this fall.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, private-sector, professional, and sports exchange programs. These international exchanges engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and emerging leaders in many fields in the United States and in more than 160 countries. Alumni of ECA exchanges comprise over one million people around the world, including more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 320 current or former heads of state and government.
The Association of American Voices has presented concerts, workshops and master classes, and summer youth performing arts academies to over 200,000 audience members in 110 countries during the past 16 years. With a focus on nations emerging from conflict or isolation, American Voices has taken its unique brand of cultural engagement programs, Jazz Bridges, YES Academy and Hiplomacy, to nations such as Iraq, Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan. In recognition of its work, American Voices was selected as a Best Practice Organization by the International Cultural Engagement Task Force and the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD) in 2010.