Asia Society is the leading global and pan-Asian organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of the United States and Asia. We seek to increase knowledge and enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of policy, business, education, arts, and culture.
Founded in 1956, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Seoul, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington, DC.
BAM’s mission is to be the preeminent, progressive performing & cinema arts center of the twenty-first century, engaging both global and local communities. Its enduring purpose is to provide a distinctive environment in which its audiences—annually, more than 500,000 people from a wide geographic area—may experience a broad array of challenging and enriching aesthetic/cultural programs.
NYU Center for Dialogues
The NYU Center for Dialogues was launched as a structured forum for sustained dialogue involving voices from the various religious, intellectual, economic, and political sectors of Muslim and American / Western societies, including those non-elite Muslim figures with proven credibility in their communities who are too often unheard in the West.
Based on this sustained dialogue, the Center is committed to a number of academic, policy, and outreach activities, including conferences on a variety of critically important topics today-the clash of perceptions, elections, the nature of authority in the Islamic world and in the West, Muslims in the West, the role of the media, and education, among others.
The Center is unique among comparable institutions at American universities for combining public outreach and international conferences, academic study, and policy review and recommendations. Government leaders and other relevant authorities and organizations, including media decision-makers, attend the meetings in order to help effect policy change and alter public perceptions. Findings from the Center are also published as policy papers, as well as in book form, and are disseminated to educational institutions worldwide for use by students, faculty, and researchers.
Moreover, the Center for Dialogues is creating a network of leaders who will continue to communicate with and consult one another for years to come-a valuable network for negotiating peace in times of crisis.
Vishakha N. Desai, Asia Society President
Vishakha N. Desai is president of Asia Society, a global organization dedicated to preparing Asians and Americans for a shared future, where she leads the institution's activities in the areas of policy, business, arts, culture and education. She is a frequent lecturer at international gatherings and a commentator in the media addressing cultural, social, and political trends and their implications for the U.S.-Asia relationship and Asian regional ties.
Appointed president in 2004, Dr. Desai is leading an institutional expansion that includes a new India Centre in Mumbai which opened in 2006, and planned multi-million dollar facilities in Hong Kong and Houston. She received her BA in political science from Bombay University and an MA and PhD in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan. A recipient of numerous awards, including one of the "50 most distinguished Indian Americans," (India Abroad), and as one of the "100 most powerful women leaders" in New York (Crains), and has four honorary degrees.
Dr. Desai is committed to public service and serves on the boards of The Brookings Institution, Citizens Committee for New York City, Asian University for Women and the New York City Advisory Commission for Cultural Affairs.
Listen in as Dr. Desai describes the unique role the arts can play in fostering closer understanding, both between people and between nations. This video clip is presented as part of the broader Culture and Policy coverage to be found on this site.
Rachel Cooper, Director, Cultural Programs & Performing Arts, Asia Society
Rachel Cooper has been at the Asia Society since 1993 where she is the Director of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts. She has extensive experience in the presentation of traditional and contemporary Asian and Asian-American arts and culture. She oversees the development and presentation of Asia Society programs in music, dance, theater, film, literature. These programs include performances, film screenings, lectures, panels and symposia. She works closely with the Asia Society Museum to create programs in conjunction with all exhibitions. Her work has included commissioning and presenting new works from Asian and Asian American artists. Recent programs have included The Rumi Project including Iranian musician Shahram Nazeri, poet Coleman Barks, among others, and Bhutan: Dragons, Kings and Politicians a symposium and performance.
Ms. Cooper has produced and presented traditional and contemporary performing artists including Eiko and Koma, Chen Shi Zheng, Vijay Iyer, and Yin Mei. Most recently commissioning and producing Kinsmen/Svajanam with Rudresh Mahanthappa and Kadri Gopalnath; In What Language, a theatrical work for music and spoken word by composer Vijay Iyer and poet Mike Ladd; The Floating Box: A Story of Chinatown a chamber opera by Jason Hwang; 18 Songs of a Nomad Flute: The Story of Wenji a bi-lingual opera by Bun-Ching Lam; Forgiveness, a music theater work conceived and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and Noh master Akira Matsui. She has collaborated on several touring projects including a twelve-city tour Dance:the Spirit of Cambodia, with a company of 41 artists from Cambodia and an eight-city tour by Ratan Thiyam’s Chorus Repertory Theatre from Manipur, India.
Ms. Cooper was previously the Associate Director of the UCLA Center for Intercultural Performance, where she directed the Festival of Indonesia In Performance program that brought twelve traditional and contemporary performing arts groups from Indonesia to tour and perform in the United States. Ms. Cooper is the co-founder, former director, of the San Francisco-based Balinese music and dance company, Gamelan Sekar Jaya. In 2006 Ms. Cooper received the William Dawson Award for Programming Excellence from the Association of Arts Presenters.
Karen Brooks Hopkins, BAM President
Karen Brooks Hopkins is the president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where she has worked since 1979. In May 2004, Hopkins concluded a two-year term as the Chair of The Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), which consists of 33 prominent New York City cultural institutions. Hopkins is also an active member of the Performing Arts Center Consortium, a national association of performing arts centers, and served as its chair from 1994 to 1996. In 2006, she was elected by the New York State Legislature to the Board of Regents for a term expiring in 2010. Hopkins also serves on the Board of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
Among the many honors bestowed upon Hopkins are the Encore Award in Arts Management Excellence from the Arts & Business Council of New York, Norway’s King Olav Medal, a medal from the Royal Dramatic Theater of Sweden, and France’s Chevalier de L’Ordre des arts et des Lettres. In 2007, she was named one of the “100 Most Influential Women in New York City Business” by Crain’s. That same year, she was appointed Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, in recognition of her role in solidifying ties between the performing arts communities of Sweden and the United States.
