Culture » Overview

Exploring the transformative power of the arts – building bridges across cultures – supporting young cultural innovators

The Salzburg Global Seminar’s Culture and the Arts Program focuses on the transformative power of the arts, facilitates cultural exchange at multiple levels, and provides capacity-building opportunities through the annual Young Cultural Innovators Forum. Through multi-year projects and strategic convenings, the Culture and Arts Program seeks to secure a more prominent role for the arts on policy agendas and to support the continuously evolving needs of the creative sector – as a major driver of sustainable economic development and social improvement – through the multi-year Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

Sessions in 2018:

The Shock of the New: Arts, Technology, and Making Sense of the Future - February 20 to 25, 2018

Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators V - October 16 to 21, 2018

For past sessions, click here

Young Cultural Innovators to convene in Salzburg for fourth YCI Forum
Fifty of the world's most talented young innovators will take part in a six-day program at Salzburg Global (Picture: Michal Jarmoluk)
Young Cultural Innovators to convene in Salzburg for fourth YCI Forum
Salzburg Global Seminar 

More than 50 of the brightest creative minds catalyzing urban and social transformation in their communities will convene at Salzburg Global this weekend.

Young artists and cultural leaders representing more than 30 cities and regions will take part in the fourth session of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI).

The six-day program, which begins on Saturday, will take place at Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria.

Participants will develop their vision, entrepreneurial skills, and global networks which will allow them, their organizations, and their causes to thrive in new ways.

They will do this through a series of capacity building sessions focusing on storytelling, entrepreneurial thinking, human-centered design, and comparative styles of leadership.

YCI alumni will return as facilitators and resource specialists to assist this year’s participants, providing continuity and exchange of best practice.

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators is a 10-year project which aims to build collaborative networks for human capital and leadership development within the cultural sector.

Most participants come from YCI hubs that Salzburg Global has developed with partners in cities all around the world. These hubs form the core of the YCI multi-year program.

YCI hubs convene mini-sessions, workshops and public events and act as a local resource for emerging innovators.

In previous years, the disciplines represented by participants at these sessions have ranged from the visual and performing arts, literature, and cultural heritage, to foods, fashion, architecture, and design.

This year’s participants are arriving from Adelaide, Athens, Baltimore, Bangalore, Buenos Aires, Bristol, Cairo, Canmore, Chicago, Copenhagen, Detroit, Hanoi, Cape Town, London, Manila, Memphis, Montreal, Nairobi, New Orleans, New York, New Delhi, Ontario, Siem Riep, Salzburg, Seoul, Skidegate, Tirana, Tokyo, Toronto, Valetta, and Vientiane.

Salzburg Global Program Director Susanna Seidl-Fox said, “With the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators coming up soon, membership in our YCI network will grow to more than 200 creative change-makers across all continents. We are particularly excited to be welcoming new Forum partners from Canada, Malta, and Kenya this year.  

“The YCI Forum connects and supports cultural leaders working at the intersection of the arts, civic innovation, and social transformation. Our world needs the creativity, energy, vision, and passion that these young leaders bring to their communities now more than ever. And they, in turn, can benefit greatly from the ongoing support, encouragement, and network that the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators provides.”

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.

SSASA symposium reflects on implications and global reactions to Trump administration
SSASA symposium reflects on implications and global reactions to Trump administration
Salzburg Global Seminar 

Academics, legal profession representatives, and others working to protect and improve life in the U.S. have considered the implications and global reactions to the new U.S. administration.

The conversations took place on the final day of the 15th symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA), which took place at Schloss Leopoldskron. 

This year's program - Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration - included presentations and conversations on racial issues, immigration, populism, wealth, media, legal rights, civil rights, and criminal law. 

These issues, which will be covered further by Salzburg Global in the coming days, were considered alongside a broader topic of what "the American Dream" means in today's world, whether it still exists, and what this dream represents. 

The program was split into three themes: 70 years of trends and events; quality of life and opportunity; and fairness and justice.

In the last presentation of the session, three speakers provided comments on President Donald Trump’s administration before taking questions from the audience.

Participants heard from one speaker that U.S. prosperity was partially dependent on the Asia-Pacific region and political relations had improved under President Barack Obama, particularly in Myanmar and Vietnam.

The same speaker said President Trump’s win had come as a shock to many in Southeast Asia and countries in the region were now looking forward to see how the U.S. maintains its commitment to the region.

