World Culture in Context Partners with Center Stage!

Kurbasy, a folk-based multimedia performance group from Ukraine.

Since 2012, the Center Stage program has been bringing new artistic voices from outside of the United States to audiences around the U.S. for performance, conversation and engagement. Initiated by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and produced by the New England Foundation for the Arts, Center Stage has welcomed more than 300 artists to the United States. A previous Center Stage artist, Lundu, a spectacular ensemble from Peru, participated in an early version of CCV’s World Culture in Context (WCC) program. After seeing that model, Center Stage invited the Center for Cultural Vibrancy to partner on Season 8 of this successful model of cultural diplomacy. As part of the World Culture in Context program, CCV will design custom short films and educational curricula for artists from Pakistan, Ukraine, Egypt and Indonesia that highlights each artist and how they are connected to place.

Over the next few months, CCV staff will be traveling to visit with these artists to begin the process of launching this effort. Watch this site (and make sure to sign up for our updates!) as we add each of them to our artist roster. Artists will tour the US in 2024 and 2025. 

Season 8 Artists:

Kurbasy (Lviv, Ukraine)

Reaffirmation in a time of violence and resistance: Kurbasy’s 14-song cycle draws on the repertoires of the Eastern, Central and Western Regions of Ukraine. The language varies according to the origin of the songs, for example those of the border regions with Poland are in Lemsky dialect, a mixture of Ukrainian and Polish. The lyrics tell stories of boys and girls, stories of love, joy, but also of war.

Mohamed Abozekry (Cairo, Egypt)

Born in Cairo in 1991, Abozekry graduated at age 15 from the Arabic Oud house in Cairo. He was the youngest oud teacher in the Arab world, and in 2009 was awarded first prize at the International Oud Competition in Syria. His progression as an artist is expansive, expressing seemingly limitless virtuosity with an unbridled imagination.

Papermoon Puppet Theatre (Yogykarta, Indonesia)

Papermoon Puppet Theatre was founded in 2006 by illustrator, writer and theatre performer Maria (Ria) Tri Sulistyani and visual artist Iwan Effendi. Based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in a country with world-renowned puppetry traditions, the expert artists of Papermoon Puppet Theatre extend this form with their mixed-media productions that tell stories about the choices, values, circumstances and conflicts of everyday life. “Our stories are personal and focus on individuals. From there we can see the bigger issues.” – Ria Sulistyani 

Kumariyaan (Peshawar, Pakistan)

With its propulsive, furious sound, Khumariyaan, “The Intoxicators,” has reawakened the live music scene in Peshawar, the ancient crossroads through the Khyber Pass that links Pakistan and Afghanistan, and whose contemporary culture remains subject to attack from within and by outside factions. The lute-like Pashto rubab intertwines with the djembe-like zerbaghali (clay or wooden goblet drum) and sehtar (long-necked lute) that forms a traditional basis for this modern band.

Center Stage is a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts, with general management by LBMI.

Center Stage has been made possible in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, and with support from the Asian Cultural Council, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Luce Foundation, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. Additional funding has been provided by the Embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Yerevan, Armenia; Cairo, Egypt; Rabat, Morocco; and Islamabad, Pakistan.