Peter Webb (Lecturer in Sociology, University of Cambridge; UK)

09.11.2010 - Interview conducted by Gulistan Ozmen

Q. How relevant are the arts as an accessible form of Cultural Diplomacy?

A.  I think the arts are incredibly important. Although there is a distinction between ‘high’ and ‘popular’ art, that line/distinction has recently become much more blurry since many British and European popular artists have come from a high art background. And I think art as a whole, whether it is graffiti art or whether it is more abstract/installation art, what it is doing is creating a kind of forum for some kind of cultural dialogue and I think that is incredibly important and needs to be celebrated much more than maybe we have where art communities are suffering from the kind of cuts that are going on in the economy.

Q. How do you think art exchange can foster multiculturalism in the future?

A. I think that art is very important in fostering a new sense of multiculturalism, a kind of hybrid culture when you get diverse communities that are involving them self in some kind of art or cultural production; it might be music, theatre or film, but what tends and often happens is that the community interact which has an effect on the way they see themselves and that usually leads to some kind of dismantling in their fixed idea on what their identity might’ve been and so the more these cultural interactions and dialogues happen through art, music and culture the better, and I think we should further encourage the existence of these forums and spaces.

Q. what is the role of CD in international and inter-cultural relations?

A. The role of CD in both fields is incredibly important. For example, the initiative that I’ve seen over the last couple of days at the conference, but also in terms of encouraging cultural mixing and cultural expression that does bring different cultural groups together, whether that’s through an orchestra or whether it’s through art works or theatre works where you get different communities to work together. One really positive thing I saw ten years ago was a Moroccan Muslim musician who was playing in a band called Momo in London , working with an Israeli Jewish singer, providing a link which actually went beyond musical experience itself, it said a lot to a lot of people and made them question their own positions and situations.