UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education
Abstract Title: Combating Terror: Security Through Arts Education
1. The huge emphasis on security in the post 911 political environment, has provided new opportunities for arts education to contribute to culture and as a result, to a more secure world. This paper argues that by supporting cultural identity through arts education at all levels, we can offset root causes of terrorism.
2. Responses to terrorism have been immediate and direct. Governments around the world have implemented policies aimed at increased national security, massively increasing spending on defense. Much of the blame for terrorist activities is focused on cultural attitudes, such as religious dogma and extreme fundamentalist interpretations of belief. However, while security analysts acknowledge this as a major cause, a prior and more significant cause may be identified as social despair and a sense of hopelessness resulting from oppression, ignorance, poverty and injustice( perceived or actual); this results in a sense of disaffection, where groups feel culturally alienated and without hope. It is these social conditions which create the environment where fundamentalism can grow.
3. This paper discusses examples of how a
strengthening of cultural awareness and recognition through the arts, has
contributed to a greater sense of identity, status and respect. Examples will be
drawn from a joint exhibition project by Palestinian and Israeli artists, a
project with women artists in
4. The most effective mechanism for supporting cultural identity is education. Migrant communities around the world preserve their identity by teaching traditional culture to their children, preserving the heritage of their ancestors. The best embodiment of cultural traditions is found in the arts; it is through the arts that the values, forms and events which shape identity, preserve tradition and reinforce culture are embodied; when we refer to culture we think of the arts.
5. Addressing security issues through arts education constitutes a shift in thinking from solving the problem to removing the cause. Both dimensions are integral to a secure world, but an approach through considering cultural support, allows artists, designers, musicians, poets, and more, professionals characterized by their creativity, through education, to apply that creativity in the support of culture and a more secure world. Education in its arts is the cornerstone by which a culture survives, through which it identifies itself and in which it expresses its values. UNESCO and its NGOs can have a crucial role in the stabilizing of culture and with it, an artistically rich and secure world.