Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 4, 2000

Kjell Skyllstad

Creating a Culture of Peace. The Performing Arts in Interethnic Negotiations


The Norwegian national institute for music dissemination (Rikskonsertene) initiated a three year school research project "Resonant Community" (1989 - 92). The project aimed at creating an understanding for the cultural traditions of immigrant communities in the Norwegian capital, and preventing discriminatory attitudes through an art program related to cultural traditions of the various immigrant groups.The project further aimed at releasing and promoting the artistic talents and ressources in these communities through cooperation with leading artists from countries of origin in the fields of music and dance. The author directed a comprehensive research program and published the main findings in a report Participating schools were found to benefit from the program through improved interethnic relation. Incidents of harassment were reduced and immigrant children with improved self image were found to find easier acceptance.
The Norwegian project was followed up through other intercultural initiatives, and led to a new profile in educational and cultural policy. A Norwegian multicultural music centre was founded, arranging a yearly world music festival.
The Department of Music and Theatre of the University of Oslo has been responsible for cooperation programs with countries where interethnic problems have called for new initiatives. A cooperation program with the Institute of Aesthetic Studies in Sri Lanka has led to intercultural initiatives including an Asian multicultural music festival. Cooperation with University institutes in Croatia and Slovenia and Israel have likewise been centered on the role of the arts in conflict transformation. Experiences from an Israeli/Palestinian childrens' choir project are discussed within the general background of intercultural relations.

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