Culture, a powerful tool of diplomacy

RETROSPECTIVE in Blue is only one of cultural events that the US Embassy in Slovakia has contributed to. On September 10, the After Hours exhibit, which presents 19 American artists from Orange County, California, will open in Gallery Z in Bratislava. Chris Scharf, public affairs officer at the US Embassy in Bratislava, has told The Slovak Spectator that this is only one of many similar projects scheduled to take place.

RETROSPECTIVE in Blue is only one of cultural events that the US Embassy in Slovakia has contributed to. On September 10, the After Hours exhibit, which presents 19 American artists from Orange County, California, will open in Gallery Z in Bratislava. Chris Scharf, public affairs officer at the US Embassy in Bratislava, has told The Slovak Spectator that this is only one of many similar projects scheduled to take place.

“We are supporting a cooperative project between Slovak composer Egon Krak and American musicians that will result in the world premiere of a new work this fall in Žilina and at the Bratislava Music Festival,” Scharf told The Slovak Spectator. “Also, in autumn the Slovak National Theatre is going to do an intriguing recent American play – Dead Man’s Cell Phone – and we hope to sponsor a visit here by the playwright, Sarah Ruhl.”

The US Embassy is also supporting two significant art exhibits. In addition to After Hours, an exhibition by two American artists-in-residence – Robbin Ami Silverberg and Andras Borocz – is running at the At Home Gallery in Šamorín. Both those shows will continue through September and on into October. The embassy will also sponsor a touring exhibit of political satire cartoons from Slovakia and the United States.

Through its cultural and educational activities, the US Embassy pursues mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the Slovak Republic in order to promote and improve friendly and peaceful relations between the two countries, said Scharf.

“In general, we work together with Slovak institutions and individuals that are often experts in different aspects of American culture and have excellent contacts with their American counterparts,” said Scharf, adding that it is sometimes difficult to identify the most important activities of the embassy in the field of culture.

Some of the significant projects that have resulted from these kinds of partnerships were the Sam Francis exhibition, the performance in Žilina of a new dance work by Slovak-American choreographer Pavel Zuštiak, a tour of the Chris Byars Jazz Quartet from New York City that covered much of the country and ended in Košice, the publication of a collection of poetry by Emily Dickinson translated by Milan Richter, an appearance of the San Francisco vocal group Chanticleer at the Slovak National Theatre, the first-ever retrospective in Slovakia of photographs by Ansel Adams at the Bratislava City Gallery, a travelling exhibition of White House photos of President Obama and his family, the participation of conductor Loren Maazel during the Bratislava Music Festival, and several concerts by American jazz legends such as Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock.

The US Embassy has also been involved in many other programs ranging from the visit of an American chess grandmaster to Banská Štiavnica, to a break-dance competition in Banská Bystrica. The embassy also works quite closely with a number of film festivals in Slovakia throughout the year, as American films, music and television have a huge following in Slovakia.

“I find it fascinating that many Slovaks are fans of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and view the Met’s simulcasts shown every month at Divadlo Aréna theatre,” said Scharf. “And I was impressed with the crowds that came to see and hear Dean Potter, who is a world-famous climber, at the Hory a mesto mountain film festival and at our InfoUSA Center in Banská Bystrica.


For more information on future activities supported by the US Embassy, please see Upcoming Events at slovakia.usembassy.gov


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