UN designation Arkansas City received during questioning | Arkansas News
FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) – The authenticity of a United Nations designation given to a city in Arkansas by an artist is now in question.
In a ceremony Tuesday, Nigerian artist Ibiyinka Alao announced that Fort Smith has become the 10th city in the world to be declared the “United Nations International City for Artistic and Cultural Innovation in Peacebuilding and Growth economic”. Fort Smith Mayor George McGill attended the event.
Alao, who is a guest artist in residence with a nonprofit group near Rogers, said the UN statement is being given to cities that support the arts. Alao is described as an ambassador for art at the UN.
But Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary general, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Friday that he was unaware of an “ambassador for the arts” within the organization. He also said the UN does not designate cities with the title Alao gave Fort Smith.
“It has all the hallmarks of a scam,” said Dujarric. He said the UN legal team has been briefed on the situation.
When asked about Dujarric’s statement on Friday, Alao said it was simply his assessment. He also said the word “designation,” which Dujarric used and was used in news articles to describe the statement, is misleading.
“It’s just a statement, which is my assessment of what a city is doing to promote the arts, to use the arts as a tool for economic development and peacebuilding,” he said.
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