Year-Long Project asks “What is American Culture?”

January  4, 2016
Contact: William Harvey   

Year-Long Project asks “What is American Culture?”

Violinist to travel throughout 2016, one week per state

INDIANAPOLIS—Music, food, literature, legend and faith: all those things—and more—make up the culture of an area. Each state takes the spotlight by turns in 2016 as a new program of the nonprofit Cultures in Harmony unfolds, taking founder William Harvey on week-long stints to ask “What is American Culture?”

Harvey, a well-traveled concert violinist, describes the American Culture program, funded by donations, as “A collaborative, educational and participatory quest to highlight the many strands that combine to form the American cultural tapestry.” In each state, he will perform, interview people about what American culture means to them, and conduct workshops fostering reflection on the topic. An Indiana native, Harvey has performed, taught and conducted in Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America.

Throughout his year-long journey, Harvey will document the discussion on the project’s website and in social media. The outcome, he hopes, will be an ongoing dialogue about the diverse heritage and practices that spice up America’s cultural stew.

“I’m a musician,” says Harvey, “so my bias is to start with the arts to find out what makes people tick. But culture embraces everything from what we eat to how we speak, worship, play and view the world. 2016 is a yearlong dive into all of that, shared with each state’s citizens and with anyone who cares to participate online.

Grassroots participation: Antidote to election-year politics?

People are invited to share the American Culture project in any way they choose, including:

  • Setting up a discussion, performance or other event to probe the culture of their region and the U.S.
  • Taking part in a performance or interview.
  • Hosting William Harvey during his travels.
  • Supporting the project with a donation to offset expenses.
  • Join the discussion in social media with the hashtag #AmericanCultureIs.

“The Web connects us all now, just as the American spirit always has,” said Harvey. “I’ll be sharing each week through Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Periscope, Instagram and Vine. But that’s only my take on American culture. Everyone is invited to share their own insights. I hope to see a national dialogue that helps us all appreciate what makes each of us different and what unites us as a people. Especially in an election year with its frantic, fractious politics, this can provide a sense of shared purpose.”

Harvey’s itinerary for January takes him to Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, the first stops on what is likely to be a journey of 20,000 miles.