MISSOULA – The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana will host a one-day forum on Friday, Jan. 15, titled “The Art of Diplomacy: How the Arts and Cultural Engagement Shape Foreign Affairs, Politics and Society.”

The event is free and open to the public in conjunction with the weeklong Vienna International Ballet Experience, an international ballet and dance competition bringing approximately 400 children and adult participants to Missoula. This is the first time the Vienna competition will be held in the U.S.
The forum explores the ways in which diplomatic relations are not only shaped by policy and economics, but also by cultural, societal and artistic influences. Artistic interactions and movements have profound impacts on people, shaping politics and cultures.
Abraham Kim, director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, said he is especially excited to bring these topics to the forefront.
“Creative channels frequently facilitate greater communication, understanding and cooperation between communities,” he said. “At other times, the arts can be disruptive and even subversive, especially within closed societies where the creative works can inject new ideas and alternative cultural understandings.” 
Highlights of the day include luncheon speaker Elaine de Prince, who will address “War, Rehabilitation and International Ballet.” She will share her experience as an adopted mother of two girls from war-ravaged Sierra Leone, who both overcame adversity to become world-class artists, one a ballerina and the other a singer/songwriter. Another highlight of the day will be a performance by Aidan Carberry, an award-winning hip-hop and freestyle artist.
The day will include other performances and moderated conversations including: “The Importance, Process and Impact of Cultural Diplomacy,” moderated by former Montana Public Radio News Director Sally Mauk, “Building a National Image through Art,” “Breaking Down Walls through Ballet during the Cold War,” “The Arts, Resistance and Conflict,” and “Bridging the Chasm: Connecting Divergent Communities.”
Participants can register for the event online HERE.
For more information call Kim at 406-243-6778 or email abraham.kim@umontana.edu.