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 2017:

The Art of Resilience: Creativity, Courage and Renewal 
February 7 to 12, 2017 

Salzburg Global Young Cultural Innovators Forum: Regional Fellows Event
April 27 to 29, 2017

Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV
October 14 to 19, 2017

For past sessions, click here

Salzburg Around the World - Cambodia
Susanna Seidl-Fox, Program Director of Culture and the Arts in a session at ANCER 2016
Salzburg Around the World - Cambodia
Patrick Wilson 
Susanna Seidl-Fox, Salzburg Global Program Director of Culture and the Arts traveled to Cambodia in January to attend the third conference of the Asia-Pacific Network for Cultural Education & Research (ANCER). ANCER was originally conceived as an organization dedicated to preserving Cambodia’s traditional art forms but has now evolved into creating a vibrant, dynamic and sustainable art sectors throughout the country. The three-day event featured keynotes and sessions related to networking and on the tools and platforms that can support the research and practice in arts and cultural management and cultural policy fields in the Asia-Pacific region. Workshops were also included to stimulate career choices and networking such as careers in arts management. The theme of this year’s conference was “Vitality & Viability: Arts Ecosystems in Asia”  The event was organized by one of the partners of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, Cambodia Living Arts. The organization aims to facilitate the transformation of Cambodia through the arts and work in collaboration with others to create an environment where Cambodian arts empower and transform individuals and communities. ANCER 2016 marked the formal launch of the Greater Mekong Subregion Hub for Cultural Changemakers, an initiative in partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar based in Phnom Penh that seeks to connect young cultural leaders from around the region. This partnership is part of Salzburg Global’s continued transboundary collaboration with organizations and events on a global scale. In 2014, Salzburg Global Seminar launched a 10-year program to make a global network of 500 Young Cultural Innovators. These would be people using arts, culture and creativity for social improvement and sustainable economic development. This network will be built up via 10 regional hubs and connected through an annual Forum in Salzburg, Austria. There are existing hubs in Athens, Baltimore, Seoul, South Africa and Tokyo. Cambodian Living Arts is leading the development of a hub from Phnom Penh. Seidl-Fox praised the event and discussed what she and Salzburg Global have taken back from the experience. “It was inspiring to participate in the ANCER conference on Arts Ecosystems in Asia and connect with a dynamic network of cultural researchers and practitioners focusing on the Asia Pacific Region.” She said. “We received some extremely helpful feedback and advice on the Greater Mekong Delta Young Cultural Innovators Hub that we are developing in partnership with Cambodia Living Arts.”

