Cultural Exchanges

Meridian handles program development and logistical support for an average of 2,000 international visitors each year, as well as sending U.S. experts abroad to work directly with their counterparts. From artists and athletes to musicians and museum professionals, these creative exchanges are infinitely customizable and highly impactful for all participants involved.

Recent Projects

Spotlight: Next Level Hip Hop

Next Level is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Meridian International Center. Its mission is to use hip-hop music and dance to foster cross-cultural exchange in diverse communities.

Through Next level programming, teams of four American hip-hop artist-educators – in collaboration with local organizations and musicians – facilitate workshops, demonstrations and master classes, along with formal and informal live performances. The goal is to promote the mutual sharing of knowledge, values, perspectives and respect between local populations and American artists.

Next Level offers a unique opportunity for overseas residents to develop their creative portfolio. They are guided by American artists in four hip-hop forms — beat making, dancing, DJing, and rapping — with secondary instruction in beat boxing and graffiti art. Participants are offered feedback and the opportunity to collaborate in live concerts and at public events, showcasing the cultural exchange that has taken place in the workshops. All activities are planned and executed with the purpose of promoting mutual understanding among people of different cultures, regions, generations, and personal identities. The program aims to deepen the international network of hip-hop artists and infuse artistic expression with the ideals of entrepreneurship and conflict resolution.

Since 2013, 85 artists have participated in the program. Next level has organized successful exchange programs in El Salvador, Colombia, Brazil, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Algeria, Tunisia and more. In 2017-18, the program will continue with visits to Azerbaijan, Burma, Egypt, Morocco and Vietnam.

Spotlight: Mural Arts

Beginning with the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Community Engagement through the Arts program, Meridian sent mural artists from the U.S. to nine countries abroad in less than three years. The artists collaborated with communities to address local issues through workshops and substantive dialogue that led to a total of 30 public artworks.

Through the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Community Engagement through the Arts programming, Meridian sent U.S. mural artists to nine countries abroad in less than three years. The projects have proved invaluable in collaborating with communities to address local issues and empowering young people.

Meridian’s programming in Nicaragua, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Honduras, India, Colombia, Brazil and Turkey enable U.S. artists to collaborate with global citizens. The programs begin with substantive dialogue sessions and workshops that provide communities with the tools they need to complete a mural project. They also initiate an important cultural exchange between the U.S and developing nations to improve understanding between participants.

The program design uses the mural arts as a means for engaging youth, artists, and underserved community members, while addressing local issues such as women’s empowerment, gender-based violence, social inclusion, regional stability and the environment. Collaboration with a specific core group of participants allows for a targeted and in-depth understanding of the mural's theme, which is in turn visible to the wider public. The traveling U.S. artist also leads and participates in public speaking events and other outreach activities that empower and equip the local community with the skills and drive to make a difference.

Explore the links below to learn more, or find the artists' perspective on our blog.

Mural Arts Exchanges in the News

Paint the World

While Meridian does not necessarily have any mural opportunities at this time, if you are interested in joining our pool of applicants, please submit the following to murals@meridian.org:

• Cover letter – expressing interest and detailing relevant arts education and international experience, specifically in working with communities to create public art based around themes of local and international concern
• Resume – including spoken languages (if any)
• Work samples from previous community engagement projects