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Cablegate: Baghdad Requests Participation in the Rhythm Road American

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #3051/01 2661427
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221427Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9543
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 003051

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO ECA/PE/C/CU, NEA/PPD, NEA/I

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OEXC SCUL IZ
SUBJECT: BAGHDAD REQUESTS PARTICIPATION IN THE RHYTHM ROAD AMERICAN
MUSIC ABROAD PROGRAM'S NEW SEASON

REF: State 090853

SUMMARY

1. (U) Embassy Baghdad requests participation in the Rhythm Road
American Music Abroad Program during the winter of 2009, preferably
at the end of February. Post would like to host a Jazz quartet, for
a total of six programming days. Our audience will consist of
important mission contacts, including some our strongest NGO
partners both in Baghdad and in the provinces who have limited
access to live American cultural performances. End summary.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

2. (U) Post proposes a six-day program, not counting travel days,
featuring the group on tour both performing and conducting
educational workshops in a variety of venues. Day 1 will start with
a presentation at the University of Baghdad's School of Music to
illustrate different jazz styles to the students. Later that day,
the group will link up with the Tawasin Cultural Assembly to trade
ideas in a fusion working session combining jazz with traditional
Iraqi music. On Day 2, the group will fly to Najaf Province where
they will give a workshop to the students of Kufa University
followed by a concert performance in the city of Najaf later that
day. On Day 3, the group will fly to Anbar Province for a workshop
demonstration and performance at a local middle or high school and
then return to Baghdad that same day. On Day 4 the group will
co-present, with the Tawasin Assembly, a workshop and performance
for disabled youth connected with the Iraq Handicapped Society. The
rest of the day and all of Day 5 will be a practice session with the
Tawasin Assembly preparing for the final large scale public concert,
which will be held on Day 6 at the Al-Rasheed Hotel in the
International Zone in Baghdad. Post's preferred week for this
schedule would be beginning on Monday, February 23rd but we can push
it forward to the first week of March, if necessary.

-
PUBLIC DIPLOMACY THROUGH CULTURAL EXCHANGE
-
3. (U) The American-Iraq relationship is steadily transforming into
a more normal bilateral relationship based upon cultural, economic
and political ties. Cultural exchange, including bringing American
performers to Iraq, is a key component of this transformation. Post
has not taken advantage of the Rhythm Road program previously.
However, with a progressively more stable security environment, we
believe this is the right time to bring American performers to
Baghdad and the provinces to showcase American culture. A direct
exposure to American arts is critical to creating mutual
understanding between the citizens of the United States and Iraq.

-
INVOLVING YOUNG AND DISABLED PEOPLE
-
4. (U) Iraq has two generations of youth whose major understanding
of life is through the lens of violence and war. The physical and
psychological legacy of this history is evident in many of the young
people here. There is an opportunity for the Embassy to provide an
outlet for mending bodies and minds through music. We intend to host
performances and workshops with college level as well as younger
students. We also are directing attention to those young people who
are disabled and who have limited options in encountering
interactive cultural programming and meeting Americans.

-
INVOLVING LOCAL MUSICIANS
-
5. (U) Due to Iraq's political isolation during much of the last
thirty years, intellectual, educational and cultural exchanges have
been severely limited. Iraq's unique musical traditions have not
been widely exposed to Western audiences and vice versa. With a new
openness in cultural expression occurring in the country, there is a
desire from Iraqi performers to seek out new forms of musical
identity and the blending of jazz and traditional music is a
potential realization towards this ideal. Tawasin Cultural Assembly
is one of Baghdad's premier arts organizations and the Assembly's
musicians would be essential agents in helping the Embassy traverse
boundaries to more dynamically interact with local audiences.

-
ITINERARY
-
6. (U) The proposed itinerary follows:

-- Sunday, February 22: Quartet arrives Baghdad.

-- Monday February 23: Presentation to students at the University of
Baghdad followed by a private working session with the Tawasin
Cultural Assembly.

-- Tuesday, February 24: Flight to Najaf province and presentation

to students at University of Kufa followed by a performance in
Najaf.

-- Wednesday, February 25: Flight to Anbar province and performance
at local school. Flight to Erbil province.

-- Thursday, February 26: Workshop and performance for students held
in conjunction with Kurdish musical faculty in Erbil or the American
University Iraq-Salmaniya.

-- Friday, February 27: Return to Baghdad to host workshop and
performance with Tawasin Cultural Assembly for disabled children
followed by private working session and practice with Tawasin
members.

-- Saturday, February 28: General performance with Tawasin Cultural
Assembly at the Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad.

-- Sunday, March 1: Quartet leaves Baghdad for next post.

-
POST SUPPORT
-
7. (U) Post is prepared to generate the audience, build partnerships
with local co-hosting organizations, provide translation, lodging,
meals, security, in-country transportation and address all technical
aspects associated with this program. For planning purposes, post
will need a list of musicians, baggage including
instruments/equipment, with weights as soon as it is available.


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