Hopkins was an adjunct professor for the Brooklyn College Program for Arts Administration for four years. Her widely read book, Successful Fundraising for Arts & Cultural Organizations is available in a revised second edition through Greenwood Publishing.
Listen in as Hopkins describes the unique cultural, social and diplomatic importance Muslim Voices has held and the resonance of the festival going forward. This video clip is presented as part of the broader Culture and Policy coverage to be found on this site.
Joseph V. Melillo, BAM Executive Producer
Joseph V. Melillo, executive producer since 1999, is responsible for the artistic direction of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Over the years, Melillo has fostered the work of emerging artists such as choreographer John Jasperse, director Anne Bogart, and musician/composers David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe while continuing to provide an artistic home for BAM regulars such as choreographer Pina Bausch, directors Jonathan Miller and Sam Mendes, and composer Steve Reich.
He was named a Chevalier (1999) and an Officier (2004) de L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the French Legion of Honor. Also in 2004, Melillo was awarded an honorary OBE for his outstanding commitment to British performing arts in America. In 2007, he was appointed Knight of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, in recognition of his role in solidifying ties between the performing arts communities of Sweden and the United States.
Melillo has served on the faculty of the Brooklyn College Graduate Program in Arts Management and on the boards of directors for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and En Garde Arts. He was a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts Dance Program and the New York State Council on the Arts. Melillo is a lecturer at colleges and universities nationally and internationally. Most recently, he served as Multidisciplinary Panel Chair of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts 2003 and 2007 Awards.
Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director, NYU Center for Dialogues
Sorbonne-educated, Mustapha Tlili is the founder and director of the Center for Dialogues, a research scholar at New York University, and senior fellow at its Remarque Institute. Previously, Prof. Tlili taught at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and was a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute of New School University. He is a former senior UN official, having served as director for communications policy in the United Nations Department of Public Information, director of the UN Information Center for France, based in Paris, and chief of the Namibia, Anti-Apartheid, Palestine and decolonization programs in the same department.
An established novelist, Mustapha Tlili is a knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters. He is also a member of Human Rights Watch’s Advisory Committee for the Middle East and North Africa. Prof. Tlili served as a member of the Leadership Group on US-Muslim World Engagement, along with Madeleine Albright, Dennis Ross, Richard Armitage, and other American political and cultural leaders. Last September, the group issued its report under the title, “Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World”.
Senior Project Advisor, Zeyba Rahman
Zeyba Rahman develops and directs integrated cultural and educational platforms for performing, visual and literary arts as well as film. From 1997-2007, Rahman served as a Director of Morocco’s Fès Festival of World Sacred Music and its companion Fès Forum. In her capacity as the Senior Project Advisor for Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas, Rahman has helped to create the project’s structure, serving on the curatorial team and overseeing the project’s program partnerships while advising on marketing and media strategies. Based in New York City, Rahman is the Chairwoman of World Music Institute.
In this exclusive interview, listen in as Zeyba Rahman reflects on the broader ways that, in her words, "culture connects emotionally, through the heart." Rahman's clip is part of the Community Voices featured on this website.
Katayoun Beglari-Scarlet, Film Co-Curator for Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas
As senior international correspondent for Voice of America TV, Beglari-Scarlet has spent much of the past six years covering the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, and has interviewed leaders including Jimmy Carter and Shimon Peres. Her beat also includes cultural events with coverage of figures in the arts such as Laila Allwi, Youssef Chahine, Marwan Hamed, Abbas Kiarostami, Emir Kusturica, John Malkovich, Shirin Neshat, Isabella Rossellini, Salman Rushdie, Martin Scorsese, Omar Sharif and Yusra. In 2000, Beglari-Scarlet together with with Azar Nafisi, author of "Reading 'Lolita' in Tehran", co-curated a restrospective of the films of Abbas Kiarostam for the American Film Institute in Washington DC. Beglari-Scarlet has also served as program consultant for the Beirut, Cairo and Tribeca Film Festivals. She was born in Tehran and lives in New York City.
Peter Scarlet, Film Co-Curator for Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas
Peter Scarlet has been a pivotal voice in international film for over thirty years. From his current position as Executive Director at the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi to his work in New York, San Francisco, Paris, Marrakech, Kabul, Iraq, and countless other cities and countries, Scarlet’s impact stretches across borders and boundaries.
For seven years Scarlet served as Artistic/ Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) in New York City, helping make TFF one of the major events on the international film festival calendar. His commitment to diverse programming brought to the screen such films as Taxi to the Dark Side, which went on to become the 2007 Oscar-winner for Best Documentary Feature.
Throughout his career Peter Scarlet has been committed to bridging cultural gaps, promoting artistic and cultural diversity, and providing a platform for emerging artists. While serving as the Artistic/Executive Director at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Scarlet introduced such pivotal film makers as Spike Lee, Christopher Nolan, Jane Campion, Léos Carax, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, and Guy Maddin. He spearheaded a cross cultural film course in Marrakech, created a program to return comedic cinema to the people of Afghanistan by screening the comedies by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and curated “Cinemondo” which broadcasts contemporary international films in America.
Scarlet has been appointed an Officier and Chavlier in the Order of Arts and Letters by France’s Ministry of Culture, and the City of San Francisco officially designated May 3, 2001 as Peter Scarlet Day.
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