0:10 SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very, very much. I am absolutely delighted to see the Ben Franklin
0:17 Room filled for this event, which is so important to us here at the State Department.
0:25 And I want to thank Beth for her tireless efforts and her unwavering commitment to expanding
0:38 the role of art in American diplomacy. I am delighted that she’s had such an extraordinary
0:48 time working to tell the story of what Art in Embassies means here at home and around
0:56 the world. And I’m very grateful that she has served in this position on behalf of my
1:05 tenure here at the State Department and our country. And of course, I want to thank Virginia
1:12 Shore, who, as Beth said, has over the past 20 years made Art in Embassies an internationally
1:20 recognized leader in cultural diplomacy. These two extraordinary leaders have really left
1:28 their mark.
1:30 We have so many distinguished guests that I will give you a general thank you. Beth
1:36 was able to recognize some of you who are here with us. I also notice a number of ambassadors
1:43 from other countries who have joined us today. We are so fortunate to be here to honor five
1:53 extraordinary artists who have given of themselves and their gifts to this program.
2:01 For over half a century, Art in Embassies has been working to place American art in
2:08 our embassies and consulates around the world. And today, there are more than 10,000 works
2:16 hanging or standing or being exhibited in some way, depending upon the medium, in more
2:26 than 200 overseas missions. (Applause.) Yes, let’s give that a round of applause. That
2:38 obviously could not happen without an enormous amount of support. And in fact, over the last
2:44 50 years, more than 20,000 individual and institutional partners have contributed to
2:53 this effort.
2:54 One of the great characteristics of our country are our public-private partnerships. They
3:03 are really at the core of how we do everything. De Tocqueville noticed that, but we’ve continued
3:10 to perfect and increase our extraordinary partnerships between government and business,
3:18 between civil society and academia. Our partnerships are really at the core of who we are and what
3:26 we do. And this program could not exist without those partners. So on behalf of the Obama
3:35 Administration, and especially everyone who works in our Diplomatic Corps around the world,
3:44 we have been blessed by your generosity.
3:48 Let me just take a minute to explain why this is such an important cause for me personally
3:54 and for our country. Starting when I was First Lady, working with Joe Carroll and others,
4:02 I saw the importance of conveying who we were as Americans in as many different venues and
4:12 using as many different approaches as we could muster. And I have seen the results from my
4:21 extensive travels now for more than 20 years.
4:26 And during the past four years, being privileged to serve in this position, I’ve spoken frequently
4:32 about what different kinds of diplomacy we can use to advance our nation’s values and
4:40 interests. Sometimes that obviously means old-fashioned diplomacy, fly to a capital,
4:46 meet with presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, other officials. Sometimes it’s
4:52 using new technology to connect people, to give them a voice. Sometimes it’s doing a
4:58 town hall with hundreds of young people to hear what’s on their minds. And we do all
5:05 of that and more.
5:07 But art is also a tool of diplomacy. It is one that reaches beyond governments, past
5:14 all of the official conference rooms and the presidential palaces, to connect with people
5:20 all over the world. And that’s the art we are celebrating this afternoon, along with
5:26 the luminous talents of our honorees and their contributions to the artistic landscape of
5:33 our nation and to our diplomacy.
5:37 Each of them has delighted imaginations for decades. And they truly are living testaments
5:45 to the timeless and unending human urge to create and connect. So they provide us with
5:53 another language of diplomacy, one that evokes our universal aspirations as human beings,
6:02 our common challenges, and our responsibilities for thinking through and addressing the problems
6:08 that we face together.
6:11 From Beijing to Monrovia, even here in Washington, these five artists have contributed works
6:17 of art that are the building blocks of this shared language. And that is why we are honoring
6:23 them with this first-ever Department of State Medal of the Arts Award, for their contributions
6:31 to the advancement of understanding and diplomacy.
6:37 Just think of what each of these artists means for people yearning to express themselves,
6:43 that young artist living under a repressive regime, that budding painter who’s not quite
6:50 sure where he or she fits in. Now, not all of these people will ever meet any of these
6:58 artists, but they will learn about them and themselves, maybe even know something of their
7:07 spirit and tap into a deeper level of inspiration, because they will encounter their works.
7:14 I feel it every time I walk into an American embassy or consulate in any part of the world.
7:21 And I hear so many people who visit our missions comment on the art. And, of course, the Americans
7:29 who live and work there are the most grateful of all.
7:33 So none of this would be possible without all of you, and I want to thank you. You help
7:39 us connect and you help us be better understood and you help us explain who we are as Americans
7:48 and what we stand for.
7:50 So we are delighted to be hosting this special celebration. And now I want Beth to come back
7:58 to the podium and tell you more about each of these accomplished artists as we present
8:06 the awards. Thank you. (Applause.)