Q. How accessible/relevant do you think the arts are as a form of cultural diplomacy?
A. I think there are various strands to both arts and cultural diplomacy. I think cultural diplomacy can too often only use ‘high art’; it is common for paintings to be used as gifts but I think the strength of cultural diplomacy in terms of art is when you can use the art of the people, art as a mass movement like street art where people use it to share positive messages about educational projects but it can also be very powerful in terms of protest songs.
Q. what role does art play in fostering and encouraging multiculturalism?
A. I think building links between different communities is extremely valuable. But I don’t believe in the word/term ‘multiculturalism’, I think it is a term that is very flawed and I think it has been misused in a number of different countries. I do believe that people have different cultural influences but ultimately if we are seeking to understand each other then we have to focus on trying to understand people and their multiple identities.
Q. What role does culture play in the world of development?
A. I think art plays an enormous role in development and is used by a number of different organisations, from grassroots civil society organisations right up to UN agencies. And there are certainly lots of examples where UN agencies have either written comic books without any words in them, using street art or other artistic techniques to try to get across message, whether it is about education, women’s rights or healthcare. So art is used a lot in development but I think the challenge moving forward for those who are interested in the connection between art and development is how artists can be engaged to try and tackle the problems that we know are coming but which we cannot see as yet. Some of the issues about the food, population and water prices that we are expecting to hit this planet in 2030 and what can be now how can artisits depict some of the problems that are yet to come.