To find out when Salzburg Global's staff might be in your city and to host a Fellowship gathering, please contact Salzburg Global Fellowship Manager, Jan Heinecke.
Beyond Green - The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability
A street installation in Qingbu Sports Park. Photo by Yi-Lin Tsai
Beyond Green - The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability
Patrick Wilson 
Practitioners and thinkers committed to promoting social, economic, and environmental sustainability through the arts and cultural innovation gather this week for the session Beyond Green:The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability from February 19 to 24, 2016, at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria. This program aims to to build on ground-breaking cultural initiatives to advance international and cross-sectoral links between existing arts and sustainability activities around the world, encourage more impactful awareness-raising efforts, and recommend innovative strategic approaches to achieve greater and longer-term impact. The Salzburg session that is part of Salzburg Global’s long-running Culture and Arts Program is held in partnership with the Edward T Cone Foundation, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the Bush Foundation and Red Bull Amaphiko. It will bring together 58 participants of 28 different citizenships and spanning different sectors including artists, designers, architects and creative entrepreneurs to politicians, policymakers, environmentalists, urban planners, educators, scientists, game developers, community leaders, philanthropists, scholars, and business leaders.  This will be a highly interactive session with expert presentations, demonstrations and debates between participants. The topics brought up within these discussions will then feed into flexible small group work to deepen practical discussions and problem-solving that will enable the Fellows to implement their ideas into tools and new approaches for future work, and arrange cross sectoral collaborations. This session will attempt to facilitate dialogue and exchange new forms of networking and collaboration between the cultural sector and representatives of other sectors working in the areas of sustainability across all fields. The event will also be hosting a travelling exhibition called Facing the Climate, in which five Swedish and five Austrian cartoonists take a sharp and disturbing look at the climate issue. The Facing the Climate project is part of a bilateral cultural exchange series between Sweden and other countries around the world as a result of cooperation between the Swedish Institute, the Swedish Embassy in Vienna, the Caricature Museum in Krems and the University for Applied Arts in Vienna. Previous sessions in the Culture and Arts Program have explored neuroscience and the sources of creativity and innovation in 2015 and conflict transformation through arts and culture in 2014. This year participants will attempt to raise greater awareness of the unique and often underestimated role of the arts in promoting sustainable strategies.
The Salzburg Global session Beyond Green: The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability is part of Salzburg Global’s long-running Culture and the Arts series. The session is supported by the Edward T. Cone Foundation, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the Bush Foundation and Red Bull Amaphiko. More information on the session can be found here: You can follow all the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SGSculture.
Salzburg Around the World - From South Africa to Singapore
Salzburg Around the World - From South Africa to Singapore
Heather Jaber 
The Salzburg Global Seminar team is more active than ever, connecting with Fellows and foundations around the world. Recently, our ambassadors were in South Africa, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Italy talking about culture, education,  youth, and bridging societal divides. Hot on heels of her trip to Cape Town, South Africa at the invitation of Red Bull's Amaphiko project last month, Clare Shine, Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer, together with Andrew Ho, US Development Director is this week gearing up for the upcoming session Philanthropy in the Global Age, which will take place December 4-5 in Hong Kong. The session marks the inaugural convening of The Global Friends, a consortium of global philanthropists leading values-driven social innovation. Part of this broader Asian trip also has Shine and Ho in Japan, meeting with the Japan Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, and many of our Japan-based Fellows. Susanna Seidl-Fox, Program Director for Culture and the Arts, traveled to Florence, Italy to discuss the pressing need for Western societies and global Muslim communities to comprehend and communicate with each other. The Brademas Centre at NYU brought twenty artists, conveners, practitioners, and funders together from November 11-13 to identify the work that needs to be done to achieve this. The findings from the session Conflict Transformation through Culture were relevant here, and Seidl-Fox discussed Salzburg Global's culture and arts programs and the need to promote capacity-building in the MENA region.  “Most participants agreed that we need to harness the transformative power of the arts to bring about change and that we have to engage cross-sectorally in order to achieve progress,” she said. Seidl-Fox also travelled to Gwangju, Korea, where the discussion of culture continued at the Asia-Europe Foundation’s conference "Cities: Labs for Culture?" Seidl-Fox moderated a panel focusing on leadership in the cultural sector, particularly next generation leaders. The program director also met with creatives and cultural leaders in Seoul at the World Culture Open, a network which invites people to engage in intercultural exchange and collaboration. The Seoul visit also saw the gathering of Young Cultural Innovator (YCI) Fellows from the local hub. Six Fellows from the past two years joined Seidl-Fox and In Dong Cho, Vice-Mayor of Seoul and head of the Innovation Department and recent faculty member at YCI, for a traditional Korean dinner. During the YCI Forum this year, Stephen Salyer, Salzburg Global President and Chief Executive Officer, visited Singapore for another youth initiative. Salyer attended the first International Liberal Education Symposium on October 11 at the inauguration of the Yale-NUS College, a conference which encouraged dialogue about education in an increasingly interconnected world. 
To find out when Salzburg Global's staff might be in your city and to host a Fellowship gathering, please contact Salzburg Global Fellowship Manager, Jan Heinecke.
Young Cultural Innovators Leave With Big Plans For Future
Young Cultural Innovators Leave With Big Plans For Future
Louise Hallman and Heather Jaber 

The sixty artists, photographers, theatre producers, inventors, cultural entrepreneurs, doctoral students and city officials, traveled to Salzburg from cities including Athens, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Oxford, Phnom Penh, Rotterdam, Seoul and Tokyo, with a shared mission: expand cultural innovation and positive social change in their home cities and connect with cultural change-makers across the world.

Held at the historic palace of Schloss Leopoldskron, former home of theater impresario and Salzburg Festival founder Max Reinhardt, and led by an expert faculty, this was the second installment of the ten-year YCI Forum led by Salzburg Global Seminar.

The five-day session (October 17 to 22, 2015) combined theory and praxis through lectures, group discussions and skills workshops to help 50 of the world’s most dynamic young minds in the cultural sector develop the entrepreneurial, leadership, communication, problem-solving and technological skills, vision, and global networks needed to advance their organizations, their causes and their communities. A faculty of experts from Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Korea, Japan, the UK and the US led the program. Participants were also encouraged to showcase their own work and projects in a nightly open forum, and were given a tour of the city of Salzburg by local artists and cultural change-makers.

