Asad Jafri Takes Center Stage

The U.S. State Department has appointed IMAN’s Director of Arts and Culture, Asad Jafri, to the Center Stage Artist Advisory Committee. Center Stage is an international exchange program that will bring performing artists from around the globe to tour throughout the U.S. in 2012. The program is an effort by the United States government, in partnership with the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), to demonstrate respect and understanding of cultures by bringing international performing artists to the U.S. so that Americans can grow in their appreciation and understanding of other nations, while providing opportunities to international performers.

The Center Stage Artist Advisory Committee works with NEFA and Lisa Booth Management, Inc. to recommend artist ensembles from each country. For 2012, the Advisory Committee will help select ensembles from Haiti, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Each committee member is knowledgeable about artists and art forms from multiple countries, and has a strong history of cultural exchange and international programming. The following leaders from noted art institutions across the country have been selected to serve on the Advisory Committee this year:

Alicia Adams
Vice President Dance & International Programming
Kennedy Center
Washington, D.C.
Rachel Cooper
Director, Cultural Programming & Performing Arts
Asia Society
New York, NY
Bill Bragin
Director, Public Programming
Lincoln Center
New York, NY
Asad Jafri
Director of Arts & Culture
Inner-City Muslim Action Network
Chicago, IL
Robert Browning
Executive & Artistic Director
World Music Institute
New York, NY
Lily Kharrazi
Program Manager, Living Cultures Grants Program
Alliance for California Traditional Arts
San Francisco, CA

Center Stage will bring a total of ten ensembles from Haiti, Indonesia, and Pakistan for month-long tours of the U.S. in 2012, connecting artists with diverse communities in primarily small and mid-sized cities and towns across the U.S. With an emphasis on reaching diverse audiences as well as culturally and economically disadvantaged youth, each tour will be designed to include a range of community engagement activities, including performances, workshops, discussions, artist-to-artist exchanges, and community gatherings.

The Center Stage program is an unprecedented arts initiative of the U.S. government and Jafri’s selection to play a key role in it is: (1) a recognition of IMAN’s belief that the arts have the power to develop understanding and empathy across cultures, (2) a result of IMAN’s efforts at cultivating relationships with local and international artists, and (3) a continuation of Jafri’s personal contributions to the State Department’s recent engagement with arts and artists around the world. It also shows what an asset and resource a locally rooted and globally connected American Muslim community can be in building bridges of understanding between Americans and people from around the world.

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