European Embassies Involvement in the Arts
Many artistic and cultural traditions of the past and present have manifested themselves throughout time in European countries and cultural cities. Despite the thought that Embassies could have a completely political and diplomatic purpose, many European Embassies have fostered extensive cultural and art services and programs to continue and share their cultural legacy to the United States. Luckily being in DC, we have access to these services, not only continuing our search for an artistic lifestyle, but also experiencing art and cultural customs through other nations across Europe.
The French have a very well established Cultural Service segment of their Embassy in DC. It has established itself so well that it has even expanded to regional areas in the US from Boston all the way to San Francisco. One of the main goals of the French Embassy is to promote French culture in the US. La Maison Française, or House of France, is an establishment by the French Embassy in DC that holds many cultural programs focused around French artistic traditions. Performances, varying from traditional ballet to classical French concerts, are events held by La Maison in addition to visual arts. However, it also focuses on going beyond the fine arts and experiencing other cultural, yet still artistic, aspects of France. This series is called Le Studio and offers lessons in areas such as culinary arts, wine tasting, and fashion. While the French Embassy is focused on appealing to the art world in the United States, they have also explored exposing French culture to a larger audience through programs like outside movie screenings and art-related festivals. This is seen even more through programs in DC for public schools to visit the embassy to get a sense of he French culture. The Cultural Service in the French Embassy promotes the French culture of the arts in addition to bringing these ideas to the whole public.
The Italian Embassy is highly focused on sharing the long artistic history Italy has not only in it’s own country, but between Italy and the United States as well. It promotes celebrating these traditions through hosting various events and programs through DC. Within the visual arts, there have been established “Italian pathways” through Museums in DC, such as the Arcimboldo Show in the National Gallery of Art in 2011. These pathways emphasize the importance and presence of Italian work and history within the visual arts, even in American museums. They also hold cinema events and conferences to discuss important artistic matters to share with the DC culture. The Embassy likewise tries to show their connection to European art in general by not only holding their own Italian art events, but getting involved with European Union events in DC such as Kids Euro Festival and the European Union Film Showcase. The Italian Embassy finds learning the Italian language as much of an important art form as performances or fine arts are to their culture. With this view, the Italian Embassy has held an Italian Language Week last October as well as forming an Italian Cultural Institute. The Italian Cultural Institute in DC is very focused on promoting the Italian language through night language meet-ups every Monday, language courses, and language certifications. The Italian Embassy focuses on all types of art and culture to promote through their programs.
While the German Embassy itself has established many successful events pertaining to the arts, the Goethe-Institut, an institution based on German cultural exchange, strongly focuses on bringing the arts to cities such as DC beyond the Embassy. The Goethe-Institut in DC holds different cultural events to support global outreach. These events extend from using its exhibition space for showcasing German artwork to holding film festivals highlighting German cinematography. They also are interested in delving into the idea of how cultures can appreciate the same art form through a yearly exploration called Time Shadows. Linking the idea of DC’s cultural Chinatown to the German culture of the Embassy, Time Shadows picks a yearly artisitic topic ranging from music, food, and poetry and explores it through different examples from the cultures of Germany, the United States, and China. Goethe-Institut also appreciates the idea of language being important for people to truly understand the German culture. Therefore, the institution offers language courses, workshops, and examinations to extend the knowledge of the German language within DC. Through the Goethe-Institut, there is a strong sense of promoting German culture while being able to see the interaction of it within different art forms and nations.
The Spanish Embassy promotes creating cultural links and opportunities between both Spain and the United States. One of the ways they have accomplished this has been through establishing a Spain-USA Foundation through the Embassy. In addition to bringing Spanish artists to the US, the foundation supports DC as well in trying to sustain arts and culture. Beyond this Foundation, the Embassy supports the Hispanic community in the United States that holds a link with sharing the Spanish language. They also support Spanish culture that has already manifested itself within the American culture. This has been accomplished through art events that highlight features such as flamenco dancing and exhibits of famous Spanish visual artists like Joan Miro. In this way, the Spanish Embassy has embellished the arts that have already naturally grown within DC. To further build a community and connection between the two countries, the Spanish Embassy offers opportunities for grants and competitions in both the US and Spain. The idea of building this cultural network has expanded even more through Spain Red, a cultural networking site between the United States and Spain. The goal of this social network is to help artists from Spain find opportunities in the art industries in DC and the broader United States. The Spanish Embassy has a large focus on creating artistic opportunities in the community for people of both nations.
The Austrian Embassy has created a specific Austrian Cultural Forum aided to specifically create a cultural dialogue between DC and Austria. One of the ways the Forum does this is through creating events such as concerts, exhibitions, and performances to share Austrian artistic customs and history to DC. In order to create a dialogue, the main focus is to select themes and issues in the work that concerns both nations and help formulate new ideas about them. Also, there is a goal to focus on contemporary art to create modern discussion of art in both nations. This idea of exchange is emphasized even more through holding discussions, interviews, and lectures surrounding cultural customs. Some of the topics have included discussions about transcending borders within the arts and lectures concerning a change in global context of the arts. Through these efforts, the Austrian Embassy has developed a well-established community for dialogue and exchange of artistic ideas.
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