Surmounting cultural divides


In a world divided by cultural, religious, political and racial differences, a platform that can create a feeling of togetherness between people would only seem like manna from heaven. Living together is a subject that is included in any political and social agenda these days, though hardly any of those lofty ideals materialise. However, now for over a decade Prince Claus Fund of Holland is striving to do just that — helping cultures to converge and teaching the world the art of living in harmony.

Speaking to this daily in an exclusive interview, Geerte Wachter, Senior Programme Coordinator of the Prince Claus fund said, “Our aim is to bring cultures together. And in almost a decade of our existence, we have been able to build a huge network which includes over 15,000 individuals and organisations.”

However, though there’s a huge interest about Nepal outside, she rues that little has been done to exhibit the cultural wealth that could make Nepal known throughout the world.

Wachter, who was on a six-day visit to Nepal, met prominent art curators, artists, musicians and laureates in Kathmandu.

“I found that Kathmandu is a very vibrant city and I was surprised by the avant-garde state of the culture and arts in the city, especially the ancient wood carvings, the art exhibitions and concerts that’s a part of the city’s culture.”

She also expressed that the Fund would be glad to work together with Nepali artistes and make Nepal known across the international frontiers.

Incidentally the Fund has allotted “three-and-a-half million dollars to be spent on different cultural exchange programmes, especially in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean”.

The Prince Claus Fund has worked at increasing cultural awareness and promoting exchanges between culture and development. It initiates and supports artistic and intellectual quality, creates platforms for debate and stimulates creative processes and artistic productions and is a veritable platform for intercultural exchange.

But it also works for different areas including its own artistic production (artistic productions in the realm of theatre, music, visual arts, architecture, audio-visual art and design), publication, cultural exchange programmes, giving away awards and responding to cultural emergencies (provides global ‘first aid’ for cultural heritage that is threatened by man-made or natural disasters).

The Fund maintains a broad-based view of culture that accommodates all kinds of artistic and intellectual disciplines, the transmission of culture, and education and media.

In addition, it is interested in the cultural and intercultural dimensions of fields that are not obviously a part of ‘culture’ in the conventional sense. Examples include technology, science and sport.

The Fund is interested in all concepts and activities that are relevant to the extensive field of culture and development. Each year the Fund chooses a theme in order to introduce an area of concern.

To mark the 10-year anniversary of the Prince Claus Fund, the 2006 Prince Claus Awards will celebrate all the themes and sub-themes of previous years.

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