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President Clinton Hosts First White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy

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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release Tuesday, November 28, 2000

President Clinton Hosts First White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy

Today, President Clinton, Mrs. Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will convene the first White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy to focus on the critical role of culture in the formulation and conduct of foreign policy in this era of globalization. The conference will bring together diplomats, artists, scholars and representatives from the private and non-profit sectors, for a discussion on how to better integrate cultural concerns into the day-to-day conduct of American foreign policy and strengthen cultural exchange programs that serve as invaluable forms of international communication.

Integrating Cultural Concerns Into Foreign Policy. The aims of the conference are to better integrate cultural concerns into foreign policy development; to recognize the importance of art and culture in the growing global economy; and to incorporate the cultural and educational strengths of the United States in diplomacy as well as U.S. business and military interests.

The Conference will focus on the following four issues:

  • Preserving and Promoting Diverse Cultures in a Global Economy;
  • The Role of Culture in the Practice of Diplomacy;
  • The Role of Multinational Companies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Multilateral Organizations in Promoting Cultural Understanding and Exchange; and
  • The Arts and Humanities Abroad Sharing America's Cultural Diversity.

White House Conference attendees include prominent U.S. and foreign diplomats, artists and cultural figures, and corporate and foundation heads. The conference panelists include His Highness the Aga Khan; Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka; Italian Minister of Culture Giovanna Melandri; former Fulbright scholar and Poet Laureate Rita Dove; world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma; and Joan Spero, Doris Duke Foundation President and former State Department official. The President, Mrs. Clinton and Secretary Albright will open the conference at the White House, and afternoon workshops will take place at the Westin Fairfax Hotel in Washington. Following the conference, the State Department will issue a report on the conference proceedings.

A Record of Supporting Cultural Exchange. The U.S. Government has a long history of supporting international cultural exchange and cooperation. Under President Clinton, the State Department has led a broad public diplomacy effort to focus on culture's role in foreign policy, which includes launching large-scale exchange projects with China and Nigeria and the development of working partnerships with public and private cultural organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the White House Millennium Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Pew Charitable Trusts, The Rockefeller Foundation, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The World Bank and Arts International. Additionally, the Fulbright Program, America's flagship international educational exchange program, has provided more than 230,000 participants with the opportunity to learn from each other since the program's inception.

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