[PAST EVENT] The Power of the Arts as a Diplomatic Tool 

February 19, 2024
Music Arts Center, Comey Recital Hall
551 Jamestown Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Access & Features
  • Open to the public
Carla Canales, photo by Flaminia Fanale
Carla Canales, photo by Flaminia Fanale

Carla Canales, Senior Advisor and Envoy for Cultural Exchange for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will deliver the 2024 McSwain-Walker Lecture at William & Mary on Monday, February 19 at 5pm in the Comey Recital Hall in the new Music Arts Center. The lecture, entitled "The Power of the Arts as a Diplomatic Tool" is free and open to the public.

Carla Canales has been praised by Opera Magazine for possessing a voice that “grabs the heartstrings with its dramatic force and musicality.” She has won acclaim on leading stages around the world as a performer while also being recognized as a thought leader, advocate, and entrepreneur. In early 2023, Carla joined the Biden Administration as the first Senior Advisor and Envoy for Cultural Exchange, a newly created position at the National Endowment for the Arts.

Carla is a 2023-24 Social Innovation and Change Initiative Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School. During the summer of 2023 she performed at the Sicily International Voice Festival with pianist Marcus Hadulla, and as a guest soloist on tour in Fujian, China. This year also marked her debut as a published author, with chapter contributions in two books on cultural diplomacy: “Soft Power and the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy” (Manchester University Press) and “Cultural Diplomacy: Issues and Perspectives” (Cognella Academic Publishing).

Carla has served as a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy since 2005. In 2022, she continued her work as an Arts Envoy in Indonesia, creating the Triple Threat Academy, a six month-long, virtual program. Carla was a 2021 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University, the youngest fellow in the history of the program to date. During her fellowship, she collaborated with Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs on a new self-created initiative entitled The Future of Cultural Diplomacy. In addition, in spring of 2022 Carla was an artist-in-residence at Wellesley College. In 2022-2023 she was also a Senior Fellow at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and did a guest residency at Denver University’s Korbel School of International Affairs, where she also performed at the Newman Center.

Carla has been a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities Turnaround Arts Program, was selected by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of its 100 Leading Global Thinkers and won the Medal of Excellence from the Sphinx Organization, which was presented to her at the Supreme Court by Justice Sotomayor. Carla was also named one of Musical America’s 30 Movers and Shapers of 2018. In each case, she was the first opera singer ever to receive the honor. In 2021, Carla became a member of the Recording Academy. Carla was honored as one of twenty selected alumni to receive the University of Michigan Bicentennial Alumni Award.

Carla is the founder of The Canales Project, a non-profit arts and advocacy organization through which she created Hear Her Song, a musical celebration of distinguished female leaders worldwide that commissions new songs written by female composers to honor them.

The annual McSwain-Walker Lecture brings renowned scholars, artists, analysts and other notable public figures to William & Mary to speak on topics related to how other countries and cultures interact with the United States, and how the United States interacts with them. Previous lecturers include Viet Thanh Nguyen, Haben Girma and Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter.

Sponsored by: Reves Center for International Studies


[[kjhoving,Kate Hoving, Reves Center]]