The State Department's Cultural Heritage Center (CHC) along with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) faces severe cuts
in the Trump Administration's Budget proposal. That proposal,
funding for the Department of State's Educational and Cultural Exchange (ECE)
Programs. ECE resources would focus on sustaining the flagship Fulbright Program,
which forges lasting connections between Americans and emerging leaders around
While the CHC's programs have been characterized as "soft power" diplomatic efforts, its MOUs have devolved into special interest programs that only benefit small
numbers of archaeologists and foreign cultural bureaucracies that offer them excavation permits. Meanwhile, associated embargoes on cultural goods have thoroughly alienated large numbers of legitimate dealers and collectors both here and abroad. So, any supposed "soft power" benefits may in reality be deficits as far as the most of the general public is actually concerned.
It may be too much to hope for, but going forward the Trump State Department CHC should consider retooling to promote people to people cultural exchange that sees collecting as an asset and not an enemy. Such an inclusive vision would increase CHC's popularity dramatically and help stave off any budget cuts going forward.
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