"Day one, session one, felt completely like I was in the right place, because that’s the thing about social impact or impact entrepreneurs…you’re meant have something larger than a bottom line governing your parameters of operation, and that was a big validation for me.”

-- Rowan Pybus, co-founder of Sunshine Cinema and
Greenpop and a founder and director of Makhulu Media

The Forum not only gathers participants annually in Salzburg, but also encourages Fellows to continue engagement throughout the year in their local city “hubs”. Since last year’s session, there have been hub-led events including a mini-YCI Forum in Athens on “Nurturing the New Creator,” a “Baltimore after Freddie Gray” salon, and a public artwork competition in Rotterdam. 

At this year’s Forum, plans for future hub-based projects included regular recurring cultural salons in Salzburg and Baltimore; participation in the Rotterdam “Viert De Stad” festival, marking 75 years since the rebuilding of the city post-WWII; a conference on conflict transformation through the arts in Cambodia; team- and skills-building classes in Athens, starting with a cooking class at the Museum of Greek Gastronomy; continued networking and planning for future events to tie in with the upcoming Summer Olympics and Rugby World Cup tournament in Japan; hosting Salzburg Global staff during upcoming trips to Cape Town and Seoul; and a “pay-it-forward” skills exchange program in Argentina.

“Our second annual Young Cultural Innovators Forum bought together another outstanding group of dynamic cultural change-makers from our growing YCI Hub network around the world,” said Susana Seidl-Fox, Salzburg Global Program Director for Culture and the Arts, “We look forward to connecting this year’s and last year’s Fellows both virtually and on the ground in their respective YCI city hubs, and we are more than ever committed to making the YCI Forum an ongoing vibrant focal point for international exchange, emerging leadership, urban transformation, and innovation in the cultural sector.”

“I want to take back what I learned from here — how to talk, how to communicate...and instead of looking at the small section that I’m in over in Baltimore — even the United States — but also looking at global issues and taking my work global…If I can do this in two years, what could I do for the rest of the world if I had the chance to?” 

-- Devin Allen, self-taught photographer whose photographs of
the 2015 Baltimore protests landed the cover of TIME Magazine

Margaret Mead, renowned anthropologist and chair of the first ever Salzburg Global Seminar session in 1947 once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Closing this year’s program, session facilitator Shelagh Wright echoed this sentiment saying: “Every time I leave here, I think maybe the world will be alright after all because it's in the hands of people like you!”

The YCI Forum grew from the 2012 program “The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders,” held in collaboration with the US-based National Arts Strategies. Salzburg Global Seminar has a long history in programs around culture and the arts. Founded in 1947 as the “Salzburg Seminar in American Studies”, the independent, non-profit organization has held more than 70 programs dedicated to the cultural sector, including theater and cinema, literature and libraries, museums and galleries, and cultural heritage.

The YCI Forum is held by Salzburg Global Seminar and was supported this year by The Edward T. Cone Foundation, the Fondation Adelman pour l’Education, the American Express Foundation, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Fulbright Greece, the Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, Elizabeth S. MacMillan Fellowship, the Mexican Business Council Fellowship Program, the Nippon Foundation, Red Bull Amaphiko, the Stichting De Verre Bergen, Adena and David Testa, the US Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia and the HDH Wills (1965) Charitable Trust. More information on the session can be found here:

