The Arts do Build Bridges

May 04, 2017

The Arts do Build Bridges

Kathryn Maguet

Executive Director

The Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University in rural Lewisburg, PA has participated in every round of the Center Stage program since its inception (Paperpmoon Puppet Theatre in 2012, Tri Minh's Quartet in 2014, and Rajab Sulieman & Kithara in 2016). The opportunity for true and meaningful cultural exchange has been the cornerstone of our presenting program for the past few seasons and our experiences with visiting Center Stage artists have been some of the most rewarding programs for our community. It was a tremendous honor to travel with my colleagues as part of a Cente rStage Advance Trip delegation to Cairo, Egypt to experience the great wealth of artistic talent from Egypt and to also witness first-hand the terrific work that is being done in terms of cultural diplomacy by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Our tremendous State Department liaison, Luke, had a jam-packed itinerary for us that included meetings with variety of performing artists, as well as presenting colleagues. His thoughtfully constructed schedule included jazz club performances, music studio visits, outdoor courtyard performances, concert venues, artist lofts… And as added bonus, we were able to connect with Geoff Finger Thomas and his lovely family who are stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Geoff is the son of our wonderful longtime colleague, Ellis Finger. Yes, it is truly a collapsing universe…


L-R) Kathryn Maguet (Executive Diretor, Weis Center, Bucknell University), with fellow Center Stage Advance trip travelers Lisa Booth (President Lisa Booth Management) and Deb Sommers (Executive Director, Modlin Center, Univiversity of Richmond)

We had many opportunities to meet with Egyptian artists and learn first-hand about their work and learn about their opportunities as well as the many challenges they experience in carving out performing arts careers in Egypt. I was particularly taken with the cooperation and commitment to sharing within the musical community in Cairo. Although Egypt has gone through many changes in the past few years, the artistic community remains dedicated and steadfast in their pursuit of artistic excellence. The quality of performances and the extraordinary musicianship was overwhelming and I left with an immense appreciation for Egyptian music and culture.

I returned to Lewisburg, PA exhausted but exhilarated about the possibility of sharing the work of these wonderful artists from Egypt. The arts do build bridges and I’m more dedicated than ever to continuing this important work.