New Zealand Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia
The Joy of Cultural Diplomacy
From the Ambassador's most recent blog post.
One of the challenges in any relationship is helping the other side to understand your perspective. Who you are. What you represent. Why things are one way not another.
Culture can be a powerful tool. It can connect people. It can explain. It can show. And it can excite.
I’ve just been in New Zealand on holiday, with the timing determined by Bruce Springsteen’s two Auckland concerts. Yes, I’m a big fan and have been since the mid 1970s.
The point of sharing this tidbit is that at both concerts, Springsteen began with a solo acoustic cover of “Royals”. That amazing song, recorded by 17 year old New Zealand musician Lorde, was top of the Billboard US charts last year and has earned Lorde the 2014 Grammy for the best single of the year.
By playing that song, and tweaking the lyric, Bruce reached out to and connected with the 80,000 kiwis who attended his two shows. Cultural diplomacy. I want to know you – I want to connect with you was Springsteen’s message.
While I was back home, Peter Gontha’s Java Jazz Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary. I think it’s now the world’s largest jazz festival and it has brought great joy to hundreds of thousands of concert goers over the years.
I salute Peter, his daughter Dewi and his wonderful team for all they’ve done over the years, especially Paul Dankmeyer with whom we’ve worked each year we’ve helped a New Zealand artist to perform.
This year the Embassy collaborated with Java Jazz to bring Bela Kalolo and her band from Wellington. They performed high powered r’n'b and soul and played to large crowds. Checkout her vibrant and exciting music here www.bellakalolo.com
This was our effort to show that we have great talent too, artists who can excite. We hoped to develop some interest in New Zealand. In addition to Java Jazz, an open performance at the Black Cat jazz club and at Paramadina University enabled us to reach out to a wider audience.
A third current example, is the effort by kiwi Vaughan Hatch and his Indonesian wife Evie to share traditional Indonesian Gamelan music with audiences across New Zealand and Australia. They believe that sharing this unique Indonesian cultural art form will help raise awareness about Indonesia and its culture. I agree and wish them well. Some examples of their work can be seen here, and here.
Three shots of culture in this blog. Each connecting, informing and exciting. Soft diplomacy remains a useful tool to advance relationships.