Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cultural Diplomacy and Trump Education Secretary nominee DeVos

DeVos image from

From Wikipedia; see below on Michael Kaiser

DeVos was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2004, and served until 2010. While she was on the board, she and her husband funded a center to teach arts managers and boards of directors how to fundraise and manage their cultural institutions.[23][24] The couple donated $22.5 million in 2010 to continue the endeavor, which was given in the name the DeVos Institute of Arts Management.[23][24]
After the announcement of the DeVoses' gift to the Kennedy Center, DeVos explained that she had been persuaded by Kennedy Center official Michael Kaiser's observation that millions of dollars are invested "in the arts, and training artists," but not in "training the leaders who hire the artists and run the organizations." The DeVoses' gift was intended to remedy this oversight. "We want to help develop human capital and leverage that capital to the greatest extent possible," she said, describing Kaiser's "practice and approach" as "practical, realistic and creative."[25] The DeVoses' gift, part of which would be spent on arts groups in Michigan that had been hit hard by the recession, was the largest private donation in the Kennedy Center's history.[26]
In 2009, DeVos and her family founded ArtPrize, an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[27]\


See also John Brown, "The Backlash Against Cultural Diplomacy," Huffington Post (2011), re Mr. Kaiser:  
I would not go so far as to say the US government should not, openly and visibly, sponsor cultural events overseas.
The initial salvo in the recent anti-cultural diplomacy mood came from Michael Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in a posting in the Huffington Post. He asks:
But does traditional cultural diplomacy work? Do we need state-supported tours by American performing arts groups when without federal funding so many of our performers and performing arts groups are appearing all over the world?
Instead of traditional cultural diplomacy, Mr. Kaiser suggests:
We can teach how we use marketing to expand the reach of our arts organizations. We can teach the importance of long-term program planning for building new sources of support.

See also John Brown, "Is American Cultural Diplomacy a Hot Potato?" Notes and Essays (2013); also posted in American Diplomacy.


JB comment: Whenever I hear "training" and "marketing" re art/culture I, naive idealist that I am, take out ... not my revolver (see), just indignation  -- of course not about just misunderstanding art/culture itself, but about "training for" and "marketing" it, granted for supposedly honorable purposes (but arguably as a socially/politically acceptable substitute/antidote for its intellectually troubling implications/consequences) ... See also John Brown, "A Modest Proposal: Make the Pentagon Our Very Own Ministry of Culture!" Huffington Post (2011)

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