Anne Mørk, an assistant professor of American history at the University of Southern Denmark, said when one looks at the rhetorical presidency theory, it is no surprise President Trump won the election.

Trump has used social media to communicate with the public. When he makes statements on Twitter, he is speaking to his followers without a filter. Mørk described the role of the president in the 19th century as that of a manager - a role she believes President Trump appears to have little interest playing.

Mørk suggested President Trump’s “angry” and “macho” rhetoric almost became a form of entertainment similar to wrestling. She concluded by suggesting the rhetoric had become a policy in itself.

Alex Seago, dean of communications, arts and social sciences at Richmond, The American International University in London, said he pursued American studies because he was enamored by the country and culture. Seago, who’s also a professor of cultural studies, suggested President Trump was making a deliberate attempt to undermine America’s soft power. 

While “the American Dream” may still exist, Seago believes the U.S. has become less attractive to people. He later said the U.S. had a global image of a nation acting as a leading light for people to follow. This image showed the U.S as democratic and a country which gave people opportunities. However, the sense of “you can do anything if you work hard” is a lot less apparent now. 

In his concluding remarks, Ron Clifton, chair of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA), said two things had really struck him during this year’s program – one being how fairness and justice can depend on factors such as social status and race. The other thing which he felt was left to consider were the implications of the changes underway in the U.S., especially under the new administration.

He said, “I like the phrase that [a participant] just came up with which is, “At this moment it would seem to me that America is looking less good.” The question is what does that imply for the future and when and where will the turn occur? Of course, being an American, we are optimistic and hopeful, we have a burden to carry and that burden we carry is to make things better and to invite people to join in with us and progress.”

The Salzburg Global program Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration is part of Salzburg Global’s multi-year series Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA). More information on the session can be found here. You can follow all of the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SSASA.

Salzburg Global Fellows speak at Pune International Literary Festival
Salzburg Global Fellows speak at Pune International Literary Festival
Salzburg Global Seminar 

Salzburg Global Seminar has continued its growing relationship with the Pune International Literary Festival by acting as a partner for a second consecutive year.

This year’s festival, which took place between September 8 and September 10, saw several Salzburg Global Fellows feature in a series of events as visitors explored all forms and genres of the written word.

On the first day of the festival, several Salzburg Global Fellows took part in an event where they shared details of their experiences at Schloss Leopoldskron.

This event included: Roman Gerodimos, a political scientist, writer and Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change faculty member; Daniel Hahn, a writer and translator who attended Session 461; and Thomas Biebl, director of marketing and communications at Salzburg Global. Their discussion was moderated by documentary filmmaker and author Neil Hollander, who previously attended Session 403

Speaking afterward, Gerodimos said; “We agreed that diversity is fundamental to a society – diversity in any form enriches our life. We learn through difference; through meaningful encounters with people, opinions and cultural texts that are different to what we’re used to.

“However, there is a pressing need to find common ground. This is key to peaceful coexistence within urban communities as well as in the world at large.”

Gerodimos said there were highly complex and interdependent global challenges which national governments and individual communities could not address by themselves. This is why it is important to create opportunities for people to meet, acknowledge the other side’s point of view, and identify shared values and experiences.

He said, “All panelists agreed that the things that unite us are more – and more significant – than the things that divide us. Physical co-presence, inspiration, a safe space for dialogue, the opportunity to speak openly and without fear, the sense that one ought to work toward goals and achievements that transcend the individual or their own community – these are the essential ingredients of finding common ground, and they are precisely what Salzburg Global Seminar does and is about.” 

On the final day of the festival, Gerodimos took to the stage again with Biebl as part of a discussion titled “The Human Library: Urbanization, Multiculturalism and the Art of Listening.” This talk covered the challenges of urbanization, segregation, technological echo chambers, and fear of the other. It also gave Gerodimos the chance to screen his film At the Edge of the Present

Gerodimos said, “Screening At the Edge of the Present was a unique experience as the session hall was packed with a very diverse audience of authors, artists, journalists, students, activists and local residents of all ages. It is the most rewarding and fulfilling experience for a filmmaker to share a screening with an engaged audience - it is a sacred moment of connection and meaning-making. 

“The discussion afterwards was highly sophisticated and it touched upon important issues regarding urbanization, multiculturalism, the need and methods of encouraging people to listen and engage, and the role of digital/social media and the culture of constant connectivity and distraction. The feedback for the film was amazing and it was great to hear people who watched the film say that they intend to screen it in their communities.”

