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Arts and culture help us explore the human spirit and our commonality.

Arts and culture help us explore the human spirit and our commonality. Studying our cultural history and heritage remind us of the ways in which we have struggled, failed, succeeded, and imperfectly carried on and created meaning in our lives and communities. Given the extent of strife, warfare, disease, and disaster (manmade and natural) in today’s world, this is a good time to check out the work of artists and organizations that are making the connections. Below are a few examples. There are so many more so please feel free to share your own…

Heritage for Peace (HFP) is an international group of heritage workers who believe that cultural heritage is a common ground for dialogue and a tool to build peace. Currently focusing its efforts in Syria, HFP believes that Syria’s shared cultural heritage can serve as an important ground for dialogue and peacemaking, even during the conflict. If you visit their site, be sure to listen to a performance of the world’s oldest known annotated music, Hymn to Nikkal, from 12th century BC.

Arts to End Violence in Crown Heights, New York is a festival and contest that brings together some of the many artistic expressions of peace in the neighborhood and beyond in order to spread the message of nonviolence. Diverse artwork submitted by young and old, professional and novice, explores topics including the cyclical nature of violence, media and stereotyping, gang culture, and ultimately a shared vision and hope for peace in our streets. Arts to End Violence is a special initiative of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, and is coordinated by the Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets program in conjunction with various community partner organizations.

While the entire world has been left with no option than working together to find the cause and cure of the outbreak of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, Ghanaian hiplife/rap artist Opanka is musically creating awareness about the deadly virus with his new single, ‘Ebola’. It is recorded on Shatta Wale’s album, ‘My Homeland', ahead of his much anticipated upcoming single, ‘Brother', which will be released on August 12, 2014.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland supports communities across Northern Ireland and the border areas of the Republic to tackle sectarianism and racism through a creative engagement process leading to the creation of public art.

Last week, I wrote about the Urban Arts Leadership Program. Join us next Tuesday, August 12 at The Parlor at 5 W. Mt. Vernon Place (part of The Walters Art Museum) for a Brown Bag House Talk to learn more and to get involved. You can RSVP to the event here.

All the best,

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