Salzburg Global Welcomes Eclectic Group of Cultural Innovators
Participants of last year's YCI Forum built global networks and engaged in capacity-building workshops
Salzburg Global Welcomes Eclectic Group of Cultural Innovators
Heather Jaber 
On October 17, Salzburg Global Seminar welcomes one of its most diverse and vibrant groups of participants — 60 photographers, producers, inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, Ph.D students, and even a member of the Danish Parliament.  What threads this eclectic group together is a shared visions of cultural innovation and positive social change. The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI) is a ten-year project by Salzburg Global Seminar which brings together dynamic young cultural innovators from around the world. This is the second instalment of the Forum, following its inaugural session in 2014. “Our second annual Young Cultural Innovators Forum brings together another outstanding cohort of dynamic cultural change makers from our growing YCI Hub network around the world,” said Susana Seidl-Fox, Salzburg Global Program Director for Culture and the Arts, “which includes the cities of Athens, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Phnom Penh, Rotterdam, Salzburg, Seoul, and Tokyo. We are especially delighted to be welcoming participants from Cape Town as well this year.”  These artists, creative entrepreneurs, and cultural leaders come from 10 “culture hubs” in six regions of the world to foster global networks and engage with innovative ideas for social change. Over a period of five days, cultural innovators and expert facilitators will engage in collaborative sessions that deal with capacity-building. The participants will gather in mini-sessions and workshops to engage in problem-solving, presentations, and peer meetings. The workshops focus on skill-building in communication, entrepreneurialism, technology, and leadership. Other discussion topics include the creative transformations of cities and cross-sectoral synergies.  The forum not only gathers participants annually, but allows Fellows to continue engagement throughout the year. Since last year’s session, there has been a mini-YCI Forum in Athens and a “Baltimore after Freddie Gray” event. “We look forward to connecting this year’s and last year’s Fellows both virtually and on the ground in their respective YCI city hubs,” said Seidl-Fox, “and we are more than ever committed to making the YCI Forum an ongoing vibrant focal point for international exchange, emerging leadership, urban transformation, and innovation in the cultural sector.” Facilitators and speakers this year come from all over the world and have eclectic backgrounds to boot. They include directors, designers, officials, and cultural brokers, to name a few, and come from the UK, Australia, the US, Denmark, Japan, South Africa, Lebanon, South Korea, and Argentina. The Forum grew from the 2012 program The Salzburg Forum for Young Cultural Leaders, and aims to hold its third instalment from its ten-year program, The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators III, in 2016. 
The Salzburg Global program is part of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. The list of our partners for Session 554 can be found here. For more information, please visit:
Nurturing the New Creator - Report now online
Nurturing the New Creator - Report now online
Salzburg Global Seminar staff 
The report from the June 2015 workshop Nurturing the New Creator - hosted by Salzburg Global Seminar and the Athens-based collective cultureFWD - is now available online to read, download and share. cultureFWD is an independent cultural network founded by the five Young Cultural Innovators from Athens who participated in the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in October 2014. Forty-eight participants from a broad spectrum of cultural organizations and creative enterprises in Greece, the United States and the United Kingdom gathered at the BIOS center for art and cross media in Athens for the intensive gathering. The interactive, education Athens workshop represents part of the greater plan of cultureFWD to help reinforce the role of culture and the arts in society and the economy in Athens. Applying the successful Salzburg Global model in the regional context, cultureFWD aims to break new ground for the culture and creative industries of Greece, by forming  a regional hub that highlights the value of the arts, promotes the work of local creatives and connects them to a global community of cultural innovators.   Salzburg Global Program Director for Culture and the Arts, Susanna Seidl-Fox said: “Given the dramatic course of events in Greece since the June 23  workshop, we hope that the Salzburg Global Young Cultural Innovators Forum can help by providing capacity building and networking opportunities to even more young cultural innovators in Athens, whose creativity will be critical for driving innovation and sustainable development in their communities in the future.”
Download the report as a PDF
For more information on the Salzburg Global Young Cultural Innovators Forum, please visit:  For more information on the workshop, please visit:  The event was made possible thanks to the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Fulbright Greece and BIOS.
Harry Ballan - "It was the Salzburg Global Seminar program on Neuroscience and the Arts that made all the difference"
Harry Ballan - "It was the Salzburg Global Seminar program on Neuroscience and the Arts that made all the difference"
Jan Heinecke 
Inspired by his participation in Session 547 The Neuroscience of Art: What are the Sources of Creativity and Innovation?, Harry Ballan decided to fundamentally change his career path. He was interviewed about his motivation by The American Lawyer and sent the following statement along with the article: “The attached article from the American Lawyer is a reporter's account of a transition I recently made from being a partner at a leading international law firm to a clinician, researcher and teacher in music cognition and therapy. I had received training in music theory (Ph.D. from Yale) prior to law school; nevertheless, the transition back to music from law at the age of 55 (with my prime years as a lawyer ahead of me) and the decision to relinquish partnership at a prestigious international firm was a difficult one. It was the Salzburg Global Seminar on neuroscience and the arts that made all the difference. It was there, in the inspiring company of a group of neuroscientists and artists dedicated to pursuing the question of how these two areas of learning and action could be joined, that I saw clearly the possibilities of returning to music cognition and related therapies and research. I feel endless gratitude to the conference organizers and my fellow participants for the opportunity to think together about the nexus between neuroscience and the arts and for the ongoing support to follow a dream.”
