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Cultural diplomacy a vital underpinning for Asian Century

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The Hon Simon Crean MP

Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Minister for the Arts

Sunday, 28 October, 2012


Arts Minister Simon Crean says the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper sets a clear objective for cultural diplomacy and exchange to drive a stronger, deeper and broader engagement with Asian nations.

Mr Crean said cultural diplomacy is vital to Australia’s engagement across the region to build trust, understanding and confidence in our cultural, political, security and economic relationships.

“As home to the world’s oldest living culture and welcoming to the greatest diversity of cultures, Australia has unique cultural strengths that underpin values of respect, understanding and inclusion — this is crucial in Asia, which is a region deeply respectful of culture and respect for others,” he said.

“The Federal Government will work with arts and media organisations to better coordinate their engagement with Asia. Broadcasters ABC and SBS will grow their roles in sharing news and content, and our national collecting institutions with take a more strategic approach in connecting with Asia.

“The Australian International Cultural Council, our key cultural diplomacy body which I chair alongside Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, will also be revamped with a new strategic focus.

“We will improve government activities that support our artists succeeding in Asia including through the Australia Council and Screen Australia, to explore more points of contact and collaboration.”

Mr Crean said Australian arts and culture are already heavily engaged with Asian countries.

“Through the international program OzFest, which is currently being staged in India, Australia’s creative industries are forming part of a whole-of-government advocacy and public diplomacy strategy,” he said.

“The Sydney Symphony Orchestra is touring six cities in China to an enthusiastic response which they are documenting through a live blog.

“Bangarra Dance Theatre regularly tours Asia while the exhibition in Japan of Indigenous painter Emily Kame Kngwarreye curated by the National Museum of Australia are further examples of Australian arts success in Asia.

“In Australia locally curated events like Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival, Broome’s Festival of the Pearl and Destination NSW’s Parramasala Festival are showcasing arts and culture from across the Asian region, while the National Portrait Gallery’s contemporary Asian self-portrait exhibition will tour regions and capital cities.

“We have laid a solid foundation but more can be done a strengthen business, political and trade relationships. Arts and culture are the essence of identity and how we understand each other people-to-people.”

Mr Crean will visit China later this year to sign the 2012-14 Australia-China cultural implementation plan as part of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“I also travel to India next month with a program of both business and diplomatic meetings which includes OzFest, which in line with the White Paper, provides a focus for cultural diplomacy to build a deeper and stronger relationship with that country,” he said.

Media contact: Glen Atwell 0403 949 599