The U.S. Department of State’s Arts Envoy Program funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural affairs (ECA) brought together key artists, influencers, and community leaders from The United States, India, and Bangladesh, to the city of Kolkata this month. The collaborative project titled Border Narratives, implemented by the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata in partnership with non-governmental organization banglanatak dot com, will develop a series of community-based performances on shared experiences across borders, led by two artist envoys from Bond Street Theater, New York.
For many people, the word ‘border’ invokes bitter-sweet memories and a myriad of perspectives. Cross-border narratives are not only about shattered lives, broken families, immense hardship, but also the spirit of human endurance and zest for life, reconstruction and reformation.
India and Bangladesh share a 4,097 km long border, one that is prone to transnational crimes. As with many vulnerable and conflict-ridden areas of the world, we often see that women are disproportionately affected and are perceived to not have the social status, knowledge, or skills to step into the role of peacebuilders and mediators. The project, which coincides with the global international campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, will have a special focus on stories of women across borders who have played an active role in dispute resolution, countering violence, access to justice, and fostering economic empowerment.
The workshop was held at the American Center, Kolkata from November 26 to December 8, 2018, followed by a series of performances in some of the border districts, educational institutions, the Indian Museum, and a grand finale at the American Center Kolkata on December 13, 2018.
Jamie Dragon, the Director of American Center and the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata said, “Regional connectivity and cross border stability are a key focus of the U.S. Government in this region. Connectivity is about building ties among people, institutions, governments, states, and countries. It means making sure that borders are not barriers and art is a great medium to build connections and ties across borders among the people of India and Bangladesh.”U.S. Consul General Patricia Hoffman was also present at the event.