New England Foundation for the Arts Receives Grant to Support Cultural Diplomacy Initiative

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Public-Private Partnership Now in Third Season

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Center Stage brings together artists and diverse U.S. populations to provide a larger, deeper context of our human community

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) has received a grant of $300,000 from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program to support the third season of Center StageSM. NEFA’s Center Stage program brings performing arts ensembles from abroad to the U.S. to help build mutual understanding through cultural expression and people to people connections. This is the second round of support for the program from DDFIA.

“NEFA understands the power of artists to engage, to inspire and to elevate thinking about bias through imaginative experiences. With this knowledge, Center Stage brings together artists and diverse U.S. populations to provide a larger, deeper context of our human community through a series of immersive artistic programs designed to familiarize and build awareness of cultures that are not well known to the American majority,” said Zeyba Rahman, senior program officer for the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program.

Four to six ensembles from Algeria and Tanzania, to be announced in summer 2015, will embark on month-long tours in the fall of 2016 to communities across the U.S. and will focus on engaging youth and fostering cultural awareness and appreciation. The first two seasons brought ensembles from Haiti, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, and Vietnam touring a total of 70 communities in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

"Center Stage has created a human dimension to the exchange of ideas across cultures. In its two seasons the program has fostered opportunities for artists and communities throughout the U.S. and internationally to encounter one another and build relationships of respect and celebration," said NEFA executive director Cathy Edwards. “The support of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art provides critical underwriting and spotlights the value of public-private partnerships to advance access to global connections."

Center Stage is a groundbreaking cultural engagement initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administered by NEFA in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. General management for Center Stage tours is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc. Funding for previous seasons has also come from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council. Center Stage provides positive and popular avenues for engaging global communities, and develops professional networks between U.S. communities and international artists, enhancing creative economies. Visit http://www.centerstageUS.org.

About Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
The mission of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art is to promote the study and understanding of Islamic arts and cultures. The focus of DDFIA’s Building Bridges Program is to increase the public’s knowledge and understanding of contemporary Muslim societies through engagement with the arts. http://www.ddfia.org.

About the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, private-sector, professional, and sports exchange programs. ECA exchanges engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and emerging leaders in many fields in the United States and in more than 160 countries. Alumni of ECA exchanges comprise over one million people around the world, including more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 300 current or former heads of state and government.

About NEFA
NEFA builds connections among artists, arts organizations, and funders, powering the arts to energize communities in New England, the nation, and the world. NEFA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that operates in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the New England state arts agencies, with additional funding from foundations, corporations, individuals and other government agencies.

NEFA’s work is accomplished through grantmaking, services, and initiatives which strengthen and advance the national arts infrastructure. For more information, please visit http://www.nefa.org or call 617.951.0010.

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Ann Wicks
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