The Role of Arts and Culture in an Open Society
By Chris Stone
You could say it takes a wild imagination to picture a truly open society—one where freedom of expression and democracy are paramount, and where no one holds a monopoly on the truth. Envisioning such a world is the starting point for the Open Society Foundations’ work. And often, it is the arts that make manifest that vision, lending form to our goals and ideals.
We have long supported artistic endeavors that aim to inspire this type of change. Our Serbian and Kosovo foundations worked with both of those governments to create a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a metaphor for promoting reconciliation between the two countries which brought the audience to tears. We supported a photography exhibition designed to prompt debate about official government apologies in advance of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. And our foundation in Haiti helped bring to the stage a theater festival aimed at civic-minded youth to spur debate on issues ranging from corruption to intellectual freedom.
In each of these instances, the arts have been key to bringing about positive change. We will continue to support arts and culture as we work to propel the ideals of open society forward. By giving shape and voice to the goals we’re striving to achieve, we remind ourselves that the world we hope to someday see already exists in our creative endeavors.