Biebl, who represented Salzburg Global at the festival, said, “It was really impressive to see the scale at which the Pune International Literary Festival has grown in India. We are delighted Salzburg Global could once again play the role of an international partner at an important event.

“We are grateful to our Fellows who were able to appear at this year’s festival and take part in the event. It was an engaging discussion featuring Fellows from creative backgrounds who all had unique perspectives to offer."

PILF was founded by Salzburg Global Fellow and award-winning author Manjiri Prabhu. She credits her experience as a Fellow at Session 403 – From Page to Screen - in inspiring her to launch the festival.

Prabhu said, “We are extremely privileged to have Salzburg Global Seminar partner with the Pune International Literary Festival. Not only are we united in our goal to transform the world step by step, but I believe that our common synergies will open up new avenues and collaborations.”

To find out more about the Pune International Literary Festival, please click here

Minneapolis communities given a "Warm Welcome" by YCI Hub project
Minneapolis communities given a "Warm Welcome" by YCI Hub project
Salzburg Global Seminar 

A YCI Hub project designed to give residents in Minneapolis an authentic cross cultural experience has been hailed a success.

Warm Welcome, a one-night pop-up cafe in a Minneapolis park ice skating warming house, recently brought together new and established Minnesota cultures in a friendly exchange.

The project was co-directed by YCI alumna Amanda Lovelee, a member of the Minnesota YCI Hub. She worked alongside Emily Stover as part of their collaborative group Plus/And. 

The group worked with the Somali Museum of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board to host the event.

Visitors were given a cup of Somali milky tea after they contributed to a tapestry combining maps of Somalia and Minnesota - an interwoven representation of the shared community.

Outside the warming house, four Somali grandmothers sang, laughed, and shared stories around a campfire much like the nomadic traditions of their childhood. 

The grant for the project was administered by Salzburg Global Seminar as part of funding received from The McKnight Foundation. Lovelee was one of several beneficiaries to receive a regional grant to undertake follow-on activities after attending Session 569 - Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators III.

Discussing the project, Lovelee said, "As artists, we hoped that Warm Welcome would be an experience where new and old Minnesota communities could meet, listen, learn, and recognize how much we all have to offer if we can all be open to receiving.

"Our intention was to deepen a sense of empathy for our immigrant neighbors through their food and their stories, while assuring those who might feel afraid that their presence is not merely tolerated, but desired. This traditional Minnesotan space, the ice skating warming house, was temporarily transformed into a place for mutual welcoming to the community we share."

Lovelee admitted organizers were unsure how many people would turn up for the event, which took place in February, but developments in the news cycle helped generate further interest.

She said, "Our invitation was released on social media the day of the travel ban, affecting Somali nationals and even Americans of Somali descent, was first instated, and the overwhelming response indicated many people felt the need to show up.

"We were offering an opportunity to neither hide nor protest, but to gather and celebrate the diverse culture that we’ve built together. Overall our team hosted around 150 people of different ages and ethnicities, including many passers-by who happened upon Warm Welcome as they enjoyed the unseasonably warm night.

"We had tea and mulawah left at the end of the night, and felt like our first Warm Welcome event accomplished what we’d set out to do, and was a small moment of hopeful exchange for many who attended."

The tapestry weaved throughout the evening by visitors represented a symbolic map of Minnesota and Somalia. At the end of the event, guests could see the blended borders of two distant and distinct places, so far apart in distance and in culture, becoming one. The final map was framed and given for display at the Somali Museum of Minnesota.

Moving forward, Plus/And is approaching Minneapolis Parks to consider alternative ways of making use of their warming houses. They also hope to design a series of mobile structures which can serve different functions all year round.

Lovelee said, "We hope that Warm Welcome can be an example of how these structures could be used to further the board’s mission. We are pursuing an opportunity to create a similar space for two weeks in January 2018, and intend to work with other immigrant community partners to share their cultural hot drinks, stories, and understanding.

"Overall we believe that Warm Welcome is an inviting space, bringing people together to share what makes us each unique in our state’s coldest season, and to bring some warmth to a cold time in our country’s history."

