PHILIP ARNOULT, founder & director



The Trust for Mutual Understanding has been a core supporter of CITD’s work in Russia and Central & Eastern Europe for multiple decades.  From early on, the Trust was both a funder and a partner.  The anonymous donor set up the Trust in 1985 with a focus on supporting cultural and environmental projects in the Soviet Union and the US.  After the political changes in 1990, the work of the Trust opened up to the former Soviet-block countries, and kept that dual focus of cultural and environmental support.  Almost all our work in the region could not have been realized with the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

U.S.-Russia cluster collaboration at the

President Obama’s first international travel was to meet Russia’s then-president Dmitry Medvedev.  A result of the trip was the founding of the US~Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, which included funding for cultural exchange programs. The long-time state department official Mike Hurley, then PAO at the embassy in Moscow, approached CITD’s partner John Freedman about supporting a next-step in CITD’s New Russian Drama project: New American Drama for Russia.  Partners for this project were Sundance Theater Lab, Eugene O’Neal Center, Humana Festival, and NYTW. One of three major projects alongside two iterations of Beyond the Capital, a program that connected American and Russian young cultural workers outside of New York and Moscow.  Two iterations: Russia to US (Baltimore, Austin, San Francisco, New Orleans), and US to Russia (Perm, Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg).

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These two were the major supporters of the US/Netherlands touring exchange program.  There was a major focus initially on theater for youth, and that broadened out to contemporary dance and theater in the Netherlands.  Initially there were partners in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Baltimore. Flemish Director Ivo Von Hove began his American career on this tour.  Multiple productions at NYTW. 


The Ford Foundation supported CITD’s work in East Africa for nine years, at the invitation of the Ford representative Katharine Pearson, the representative for East African office. CITD played key roles in the development of the Go Down Art Center in Nairobi, Russian/East African DanceTraffic, multiple East African Arts Summits, which lead to the Sundance East African Theatre Initiative. 


Rockefeller Foundation supported an early partnership in the creation of the Knoxville World Festival in 1990. The festival featured Robert Le Page’s The Dragon’s Trilogy, Circus OZ from Australia, Slava Polunin’s Licidei, among other works. 


CITD and Philip Arnoult have a long history of working with the International Theatre Institute. Martha Coigney, former US and Worldwide ITI president, was a personal mentor to Philip, while the ITI model of focusing on individuals rather than organizations was a critical component of the development of CITD. In the early years, there were country-specific collaborations between CITD and ITI in Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary. 

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