As it happens, not too long ago (on March 1, 2006) I wrote:
"It bears mentioning that reasons for corporate patronage also include a desire or necessity to curry political favor in another country, as Lorenzo de' Medici is known to have done. By investing or contributing in another nation's arts and artists, one possibly wins favor with its members of government. For American and European interests (seeking foreign industrial contracts), it may seem like good strategy to spend dollars developing tomorrow's Chinese rock stars and East Indian 'gangsta' rappers. Likewise, we may one day witness Asian governments sponsoring indigenous African and mid eastern cultural activities in a bid to compete for those country's petrol resources".
So, it was with no shortage of interest that only two weeks later –in the November 12th issue of the New York Times– I discovered an article titled: The New Ambassadors.
In 'The New Ambassadors', writer Jeff Leeds reports that several foreign governments have begun sponsoring their own local popular artists in an attempt to spread goodwill as they tour abroad –in this case, 'abroad' meaning the United States.
"In a global economy that is blurring geographic borders, more and more nations view intellectual property — films, software and the like — as valuable commodities, easily transferred exports that can sell in previously inaccessible markets. That includes intellectual property like pop-punk or death metal... One way or another, between the musicians who are representing their countries abroad and the government officials who are seeking out and signing new talent, the international trend has forced all parties to invent new rules, and new roles, in situations that none of them could have anticipated."
Obviously, I agree –excepting the idea that such a 'situation' could not have been anticipated, for it most certainly was, six hundred years ago by Lorenzo de' Medici.