Report now online – Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators: Regional Fellow Event
Report now online – Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators: Regional Fellow Event
Aceel Kibbi 
The report of the Salzburg Global session Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators: Regional Fellow Event is now available online to read, download and share. In its first major regional meeting, the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI Forum) that was held on April 27 to 29 in Detroit, Michigan brought together 16 fellows from the YCI city hubs in Memphis, Detroit and New Orleans. For two days, fellows explored urban transformation, creative placemaking and storytelling in intensive discussions, workshops and peer-to-peer learning. The YCI forum is a ten-year project that aims to foster creative innovation and entrepreneurship with the intention of advancing economic and urban development worldwide, while supporting innovators in gaining leverage on important social issues within their local communities. Generously supported by the Kresge Foundation, the session recognized the importance of language and emphasis in communicating multi-faceted projects, defining challenges addressed by one’s work, and articulating what one hopes to gain for an exchange with a funder or policymaker.
Download as a PDF (lo-res)
The Salzburg Global session Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators: Regional Fellows Event is part of Salzburg Global’s long-running Culture and the Arts series. More information on the session can be found here: 

Report now online - The Art of Resilience: Creativity, Courage and Renewal
Report now online - The Art of Resilience: Creativity, Courage and Renewal
Aceel Kibbi 
The report of the Salzburg Global session The Art of Resilience: Creativity, Courage and Renewal is now available online to read, download and share. The 2017 session, which is part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s long-running series on Culture, Arts and Society, was held from February 7 to 12. Hailing from 21 countries, the 49 Fellows included creative entrepreneurs, artists, politicians, law enforcement officials, environmentalists, social scientists, media analysts, and cultural and community leaders. The session tackled the polarizing challenges that art and the cultural sector face. Participants were invited to explore creative ways in which they can inspire and strengthen their communities and societies at large to courageously respond to sources of violence and disruption. Fellows concluded the session by highlighting the importance of the involvement of arts organizations and artists in multi-sectoral discussions and policy developments in order to find solutions for global challenges that plague our world today. The session report, written by rapporteur Margaux Portron, summarizes the topics discussed and the several themes that were examined, including refugees, migration and integration; indigenous communities; climate resilience; urban upheaval; social injustice; post-conflict settings, reconciliation and renewal; and cultural heritage and resilience.
Download as a PDF (lo-res)
The Salzburg Global session The Art of Resilience: Creativity, Courage and Renewal is part of Salzburg Global’s long-running Culture and the Arts series. More information on the session can be found here:

Salzburg Global Fellow Ben Folds improvises live piece of music with National Symphony Orchestra
Salzburg Global Fellow Ben Folds improvises live piece of music with National Symphony Orchestra
Oscar Tollast 
Salzburg Global Fellow Ben Folds has created a buzz on social media after improvising a live piece of music while on stage with the National Symphony Orchestra. Folds, an acclaimed singer-songwriter and record producer, performed the piece during #SoundHealth in Concert: Music and the Mind, held at The Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.  At the time of writing, a clip of the performance has received more than eight million views on Facebook and has been shared more than 96,000 times.  Before attempting the challenge, Folds was introduced on stage by Dr. Charles Limb, another Salzburg Global Fellow. In the segment, Dr. Limb, a renowned surgeon, neuroscientist, and musician, asks the audience for a key, tempo, and "interesting sentence" for Folds to work with. Once these ingredients are noted down, Folds takes just 10 minutes to improvise a new piece of music with the National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edwin Outwater. Both Folds and Dr. Limb attended Salzburg Global in 2015 for Session 547 - The Neuroscience of Art: What are the Sources of Creativity and Innovation? Folds was a participant while Dr. Limb co-chaired the session. The session brought together an inspiring and unusual mix of 50 artists, scientists, physicians, psychologists, sociologists - and more - to explore the field of neurology of art and to create a collaborative international platform to identify and address emerging issues at the creative intersection of neuroscience and art. Watch Folds' performance below.  
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How should cultural institutions approach the creation and articulation of value?
Albino Jopela, archaelogist and lecturer at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique suggests that considering the values of all of the stakeholders in a community will help ensure relevance and sustainability.

Why is it important for arts leaders to engage in cross-cultural conversations?
Jimena Lara Estrada, program coordinator for the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, talks about connecting with other leaders and the hope that it instills.

How do you articulate value of arts in a society where it is largely seen as a commodity?
Eyad Houssami, founding director of Masrah Ensemble in Lebanon, talks about the challenges of making a case for the arts in a society where the concept of public value is very limited.

What role should orchestras play in their communities?
Mark Gillespie, general and artistic manager of Orchestra of the Americas and Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders Fellow, suggests that orchestras should connect with youth at a very early age so that musicians grow out of the community.