2023 Meridian Culturefix Conversations

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In 1968 at the Democratic National Convention, civil rights activists chanted, “The whole world is watching.” Fifty-five years later, some may ask, who is watching now as strongman leaders in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas push the boundaries of human rights protections and international law? Keeping the lights shining on the international security threats posed by these strongmen leaders and their civil rights abuses, human rights violations, and rising wealth gaps are artists and cultural leaders who bring these daunting realities to the forefront with their works.  Whether asking us what it means to be a citizen of the world, or what it means to be just or even human, artists and cultural leaders play a leading role in keeping the world’s attention on the issues that matter most.

The 3rd Annual Culturefix Conversations on June 2, 2023, with leading artists and cultural leaders to learn more about how arts and culture helps us build more inclusive democracies, protect cultural heritage in conflict countries, and understand, humanize, and respect one another at a time when it is needed most.  Art is indeed the best expression for democracy.  It can help build community, respect, and a more equitably peaceful, just, and prosperous world.

See more on social: #Culturefix

Forum Agenda

9:00 AM: Opening Remarks
  • Ambassador Stuart Holliday, CEO of Meridian International Center
  • Sue Hostetler Wrigley, Meridian Trustee and Chair of Culturefix
9:10 AM: Cultural Diplomacy Award to the U.S. Department of State’s Cultural Heritage Center
  • The Honorable Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
 9:15 AM: Culture in the Crosshairs: Protecting Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones

Culture has long been at the frontlines of war and conflict, and international protections and protocols have been made to safeguard cultural heritage and historic sites. Despite these efforts, culture—and by extension, peace and security—is regularly targeted or destroyed. What are governments and the private sector doing to protect cultural heritage in war and conflict zones?

  • Deborah Lehr, CEO and Managing Partner of Edelman Global Advisory (Moderator)
  • Dr. Kateryna Smagliy, First Secretary, Public and Cultural Diplomacy, Embassy of Ukraine to the U.S.
  • Dr. Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, Smithsonian
  • Irina Bokova, Former Director-General, UNESCO
 10:00 AM: Cultural Appreciation vs. Appropriation in Fashion

Despite increased awareness in recent years of what constitutes cultural appropriation, the grey area separating appropriation from appreciation can still be confusing for many. This conversation will look at instances of cultural appropriation in fashion and the fine line that separates these two practices.

  • Natalie Jones, Executive Vice President, Meridian International Center (Moderator)
  • Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Editor, New York Times
  • Patricia Michaels (Taos/Pueblo), Native Designer and Project Runway Finalist
  • Aba Kwawu, Founder and President, TAA PR
 10:45 AM: Coffee Break
 11:00 AM: Art for Inclusion and Identity

This conversation will provide a deep dive beyond representation, discussing presentation, reception, and expectation in the art world addressing themes of inclusion and identity and the various intersections of these topics through first-hand experiences of pioneering cultural practitioners.

  • Marianne Boesky, Gallerist (Moderator)
  • Marilyn Minter, Artist
  • Jonathan D. Katz, Founding Figure in Queer Art History, University of Pennsylvania
  • Claudia Gould, Director, Jewish Museum
  • Tuliza Fleming, Curator of Visual Art, National Museum of African American History and Culture
11:45 AM: The Role of Art in Democracy

This discussion will examine how art and music worldwide can spur change and promote civic engagement and democracy. The discussion will examine broader themes and specific examples for the speakers to share personal experiences.

  • Eric Gottesman, Co-founder of For Freedoms (Speaker Introductions)
  • Nolen Bivens, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts (Moderator)
  • María Fernanda Garíca Velazco, Cultural Attaché, Embassy of Uruguay to the United States
  • Hank Willis Thomas, Artist and Co-founder of For Freedoms
  • Nekisha Durrett, DC Artist with For Freedoms

Project summary

2023 Meridian Culturefix Conversations | June 2023
Impact Areas: Cultural Diplomacy
Program Areas: Culture