Marking 10 Years of Fighting for Cultural Understanding

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Big Apple! Arts and Cultural Management Tour of New York City, a joint venture between my company, Walker International Communications Group (New York), and Kape Communications Pty Ltd (Melbourne).

The project was born out of our mutual desire to deepen cultural understanding and exposure to New York-based arts organizations that are mission-driven and focused on engaging diverse audiences. Our partnership also has sought to build creative links that promote cultural diversity and the arts as an engine for creative and economic growth, community development and social cohesion.

This year, we’re working most fervently to promote and facilitate cultural diversity in the arts as a viable mechanism for defying bigotry and intolerance. Our experience has taught us that dialogue and civic engagement are the greatest buffers to ignorance and provide understanding of how diverse people live and access the arts.

Our goal is to work with our colleagues and peers in New York and Australia to strengthen the cultural, social, religious and gender diversity that comprise our two nations’ vibrant arts ecologies.  We believe that the USA and Australia, as modern hubs of migration, must be aggressive in modeling how dialogue and the arts can foster respect and recognize the dignity of diverse communities.

The current political climate, as well as our collective history, reaffirm and reinforce the need for these efforts. Years ago, at a time of global war, Americans of Japanese descent were interned; Italian and German nationals were detained; and Jewish and Polish immigrants fleeing Nazi Germany were barred. Even after the end of World War II, based upon obscene and wrong notions of race, Chinese, Southeast Asians, Middle Easterners and Africans have been obstructed or denied the right to legally migrate to America.

Today, we are all aware of the legal battles stemming from efforts to ban residents of seven predominantly-Muslim countries and stepped up efforts to deport Mexicans. A policy that discriminates against people based on citizenship, religion, culture or language is a policy that harms our entire nation and our citizens. It also limits our future cultural and economic growth.

Kape Communications Pty Ltd and Walker International Communications Group are committed to fighting and transforming discriminatory thinking. We know that the overwhelming number of our Australian and American citizens, as well as our elected representatives (conservative and liberal), regardless of religious beliefs, gender, culture and language, believe that diversity is the fuel that powers the engine of creative, intellectual, social and economic progress.

We believe that now, more than ever, is the time for us to leverage the arts in order to broaden our thinking, expand our efforts and deepen our engagement with each other. We cannot waste another day. As cultural workers from Australia and New York City, we urge you to unite with us and reaffirm your commitment to diversity, the arts and cultural development for the sake of all of our citizens and communities.

Donna Walker-Kuhne
Walker International Communications Group NYC

Fotis Kapetopoulos
Kape Communications Pty Ltd