For many years, the State Department has viewed cultural exchanges as an important tool for sharing America’s values, ideas, and creativity with the world. Programs such as Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad have helped audiences abroad gain an understanding of our society and presented our country in a positive light. On Monday, December 14, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of the arts and artists in her remarks at Georgetown University on the Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century. During a question and answer session, Secretary of State Clinton was asked about the importance of the arts and artists in helping to promote human rights. In her reply, Clinton stated:
“I remember some years ago seeing a play about women in Bosnia during the conflict there. It was so gripping. I still see the faces of those women who were pulled from their homes, separated from their husbands, often raped and left just as garbage on the side of the road. So I think that artists both individually and through their works can illustrate better than any speech I can give or any government policy we can promulgate that the spirit that lives within each of us, the right to think and dream and expand our boundaries, is not confined, no matter how hard they try, by any regime anywhere in the world. There is no way that you can deprive people from feeling those stirrings inside their soul. And artists can give voice to that. They can give shape and movement to it. And it is so important in places where people feel forgotten and marginalized and depressed and hopeless to have that glimmer that there is a better future, that there is a better way that they just have to hold onto.”
Clinton also noted that she would be trying to increase the number of these types of artistic exchanges. To read her remarks in their entirety, please click here.