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Wed 21 Feb 10:30am - 12:00pm
Ballroom 2 | Sofitel Brisbane Central
1 hr 30 mins



Mid-Week Keynote Event.

Soft Diplomacy is fast becoming a phrase synonymous with the global performing arts community as we continue to delve steadfastly into the world of international touring and rich transcultural collaboration. No longer is this terminology wrapped up in the hands of ambassadors and politicians, as artists and cultural leaders begin to grasp that creativity and the arts has to power to mould political and diplomatic discourses across borders.

Following her research on Art Centre Melbourne’s recent AsiaTOPA program, this very special mid-week keynote welcomes Professor Cynthia P. Schneider to lead a critical and exciting dialogue, dissecting through relevant case studies the future of our softy spoken, but powerful industry.

What does public diplomacy in action look like? What is the role of The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT)? Who are our future soft power leaders and how do we foster their influence?

Keynote Speaker/
Professor Cynthia P. Schneider - Georgetown University, WA (USA)


  • Emily Johnson - Director / Choreographer, Catalyst Dance (USA)
  • Caitlin Byrne - Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University
  • Stephen Armstrong - Creative Director, Arts Centre Melbourne
  • Wendy Were - Executive Director, Strategic Development & Advocacy, Australia Council for the Arts

Image: Satan Jawa, Photo by Erik Wirasakti, courtesy Arts Centre Melbourne

Cynthia P. Schneider

Cynthia P. Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, teaches, publishes, and organizes initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on relations with the Muslim world.

Ambassador Schneider co-directs the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown, as well as the Los Angeles-based MOST Resource (Muslims on Screen and Television). Additionally, she co-directs the Timbuktu Renaissance, an innovative strategy and platform for countering extremism and promoting peace and development, which grew out of her work leading the Arts and Culture Dialogue Initiative as a Senior Non Resident Fellow within Brookings’ Center for Middle East Policy.

Professor Schneider teaches courses in Diplomacy and Culture in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where, from 1984-2005, she was a member of the art history faculty, and published on Rembrandt and seventeenth century Dutch art. She also organized exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Dr. Schneider publishes and speaks frequently on topic related to arts, culture, and media and international affairs, particularly the Muslim world. Her writings range from blogs for the Huffington PostCNN.com, and Foreign Policy to policy papers for Brookings.

From 1998-2001, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, during which time she led initiatives in cultural diplomacy, biotechnology, cyber security, and education.

Dr. Schneider has a PhD and BA from Harvard University and serves on various Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards.

Damien Miller

Mr Miller is currently the Assistant Secretary of the Public Diplomacy Branch at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.  In 2017 he joined the inaugural cohort of Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity.  From May 2013 to May 2017 he was Australia’s Ambassador to Denmark, with non-resident accreditation to Norway and Iceland.  He was the first Indigenous Australian to be appointed head of an overseas mission.

Mr Miller previously served overseas as Australia’s Deputy Ambassador to Germany (2010-2013) and at the Australian High Commission in Malaysia (2000-2003).  He joined the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1995.  Mr Miller holds a Graduate Diploma in Foreign Affairs and Trade from Monash University and a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales.  He was selected "Aboriginal Scholar of the Year" by the National NAIDOC Committee in 1993.  He is a descendant of the Gangalu people of central Queensland.

Caitlin Byrne 

Caitlin Byrne is the Director of the Griffith Asia Institute. Caitlin’s research is focused on Australian foreign policy and diplomacy within the Asia-Pacific. She has a special interest in the role and relevance of 'soft power' in the region. Prior to joining academia, Caitlin was engaged in senior management and strategic policy roles across federal and state government, including with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Queensland Government's Office for Women, and Queensland Department of Communities.

Caitlin currently sits on the international advisory board of The Hague Journal on Diplomacy, the editorial board of Brill Research Perspectives in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, and is an elected member of the executive council for the Australian Institute of International Affairs (Queensland). She is a Faculty Fellow of the University of Southern California’s Centre for Public Diplomacy.