Eurovision Song Contest to Take Place in Sweden

The Role of Music in Cultural Diplomacy

April 26th, 2016

From the 10th to the 14th of May, the Eurovision Song contest will take place in Stockholm, Sweden, for the 60th time. The show, which attracts around 800 million viewers from around the world every year, is a real platform for European countries. In fact, even the smaller ones are represented and have their minutes of fame. Besides, a few cultural and geographical outsiders are represented such as Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Australia. Each country can submit a song which will be performed on stage on live television. What has this show to do with cultural diplomacy?

Everything, say many studies qualifying the event of “showbiz” cultural diplomacy. Indeed, the song and the singer performing are supposed to represent their country, to show their culture in all its glory. The Eurovision, just like cultural diplomacy, is about appreciating one another's culture to better understand one another. The Eurovision Song Contest is the showcase of those cultures and a major tool of soft power. It was in fact created after the World War II in 1956 to distract the European nations from their war-torn countries and to implement peace through music. The Eurovision is a part of all the peace treaties signed during the 1950-1975 period of time.

However, Christopher Neil, a Grammy-nominated producer explained that the Eurovision is a televisual entertainment and should be watched as such, “it was never supposed to, nor should it, reflect political or social realities.” It means that the contest can be used as a soft power to promote the image of a country, influence the public opinion but not as a propaganda tool. Indeed, culture is still regarded as something beautiful and entertaining and is used to promote peace and human rights, not to question a political regime. The winner of 2014's contest, the transgender woman Conchita Wurst, even promoted the rights of the LGBT community through its victory. This character has become emblematic of the show and is pictured with the winner of 2015's contest.

The Eurovision is the ramp of cultural diplomacy through music and a very good opportunity for many countries and people to promote their ideas, from tourism to tolerance, from peace to art.

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Cultural Diplomacy News
Julie Essertel, CD News