UAArt: Born In Cold To Warm Through Arts

Posted on August 23, 2011


Long Russian winters provoke all sorts of endeavors. Locals find their comfort in ice-cold vodka and old folk songs, chastushki. Members of the International Women’s Club (IWC) in Moscow found a solution using a slightly different combination and experimented with arts and diplomacy. The United Ambassadors of Art (UAArt) was created. UAArt brings together arts and diplomacy to promote and encourage cultural dialog.

UAArt founders at the gala in Armenia, 2011

History of Art & Diplomacy

Artistic expression and the diplomatic process date back to medieval times.  As Svetlana Bagaudinova writes in her Sketches of Art and Diplomacy, royalty used to dispatch painters/ambassadors to make portraits of suitable brides. So, the bridal portrait was a vital element for royal matchmaking. During the Cold War, the exchange of artists, musicians and famous ballet dancers created invaluable bridges of understanding and promoted mutual dialogue between Russian and American people.

About UAArt

Julieta Cervantes, Nathalie Trembley-Sierro, Zara Ouzounian-Halpin and Laura Schueneman came to Moscow for unrelated reasons.  Interest in arts and cultures brought them together within IWC. They formed a common bond and began cross-cultural explorations. Next thing they knew they were volunteering to put together a cultural event. Thanks to their persistence and long-established friendships they engaged ambassadors representing Brazil , Spain,  the European Union in Russia to paint for charity.

Some of the participating Ambassadors, Artists & UAArt representatives at the gala event in Armenia, 2011

“The Ambassadors who participated had an absolute blast getting their creative juices flowing (many for the first time since childhood),” recalled Laura Schueneman, Communications Director at UAArt in an e-mail correspondence.

A success formula emerged naturally: partner diplomats with artists. Artists were represented by painter Dmitry Sandjiev  in Moscow and sculptor Arman “Nur” Davtian in Armenia.  Artists were no less thrilled then their counterparts in diplomacy. “They jumped in with both feet,” wrote Laura. “The artists combined their love of artistic creation by assisting influential ambassadors develop a more integrated society.”

The public fully embraced the idea. In a separate e-mail exchange Zara Uzunian-Haplin, Director of Programs at UAArt wrote, “The public recognized that we’re not just fancy dinners, pictures, and fun. We are raising funds for art and education.”

The event was a success, the momentum was at its peak, and UAArt claimed its place in the realm of cultural bridge-building.

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See the full Catalogue of UAArt Moscow-Event, 2011.

Challenges & Next Steps

According to the Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2010 56th Annual Issue charitable giving in the United States increased compared to the last two years reaching  $290.89 billion.  Despite the growth in figures, the road ahead is still rocky and uncertain.  Writing about the obstacles, Laura confirmed that the economy is not as buoyant as their ambassadors and artists. But the reward is the dialogue that results when a country’s most influential ambassadors and its most notable artists light up a room.

Only a few months old, UAArt has already held two successful events in Russia and Armenia.

This group of ambitious and well-connected women is committed to their mission. They now have set their sights on Berlin, Germany.  After Berlin, they are looking at warmer and more challenging climates: Africa and the Middle East.  Here they come!

Here is a clip of the gala  at  Cafesjian Center for the Arts  in Yerevan, Armenia.

Photos were provided by UAArt.