May 24, 2017, 12:15 pm - December 5, 2022, 7:41 am


The Middle East Institute
1319 18th Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

The role of the arts in international relations and diplomacy as a means of facilitating cross-cultural understanding and building more tolerant societies has long been demonstrated. Similarly, the effectiveness of the arts in peacebuilding, conflict resolution, and relief efforts is gaining recognition alongside more traditional approaches.

The Middle East Institute's (MEI) Arts and Culture Program is pleased to host a panel discussion with three experts who have used the arts on the global stage to build bridges, address reconciliation, and increase international understanding of crises ranging from Syria to Mali.

Panelists Michael Goldfarb (Doctors Without Borders), Michael Orlove (National Endowment for the Arts), and Cynthia Schneider (Georgetown University) will draw from their experiences to provide greater insight into the critical role of arts initiatives internationally and in times of crisis. Tara Sonenshine, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and distinguished fellow at George Washington University, will moderate.

This event is part of A Special Arts Program on the Human Impact of the Syrian Conflict, organized in partnership with Goethe Institut and Gallery Al Quds at the Jerusalem Fund.

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Speaker Biographies:
Michael Goldfarb
Communications Director, Doctors Without Borders
Michael Goldfarb is the communications director at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) USA, a post he assumed in the summer of 2015. He oversees all public communications activities, including media relations, public events, digital and print platforms, and emergency and advocacy communications initiatives and campaigns. He first joined MSF as a press officer in 2005, later becoming media relations director. Goldfarb has extensive experience in the field, working as an emergency communications coordinator, media liaison, and content producer. He has worked in Afghanistan; Cameroon; Democratic Republic of Congo; Haiti; Iraq; Jordan; Kenya; Lebanon; Niger; the Palestinian Territories; Rockaway, Queens (post-Hurricane Sandy); South Sudan; Uganda; and Yemen in settings ranging from conflict zones to natural disasters and refugee camps, and in contexts including epidemics and other medical emergencies. He holds a master's in international affairs degree from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where he concentrated on international media and communications and the Middle East. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from York University in Toronto.

Michael Orlove
Director, Artist Communities, Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works; International Activities Coordinator, National Endowment for the Arts
Michael Orlove currently serves as the director of Artist Communities and Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works for the National Endowment for the Arts and has responsibility over the NEA's international programs. Orlove provides oversight on grants for presenting and artist communities projects and manages international partnership programs. A native of Chicago, Orlove spent 19 years as senior program director for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. His tenure with the department led to nearly two decades of innovation, creativity, and passion for public service with the City of Chicago. Orlove helped transform the Chicago Cultural Center into a prime downtown performing arts venue, as well as launched Chicago SummerDance and World Music Festival: Chicago, two staples in the summer festival season. Orlove also served as the director of music programming in Millennium Park since its grand opening in 2004 and helped establish many of the program series in that venue. As a testament to his international expertise, Orlove was named one of the 'Seven Samurai’ at the prestigious World Music Expo 2009 Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition, he has been a guest speaker at numerous national and international conferences such as the 2010 Performing Arts Market in Seoul, South Korea, and the 2003 Sacred Music Festival and Conference in Fez, Morocco. Honors include being named one of the 'Chicagoans of the Year' in music by the Chicago Tribune in both 1999 and 2009, as well as one of Chicago's 'Global Visionaries' by Chicago Public Radio WBEZ and the Chicago Matters: Beyond Burnham series.

Cynthia Schneider
 Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; Co-Founding Director, Global Lab for Performance and Politics.
Cynthia P. Schneider teaches, publishes, and organizes initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on relations with the Muslim world. At the Brookings Institution she leads the Arts and Culture Initiative within the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The Initiative’s activities include research, convening meetings in the United States and abroad and catalyzing projects such as the Muslims on Screen and Television Initiative, which Schneider co-directs, and which provides valuable resources and accurate information on Islam and Muslims for the U.S. entertainment community. Schneider also has consulted in the area of cultural diplomacy for the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. Schneider teaches courses in Diplomacy and Culture in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where, from 1984-2005, she was a member of the art history faculty, and published on Rembrandt and seventeenth century Dutch art. She also organized exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Schneider publishes and speaks frequently on topic related to arts, culture, and media and international affairs, particularly the Muslim world. Her writings range from blogs for the Huffington Post and to policy papers for the Brookings Institution. She held a Research Fellowship from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy to write a policy paper, 'Public Diplomacy and Culture in Afghanistan and Pakistan.' Her talks include a TED presentation on the global impact of American Idol, as well as speeches on the role of arts and culture in the U.S.-Islamic world relationship in venues from Kurdistan to Cairo.

Tara Sonenshine
Former undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; Distinguished Fellow, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University
Tara D. Sonenshine is a former Shapiro Fellow and Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. She is the former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs for the Department of State and previously served as the Executive Vice President of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).  Prior to joining USIP, she was a strategic communications adviser to many international organizations including USIP, the International Crisis Group, Internews, CARE, The American Academy of Diplomacy, and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Sonenshine served in various capacities at the White House during the Clinton Administration, including Transition Director, Director of Foreign Policy Planning for the National Security Council, and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications.   Prior to serving in the Clinton Administration, Sonenshine was an Editorial Producer of ABC News’ Nightline, where she worked for more than a decade.  She was also an off-air reporter at the Pentagon for ABC’s World News Tonight and is the recipient of 10 News Emmy Awards for coverage of international affairs.  She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University.