What Good Is Cultural Diplomacy If We’re Willing To Target Culture?

There’s an excellent commentary article by Philip Kennicott in the 1/6/2020 edition of the Washington Post that examines the unrest following statements from President Trump about his intent to order the US Armed Forces to attack cultural sites inside Iran should tensions continue to escalate.

While there are no shortage of commentary decrying the position, Kennicott does an excellent job providing broader historic context and trends inside the US military and abroad.

The odd thing is that the United States has been moving toward a more holistic understanding of the need to preserve and protect culture. In 2018, as part of the military budget, Congress created the position of coordinator for cultural heritage protection. A statement Sunday decrying Trump’s words, signed by cultural heritage experts in anthropology, archaeology and the museum world, details recent progress during the Trump administration, including the Smithsonian Institution’s plans to assist the Army in training a new corps of “monuments men,” experts who can help the military avoid cultural destruction.

The topic of cultural diplomacy is one we’ve examined for nearly two decades. Traditionally, we focus on its ability to transcend other socioeconomic benchmarks that tend to generate tension and help realize that what brings us together outweighs what keeps us apart.

Cultural diplomacy is at the very heart of the US Armed Forces military music programs. We took a deeper dive into that mission during recent efforts to gut military music programs.

Why Yes, You SHOULD Care About Military Bands

“It’s Smart, It’s Delicate, And It’s Diplomacy At Its Finest”

Kennicott’s piece does a good job at reminding readers just how far society has come with integrating the value of culture into institutions like the US Armed Forces. Hopefully, it’s a reminder we won’t need more than once.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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