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The Long Nights of Interculturality project supports the following SDGs:

Some of the beautiful performers at the ICDO’s “The Long Nights of Interculturality” Opening Ceremony.

The Long Nights of Interculturality 2019

ICDO’s “The Long Nights of Interculturality”- an intercultural festival like no other in Vienna

International Cultural Diversity Organization (ICDO) held its annual “The Long Nights of Interculturality”, an event that celebrated the cultures of over 30 countries from around the world. With more than 300 participants, prominent artists, and Ambassadors from the representative countries and more than 1200 visitors, the event caught the eye of the Viennese. It turned the city into a hub for local and international artists, musicians, diplomats, and representatives of international organizations to come together and experience a virtual trip around the world firsthand. With the support of numerous sponsors and partners, including Bank Austria, Stadt Wien, and KOSMO, the six-day event hosted by ICDO celebrated diversity at some of the most spectacular venues in Vienna, such as the Vienna City Hall (Rathaus), Palais Wertheim and Wiener Börsensäle.

ICDO was privileged to work with eminent professionals and experts who supported this event: Dr. Ursula Struppe, Head of MA 17; Prof. Mag. Dr. Hermann Mückler; H. E. Nargiz Gurbanova, the first female Ambassador of Azerbaijan; and Mrs. Joanna Mann, who co-curated the “Art Speaks Diversity” art exhibition together with ICDO President Josipa Palac. Mr. Norlito Meimban, a former supervisor on large-scale animation productions such as Lilo and Stitch (2002) and Tarzan (1999) for Disney, traveled from the Philippines to support the Long Nights of Interculturality.

This ambitious event kicked off on September 1st with the opening speech by Dr. Anthony Löwstedt, ICDO’s Advisor, and a series of cultural performances from 20 different countries at the Vienna City Hall. Some participants celebrated with song and dance while wearing authentic, hand-crafted traditional costumes, while others showed off their prowess at playing time-honored musical instruments such as the guitar-like komuz, an ancient national symbol associated with the Kyrgyz people. “The level of expertise shown in some of these acts is truly astonishing,” said one of the guests, “it was a unique experience to behold.”

Performers from Russia singing traditional tunes at the ICDO’s “The Long Nights of Interculturality.”

On the following day, guests enjoyed art, dance, and a food tasting session at an evening dedicated to the Azerbaijani culture held at the Azerbaijani Cultural Center in Vienna. The event was inaugurated by Ms. Leyla Gasimova, the head of the Center, and Ms. Palac, who both emphasized the value of contributing to projects like the Long Nights. The Azerbaijan State Dance Ensemble flew in from Baku to perform national Azerbaijani dances, while the renowned Elvin Nabizade set up a contemporary art installation named “Lost Land”. One of the guests was “shocked and moved by the dark and existentially provoking imagery” of the art installations. A documentary about the lifestyles of different ethnic groups in Azerbaijan was screened and it showcased the high diversity within the country.

The opening of the “Art Speaks Diversity” exhibition drew a big crowd of art lovers. Eminent guests spoke about the importance of art in promoting diversity.

The third day of the Long Nights featured the “Art Speaks Diversity” exhibition at Yunus Emre Institute, which brought together 15 artists from around the world. Some of the artists had been nominated by the Embassies of Colombia, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic for their globally-acclaimed work. This resulted in a mix of art like miniatures from Uzbekistan, exquisite augmented reality paintings by Mr. Norlito Meimban, a grand photography expose inspired by Colombian indigenous people by Mr. Jorge Gamboa titled “La Linea Negra”, and colorful life-sized portraits by Mr. Jerson Jimenez, nominated by the Dominican Republic Embassy in Vienna. The exhibition also featured symbolic Red Cross costumes made by young people from different parts of the world. Guests also enjoyed freshly-brewed traditional Turkish coffee, generously provided by the Institute.

