Good evening. It is a pleasure to be here with you at the Dreams Alive ‘Destined Arts and Entertainment’ Expo.
I first met Reyna last April when she was working with the Dreams Alive Club to inspire youth with life skills through dance. I quickly came to appreciate not only her talent as a choreographer, but this young woman’s passion, drive, and commitment to serving others. She is one of the only people I know who literally speaks with exclamation marks! Her eyes light up when she speaks of her positive work with Batswana’s youth, and of her plans to help grow the arts in Botswana. We are thrilled to partner with her and help her realize her dream.
The United States is committed to help elevate the arts in Botswana. We know arts and culture bring people together and promote mutual understanding between our countries. In addition, the arts transform communities and promote economic diversification and job creation efforts.
Since I arrived in early 2015, my Embassy has brought American slam poets, writers, visual artists, and musicians to share their crafts, passions, and professional expertise with youth and artists throughout Botswana. We have directly supported the Maitisong Festival, Ditshwanelo’s International Film Festival, Fête de la Musique with the Alliance Francaise, and the Maun International Arts Festival with Poetavango. Our Arts Envoy programs share the best of the U.S. arts community with the world to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration and to demonstrate shared values and aspirations. American arts professionals travel overseas to conduct workshops, give performances, and mentor young people. Programs seek to connect with international publics who might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with American arts professionals.
In addition I have hosted gatherings with a diverse group of Batswana hip-hop stars, poets, graffiti artists, and painters. Their artwork adorns the walls of my official residence and is a daily reminder of the artists’ incredible talent and energy.
Today my Embassy proudly supports Dreams Alive by bringing three American artists to lead hands-on workshops with youth and collaborate with professional artists. These exchanges are about building relationships, sharing knowledge and skills between our countries, and stoking passions in these young people about their futures, whether they choose to be dancers, poets, doctors, engineers, teachers or even a future President of Botswana!
Reyna Joy Banks, Brely Evans and Amber Baker are not just renowned entertainers; they are also inspiring women. They are women who strive to be the best in their fields and, more importantly, share their gifts with others.
Reyna, Brely, Amber – I warmly welcome you to Botswana. I know you will enjoy the country and the people as much as I do. Thank you for your dedication to youth and the arts.
I also want to thank the Dreams Alive Club for bringing a new dimension to arts in Botswana and for their contributions to the arts and entertainment industry in Botswana. We are proud to sponsor this event and facilitate the exchange of ideas and skills between our two countries.