For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – Eight Russian cultural leaders, ranging from the manager of a children’s folk instrument orchestra to the director of a major arts festival, will visit Michigan Nov. 8–22 on the first exchange under the new Open World Cultural Leaders Program. The program is administered by the Open World Leadership Center, an independent legislative branch agency located at the Library of Congress.
Over the past four years, the Center’s Open World Program has brought more than 7,000 Russian political and civic leaders to all 50 U.S. states to build mutual understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation. Congress directed Open World to launch the new Cultural Leaders Program in legislation passed earlier this year. The inaugural Open World cultural leaders exchange is being hosted by the National Peace Foundation (NPF) in Michigan and North Carolina. NPF has organized numerous Open World visits and has strong local networks in both states.
The cultural leaders visiting Michigan are from the Volga Region in central Russia. Delegation members include key museum personnel, music directors, and music educators. The Russians will split into two groups – one will spend 10 days in Grand Rapids while the second will visit Traverse City, Interlochen and Ann Arbor, then the two groups will reunite for a short stay in the Detroit/Dearborn area.
“The Open World Program has worked tirelessly to foster a greater understanding between the people of Russia and the United States,” said Senator Carl Levin, who sits on the Open World Leadership Center Board of Trustees. “Over the years, the program has achieved great success in its governmental and business exchanges, and the new cultural exchanges will offer exciting opportunities to broaden the scope of information sharing. I am pleased that Michigan was selected as a site for the cultural exchange. I am confident that the cultural leaders will greatly enjoy our state and all it has to offer.”
“Russia’s cultural leaders and traditions have played a disproportionate role in shaping and directing Russia’s history and politics,” added Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, a co-founder of the Open World Program and chairman of the Center’s Board of Trustees. “Linking our two countries more closely through our cultural institutions reinforces the deep artistic ties between our two countries.”
The four Russian delegates visiting Traverse City, Interlochen, and Ann Arbor will participate in a range of activities on the campus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, including having roundtables with faculty, attending performances, and joining music classes. They are also scheduled to visit student music groups and classes at Traverse City West Senior High School, Traverse City East and Traverse City West junior high schools, and Norris and Westwoods elementary schools. Jeffrey Kimpton, president of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, organized this portion of the delegation’s schedule.
Highlights of the group’s Ann Arbor program (Nov. 16–20), which was put together by Dr. Karen Wolff, the dean of the University of Michigan School of Music, include sitting in on music classes, meeting with School of Music faculty, and attending a Michigan Youth Orchestra rehearsal.
Grand Rapids’ four Russian visitors will explore the city’s historic and cultural sites; tour educational institutions and galleries; and meet with leading area arts professionals. While in the Detroit/Dearborn area, the entire delegation will visit local cultural institutions and meet with Ford Motor Company officials to learn about the company’s support of the arts.
Before arriving in Michigan, the Russians will take part in a Washington, DC orientation session with the North Carolina delegates that will include meetings with National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia and other arts leaders. Their U.S. program concludes with a visit to New York City, where the entire Russian delegation will have working meetings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Juilliard School of Music, and downtown cultural institutions and organizations, including the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which is involved in rebuilding the downtown’s art and cultural communities.
“Having the cultural exchanges last three weeks, rather than the 10 days that is typical of our civic exchanges, is designed to provide ample time for both U.S. and Russian partners to learn about how arts organizations are developed in each other’s country; how these organizations serve their communities; and also how cultural activity in the United States is funded – a topic of special relevance to Russian cultural institutions adjusting to reduced government support and a market economy,” stated Open World Executive Director Geraldine M. Otremba.
Open World enlisted the Likhachev Foundation and CEC International Partners to help identify potential candidates for this program, and has been working closely with the Russian Ministry of Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts, NPF, and the U.S. host institutions on the design of the first three-week residencies. Both traditional high culture and popular culture in the United States will be explored, as will Russia’s immensely important folklore traditions.
The Open World Program at the Library of Congress brings emerging political and civic leaders from all 89 regions of the Russian Federation to communities across the United States. Delegations experience American community and cultural life while learning about the responsibilities of and interrelationships between the three branches and different levels (federal, state, and local) of the U.S. government. Program participants also explore how the U.S. private and nonprofit sectors help meet social and civic needs. Participants engage in hands-on experiences, direct observation, and substantive exchange with their professional counterparts.
For more background on Open World, please contact Katya Sedova at 202-466-6210 or visit http://www.openworld.gov.