The evening of interplay between art and diversity was concluded by a panel discussion. “Truly, art knows no boundaries,” said H. E. Natividad, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines. “A good work of art may be a cause of interesting dialogues between audiences.” ICDO was honored to have a host of eminent speakers at the podium: H.E. Umir Yardim, Ambassador of Turkey, H. E. Lourdes Victoria-Kruse, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, Mr. Raymond Nader, Chairman of Committee at VIC Art Club, Ms. Maria Helena Botero,representative from Colombian Embassy, Mr. Jerson Jiménez, an artist from the Dominican Republic, and Mr. Norlito Meimban, an artist from the Philippines, Mrs. Joanna Mann, co-curator of the exhibition and Ms. Palac, President of ICDO and co-curator.

Did you know that the majority of the native population of Ivory Coast – the biggest exporter of cocoa in the world – has never tried chocolate? More such fascinating facts about cocoa, chocolate production and export were presented by the Embassy of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) at the other event held on the same day. Fittingly, this was held at the Chocolate Museum where visitors also tasted delicious premium chocolate after the presentation.

The events on the fourth day took place at the Bank Austria Salon in the Altes Rathaus where a panel discussion titled “Women in Leadership Positions: Inclusion and Diversity” was held. It was opened by musical duo Flöte & Gitarre, followed by award-winning classical pianist Mr. Abuzar Manafzade. Music was followed by a discussion on the role of women in all spheres of society and how we can achieve more diversity, which led to several unanimously agreed-upon conclusions. Dr. Ursula Struppe highlighted how organizations like ICDO help shape modern societies by showing “the value of accepting that everybody has different perceptions, and by finding ways to communicate and bring people together.” This was exemplified by Mr. Martin Dexborg’s experience in the OSCE, who recalled “We as a group of men spoke to another group of men about the situation of diverse populations, naturally we never got the full picture.” Efforts have been made to address the issue.

Panelists also agreed that the contribution of all genders is essential to the economy. “If equal opportunities were available,” said H.E. Nargiz Gurbanova, “the global GDP would increase by 26% by 2025.” Canadian Counsellor Kelly Ann Anderson pointed out that, “we cannot go forward if we leave fifty percent of our population behind.”

Panel discussion on “Women in Leadership Positions: Inclusion and Diversity” at the Altes Rathaus.

A painting donated by an anonymous collector was auctioned off at the Gala Dinner.

The penultimate evening was all about ICDO’s partnerships, networking opportunities, the future, celebration and music. A VIP Fundraising Gala Dinner was held at the gorgeous Palais Wertheim. The highlight of the night was the ‘ICDO Annual Excellence Award’, which was given to Ms. Jaime Castle, President of Obagi Medical, a women-led global skincare brand. It honored her work in barrier-breaking contributions to equality and in the #SKINCLUSION initiative, launched this May in New York, together with Priyanka Chopra and Ms. Palac. Josipa Palac and Mr. Toni Pehar, CFO of ICDO, presented future projects and ICDO’s extensive plans for #SafeguardingDiversity in many countries. A painting donated by an anonymous collector and an exclusive photoshoot voucher with the talented photographer, Dina Lee, were raffled off.

The grand finale of the Long Nights of Interculturality took place at the Wiener Börsensäle, which was almost too small to hold all the guests. “ICDO’s Costumes of the World” was an inspiring show of more than 120 national and traditional costumes, some handcrafted, from 60 different cultures. A lively musical performance by violinist Moša Šišic and his band filled the air while guests visited the several display stands from partnering embassies. Some found it difficult to resist dancing along, even joyfully joining the band on stage.

In all, the week-long affair was a roaring success, with a profuse display of the wealth of cultures we have in the world. “The 2019 ICDO Long Nights of Interculturality has been a wonderful journey and a grand success,” said Ms. Palac, whose brainchild the entire event is. “ICDO would like to express its gratitude to everyone who made this event possible – partners, participants, speakers, guests, and volunteers. ICDO aims to create many more exciting experiences in all of our future projects in 2020,” she added.