Cultural diplomacy, in contrast to more traditional forms of political, economic, and military interactions, assumed great importance during the Cold War as the U.S. responded to what a State Department official called the “gigantic propaganda offensive” of the Soviet Union. In 1954, President Eisenhower established an Emergency Fund for International Affairs in part to support cultural presentations abroad. The International Cultural Exchange and Trade Fair Participation Act of 1956 established a permanent place for cultural diplomacy. On signing the act, Eisenhower stated he hoped that “little by little, mistrust based on falsehoods will give way to international understanding based on truth.” From 1954 through 1959, some 140 groups of American performing artists and athletes traveled to more than 90 countries. Jazz musicians and modern dance troupes in particular represented an American cultural life that was vibrant, fresh, and inspiring to artists and audiences throughout the world.
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