Ataya: Cultural diversity is key to society’s progress
September 30, 2021 / 1:05 PM
Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA)
Sharjah24: Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA), highlighted the importance of empathy and embracing cultural diversity for a greater progressive society.
This was during an interview on the ‘Three Bells’ podcast, launched last April by the Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN), an independent, international association dedicated to improving the quality of urban life through the contribution of arts, culture and creative industries.
Talking to Australian host Criena Gehrke, CEO of HOTA on September 30, Ataya explained how identity and the concept of culture is complex and continually evolving as globalisation is not a new phenomenon but rather how world civilisations have been interacting and intersecting with one another over centuries through the activity of trade and migration.
To help people better understand their own cultures and those of others, cultural institutions across the globe have a vital role to play in creating spaces and opportunities for learning and constructive discussion that is necessary for social cohesion, she said.
Stories told by museum collections and exhibitions have the ability to truly touch people’s lives, and help encourage critical thinking as well as empathy which can change how people think and view others from different cultures.
“Ideally we want to create a space for our audiences to learn and discover through our programs from exhibitions to panel discussions on topics relating to diversity, inclusion and tolerance. We hope our work does have an effect on our visitors, especially young people by making them more culturally-sensitive, able to explore cultural differences without fear and approach people that are different such a minority groups that are often sadly marginalised from a place of compassion and respect,” Ataya said.
Every three weeks, ‘Three Bells’ explores culture in its urban context through a series of interviews with international cultural, civic, and thought leaders including Adrian Ellis, Founder and Chair of (GCDN), Sunil Iyengar, Director of Research and Analysis at NEA in the US, and Claire Spencer, CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne.