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Artists for Understanding is a new initiative that brings together a diverse community of artists and cultural luminaries who share a common belief in the power of the arts and humanities to counter hate. The initiative directly supports the objectives of the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism and the National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination, and builds upon the work of United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture. 

 In coordination with the White House, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Artists for Understanding promotes the arts and humanities as crucial in bridging divides through their capacity to foster dialogue, connection, empathy, and changemaking in communities. Through public forums, the initiative provides opportunities for broad engagement and increased awareness on the power of the arts and humanities to counter all forms of hate.  

 Between December 2023 and April 2024, Artists for Understanding hosted a series of virtual listening sessions for artists and cultural leaders to discuss their efforts to combat antisemitism, bias and discrimination against Arab, Muslim, Palestinian, Sikh, and South Asian-Americans, and other forms of hate.  These listening sessions have been critical in identifying key priorities for the initiative. Action areas include highlighting storytelling from marginalized communities, facilitating collaboration that demonstrates solidarity across cultural divides, and creating educational opportunities on the intersections and nuances between race, religion, ethnicity, and manifestations of hate.  Throughout 2024, the initiative will build upon the relationships and trust established through these listening sessions by partnering with artists, museums, libraries, and cultural institutions, to host convenings that address these action areas.

Convenings will take place in the following locations, with additional sites identified throughout the year:

  • New York City
  • Dearborn, MI
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • San Jose, CA
  • Houston, TX
  • Denver, CO

For more information, please contact Carla Dirlikov Canales, Senior Advisor and Envoy for Cultural Exchange at cdirlikov@IMLS.GOV.