President & CEO Caitlin Strokosch reflects on cross-cultural partnerships

September 13, 2019  •  2 minute read

This past May, NPN’s President & CEO Caitlin Strokosch served as a panelist for the Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC) and the National Endowment for the Arts’ US/Japan Creative Artists Fellowship Program.

While the program has been supporting artist fellowships since 1978, this year offered a unique opportunity to connect the awards to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Rather than selecting individual US artists, the program was redesigned this year to award partnerships between US and Japanese artists to co-create work to premiere during the Olympics and reflect on the themes of the games: unity, collaboration, and the long-time friendship between the United States and Japan.

Strokosch notes, “The selection process was really exciting, to take this 40-year program and reimagine it for this extraordinary occasion. There was incredibly thoughtful discussion about what makes an authentic partnership and collaboration, and what it means to bring cultures and art forms together in reciprocity, rather than dilution or assimilation. On a practical note, we were also challenged to gauge feasibility while still being open to unexpected outcomes. I’m so grateful for NPN’s US-Japan Connection program (which sunset in 2018) and to the colleagues at the JUSFC and Tokyo’s International House for offering important context and perspective on supporting work that is respectful of Japanese cultures. The awardees all bring their own mix of curiosity, artistry, and inquiry to their work—it’s an incredible group of projects! In these times of increasing xenophobia, these deep, intimate, sustained engagements that require real co-creation and co-imagination are essential to our ability to co-exist.”

The funded projects range from a performance combining martial arts, music, video, and motion sensors to a mobile haiku-writing room capturing stories from Fukushima survivors and giant murals created with youth to celebrate innovators in sports, science, and education.

For more information, read the full press release.