Asia Society, BAM, and New York University Center for Dialogues Present 'Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas'


A ten-day, multi-venue arts festival and conference celebrating the extraordinary range of artistic expression throughout the Muslim world

Singer Youssou N'Dour, visual artist Shirin Neshat, actor Naseeruddin Shah, and choreographer/dancer Sardono Kusumo highlight the festival

In celebration of the extraordinary range of artistic expression in the Muslim world, BAM, Asia Society, and New York University's Center for Dialogues proudly present Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas. Muslim artists and speakers spanning the globe from as far away as Asia, Africa, the Middle East and as near as Brooklyn will gather for an unprecedented ten-day festival and conference. Through performances, films, exhibitions, talks, and other events—ranging from the traditional (calligraphy, storytelling, and Sufi chanting) to the contemporary (video installations and Arabic hip-hop)—the festival offers New York audiences the opportunity to experience and learn about the cultural diversity and multiple perspectives that represent the Muslim world.

World renowned singer Youssou N'Dour will open the festival at BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Avenue) on Friday, June 5 at 8pm. Additional festival highlights will feature artists from India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan, among others. Tickets for Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas events at BAM are currently on sale at or 718-636-4100. Tickets for Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas events at Asia Society go on sale on February 15, 2009 at or (212) 517-ASIA. Further information may be found at

In addition to the mainstage offerings and complementary education and humanities events from Asia Society, BAM, and NYU Center for Dialogues, programs associated with the Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas festival will take place at locations including: Austrian Cultural Forum New York, Brooklyn Museum, MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The New York Public Library.

"No more pressing issue faces the world today than the profound lack of understanding between Western and Islamic societies," said Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai. "Most non-Muslim Americans have very limited exposure to and even misconceptions about Islam, the world's second-largest religion."

Mustapha Tlili, NYU Center for Dialogues Founder and Director, added, "The divide between the United States and the Muslim world is rooted in hard political issues such as the question of Palestine, the war in Iraq, relations with Iran, and other points of contention. Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas aims to help change perceptions, foster mutual understanding and respect between the two sides, and pave the way for the solution of the hard issues."

In addition to the mainstage offerings and complementary education and humanities events from Asia Society, BAM, and NYU Center for Dialogues, programs associated with the Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas festival will take place at locations including: Austrian Cultural Forum New York, Brooklyn Museum, MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The New York Public Library.

"Asia Society, BAM and NYU Center for Dialogues would like to thank the many donors who have supported this complex and worthwhile project," said BAM's President Karen Brooks Hopkins. "We were brought together by a need to create common ground, and a shared feeling that the arts can play a unique and singular role in bringing people together."

Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas originated in conversations between Mustapha Tlili and Karen Brooks Hopkins at an international conference in Kuala Lumpur organized by the NYU Center for Dialogues. Asia Society was brought in as a partner for its long history of using arts and culture to promote understanding and deeper engagement between Asia—home to two thirds of the world's Muslim population—and the United States.

For press inquiries, please contact:

Asia Society: Elaine Merguerian, at 212-327-9313 or
BAM: Fatima Kafele, at 718-636-4129, x4 or
NYU Center for Dialogues: Andrea Stanton, at 212-998-7137 or

For updates and additional background, please visit

About the Organizers

Asia Society is the leading global and pan-Asian organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of the United States and Asia. The Society seeks to increase knowledge and enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of policy, business, education, arts, and culture. Through the presentation of groundbreaking museum exhibitions and cultural programs, Asia Society provides a forum for both traditional and contemporary Asian artistic expressions. Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, and Washington, DC.

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is recognized internationally for its innovative programming of dance, music, theater, music-theater, opera, and film. BAM presents leading national and international artists and companies in its annual Spring Season and highlights groundbreaking, contemporary work in the performing arts with its Next Wave Festival each fall. Founded in 1983, the Next Wave is one of the world's most important festivals of contemporary performing arts. BAM Rose Cinemas features new, independent film releases and BAMcinématek—a curated, daily repertory film program.

BAM also serves New York City's diverse population through a weekend concert series in BAMcafé, community events, literary series, artist talks, and a wide variety of educational programs. BAM, America's oldest performing arts center in continuous operation, has presented performances since 1861, and attracts an audience of 500,000 people each year. The institution is led by President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo—each of whom has been associated with BAM for more than twenty-five years. For more information visit

NYU Center for Dialogues is an institution of New York University dedicated to knocking down the walls of misunderstanding between the Islamic world, the United States, and other Western countries and replacing them with bridges of knowledge, mutual respect, and reason. Founded in the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001 tragedy by Director Mustapha Tlili, the NYU Center for Dialogues has established a reputation on both sides of the Muslim-Western divide. Its conferences are widely discussed in international policy circles and its publications are used as educational materials in university classrooms, while its initiatives have contributed to new connections made at the institutional and individual levels. Tlili is a NYU research scholar and Senior Fellow at the university's Remarque Institute. He is a former senior UN official, having served as director for communications policy at the UN Department of Public Information, director of the UN information center for France, and chief of the Namibia, Anti-Apartheid, Palestine, and decolonization programs in the same department. For more information visit


Asia Society, BAM, and NYU Center for Dialogues are the partners for Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas.

Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas supporting partners are: Austrian Cultural Forum, Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Museum for African Art, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA), New York Public Library, European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC).

WNET and The New York Times are the media partners for Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas.

Major support for Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas is provided by: Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation's New York City Cultural Innovation Fund, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Additional support is provided by: Carnegie Corporation of New York, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, The Pluralism Fund, The Reed Foundation, Lisina M. Hoch, Kite Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Amita and Pernundu Chatterjee, New York Community Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, PARSA Community Foundation, Zain, and Hazen Polsky Foundation.

Youssou N'Dour and Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas BAMcinématek series is part of Diverse Voices at BAM, presented by TimeWarner Inc.

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