Full text of the article in The American Lawyer:
"Former Davis Polk Partner Now Playing A Different Tune" BY: Nell Gluckman Instead of spending his Thursday afternoon negotiating a stock purchase agreement or working on a capital markets transaction, as would normally be the case, tax attorney Harry Ballan was in the New York City borough of the Bronx helping facilitate a therapeutic music session with a group of seven veterans.
As the now-retired Davis Polk & Wardwell partner explained it, his new job is to make sure that group members, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, have the right instruments to participate in the music circle and to give piano lessons after the session is over.
Ballan, 55, has transitioned into a senior counsel position at Davis Polk in order to pursue a lifelong interest in a problem that is seemingly unrelated to the practice of tax law: how music can be used to understand the brain.
Since July 1, he has been working as a director at the Oliver Sacks' Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) in the Bronx, where the therapeutic music sessions take place. Ballan is also creating a course on music and the brain that he will teach at New York's Yeshiva University next fall and The Juilliard School next spring.
These interests are not new for Ballan, but more a return to a career he once thought he would pursue. Before attending Columbia Law School, Ballan earned a Ph.D. in the history and theory of music at the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He taught music for several years at Penn State and Brandeis universities before changing course in his career to pursue a law degree.
Ballan joined Davis Polk as an associate in 1993 after graduating from law school and completed a clerkship with the late Wilfred Feinberg, a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has worked on litigation matters and transactions, providing tax advice on deals such as Aetna's purchase of Coventry Health Care and the merger of Penguin and Random House, both in 2012.
But throughout his nearly quarter-century at Davis Polk, Ballan has maintained an interest in the intersection of music and neuroscience. The passion intensified dramatically in March 2011, when his father became ill and entered what Ballan referred to as a "minimally conscious state."
"There are states of the brain where there may be awareness, there may be attention and even focused attention, there may be self-reference," Ballan said, explaining what he has learned about his father's condition. "We now understand that a minimally conscious person can be aware, can have memory."
Ballan said he had a conviction that though his father was unable to talk or move, music was reaching him. He said he made sure that his father listened to music continuously until his death several months later. Ballan described feeling an overpowering sense of curiosity about what his father had been going through.
"After my father died, I was really consumed with this deep need to know what had transpired between us in the last months of his life," he said.
This question, along with his background in music theory, prompted him to seek out people studying science and music, including Jonathan Berger, a Stanford University professor who told Ballan about the IMNF.
In 2014, Ballan joined the board of directors of the IMNF, which develops music therapy treatments for patients with various neurological diseases and conditions. He also began helping with therapy sessions for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder on the weekends. Ballan's work with the institute has had a profound effect on his worldview, he said.
"To see someone who hasn't spoken in years speak, it shatters your idea of what it means to be human," he said. After music therapy sessions, Ballan said "people find themselves walking more comfortably; they find their balance is improved; they find their immune system is better; but most of all, they rediscover joy."
Ballan said he is nostalgic about his work at Davis Polk and added that his partners are supportive of his interests outside the firm, though he was quick to point out that until now, he always pursued them outside the workday.
"It's exactly the kind of thing we like to see our partners do-have successful careers and be partners of the highest caliber but also find the time to give back," said Davis Polk managing partner Thomas Reid, who assumed leadership of the firm in 2011.
Ballan's interest extends beyond simply helping people, though he said doing so is his greatest motivator. He has also become increasingly involved in the science of music and got involved with a research project by Joy Hirsch, a psychiatry professor at the Yale School of Medicine studying how different brains interact with each other. At times he visited her lab in New Haven, Connecticut, early in the morning before going to work at Davis Polk in New York.
"I don't sleep very much," admitted Ballan.
Ballan said his personal interests and his law practice are not entirely unrelated. He thinks lawyers and scientists have a lot to teach each other about the respective ways they approach evidence.
"The lawyer is trained to ask a question of a person who is demonstrated to be an expert through ways that the law has developed," he said. For scientists, Ballan said randomized control trials are the gold standard when seeking proof. Those methods use a different cognitive machinery than a lawyer's training, which is to evaluate credibility.
Elkhonon Goldberg, a neurology professor at the New York University School of Medicine, who Ballan said has been one of his teachers, said the Davis Polk lawyer's position gives him a unique perspective.
"Clearly lawyers do think differently," Goldberg said. "So too [do] musicians. So too [do] the hardcore scientists. Harry's now in the position to converge these perspectives."
Ballan said he hopes one of his main contributions will be to advocate on behalf of organizations like IMNF, something Goldberg said is much needed.
"Using music as a form of therapy and as a way to research these notions are not well engrained in the general public consciousness," Goldberg said. "And so what he's doing around public awareness is important."

You can also read the article online on The American Lawyer’s homepage.

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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.