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


Peace-building & the Arts - Day 1: Time/Space Continuum
Peace-building & the Arts - Day 1: Time/Space Continuum
Louise Hallman 
There are two key questions that face James Thompson, lead researcher of InPlaceofWar.net and professor of applied and social theater at the University of Manchester in the UK, in his research: why do people continue to practice and engage in theater during times of war and conflict? And, conversely, why do people assume that they do not? Speaking at the opening of the Salzburg Global Seminar session “Conflict Transformation through Culture: Peace-Building and the Arts”, Thompson introduced the 63 Salzburg Global Fellows gathered in the Great Hall to his time/space matrix. At the nexus of these two axes – time in one direction, space perpendicular – is the ongoing war or conflict (“the bombs are landing on your head”).  The space axis reaches to the next town away from the fighting, to refugee camps, to countries over the border offering asylum, eventually reaching diaspora communities. Time reaches from the current situation to months, years and eventually generations later. Within this matrix lie many time and space combinations: the diaspora or refugee community at the time of war, or the next generation now living in the original place of conflict are just two examples. For these different groups, in different spaces and times, there are different reasons why they engage in theater or indeed any other artistic or cultural pursuit; as either outsiders assisting this artistic expression or insiders in the communities we need to recognize and respect these different motivations and interests. If the assumption isn’t just simply that art doesn’t happen in times of war (a false conception Thompson discovered in his research ahead of a trip to northern Sri Lanka in 2000 when another academic posited in her book that theater doesn’t happen in the Tamil areas because of the war despite the dynamic and diverse theater scene that existed in the conflict-riddled towns and villages), then the often, equally misinformed, assumption is that the art that should exist in this particular space and time is that which directly addresses the ongoing conflict. Thompson’s 14 years of research have found that this is often not the case – the closer people are to the conflict, in both their space and time, the less likely they are to center that art around the conflict. In fact, in this space and time the vast majority of the art created, be that theater, music, dance, or any other medium, is focused on anything but the conflict, with the purpose of forgetting about the war around them. They are not creating art because of the conflict, but in spite of it.  It is also in this space that one often finds a lot of art aimed at children, enabling them to distance themselves from the conflict that engulfs their daily lives (or in the case of northern Sri Lanka, providing theater directors with an audience and outlet before the nightly curfew was imposed).Donors and artists seeking to help these communities in the thralls of war should take this need to distance themselves from war into consideration when they formulate their programs, advised Thompson. Moving away from the center of this matrix, however, allows for differing needs and perspectives, but some of the typical arts and peace-building projects found in these other times and spaces also encounter difficulties. Many arts projects in the same space but at a later time as the original conflict focus on justice and reconciliation, often as if the two terms were totally complimentary or even synonymous. But in truth, these two themes are not always naturally aligned. To achieve a sense of justice for one community can be at the expense of establishing reconciliation with another. And to seek reconciliation can sometimes leave some victims without a sense of justice for past grievances. Sometimes we have to suspend one to achieve the other, and we have to realize that sometimes we fail the communities we’re trying to serve by either foisting one or the other upon them or hindering the development of both. Further along the time and often also the space axes is art that focuses on remembrance and commemoration. These are often focused on the predominant narrative of available testimony, which can be problematic for those who feel excluded from that narrative. Focus on remembrance and commemoration also leads to the dismissal of projects that aim to help communities forget the conflict. Communities are frequently told they must remember, they must commemorate past conflicts – and they must have a right to this – but equally they must have the right to not do so; they must have the right to silence. But that is not to say that non-remembrance must be a passive silence – it can be loud and joyous. Much like the art at the nexus of the time and space and war – it can be a celebration of life, rather than a commemoration of the dead. In communities that have faced long divisions, there exists in peace-building art the “disease” of “Romeo and Julietism” or “Romeo and Julietitis,” warned Thompson. There have been a multitude of theater productions that center around the idea of a Palestinian girl falling in love with an Israeli boy, or a Hutu with a Tutsi, or a Northern Irish Catholic with a Protestant, and so on. Whilst these productions have the noble idea that they are exemplifying the overcoming of division, they are also reaffirming that division and helping to maintain the very narrative the art is trying to change. There are in fact many other divisions within communities, such as generational, that are overlooked in these stereotypical narratives. Addressing these divisions can offer the possibility of overcoming the main division. Also, there is nothing wrong with focusing on helping one community to heal, before expecting it to address its issues with the other. Ultimately, many of these issues surrounding what art is appropriate at what point stems two problematic core teachings, argued Thompson. One is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which places creativity at the top of the pyramid, meaning this should only be satisfied once the basic physiological and safety (as well as love and belonging and esteem) needs have been met; needs that the most under threat in times of war and conflict. The second stems from Theodor Adorno’s saying “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”. Adorno implied that to create art about suffering was to denigrate that suffering. Both these teachings deny the importance of arts during and after conflict. But time and again it is proven that even when their basic needs are not being met, people still crave outlets that allow them to escape the misery they live in and to remember the experiences they have endured. Thompson closed with a quote from Pablo Picasso, who famously depicted the horrors of the Spanish Civil War with his painting Guernica: “Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” Just as art can help communities and individuals distract themselves or heal the scars of war, it too can be a weapon. “Not all art is positive,” warned Thompson. 
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Conflict Transformation through Culture: Peace-Building and the Arts
Conflict Transformation through Culture: Peace-Building and the Arts
Alex Jackson 
“Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war,” or so believed Pablo Picasso. Perhaps it is telling then that no European artist has risen to the same international prominence as the Spaniard, following more than 60 years without armed conflict in Western Europe. But there is much to be said for the role of culture and its impact upon the art of warfare. Art draws inspiration from the world around it and reflects on cultural, political and social moments to pass comment and critique. It is important then that this dialogue is not isolated, but that the artwork, be it in film, music, painting, literature or beyond, feeds back into the society and creates ripple effects, galvanizing change, instigating movements and rousing protests. In a multimedia age, there has been a proliferation of materials that aim to highlight social problems and what we are able to learn from these mistakes. Consider important films such as ‘The Manchurian Candidate’, which focused on espionage, conspiracy, assassins in a perfect anecdote to the Cold War; ‘Apocalypse Now’ which exposed the blood-chilling horror of Vietnam in excruciating and surreal detail by envisaging a self-destructive world inhabited by troubled and lost men; and ‘Paths of Glory’, reminding us of the difficult and near impossible decisions we must make not just to save ourselves but our wider social and cultural spheres, and a harsh indictment of the gap between leadership and soldier. Novels – including ‘La Peste’, a social commentary on Nazi occupation and being left stranded amidst this ‘infestation’; ‘1984’ which rightly prophesized the continual surveillance and suspicion that has come to tinge 21st century lives well after the Cold War; ‘Catch 22’, a stark reminder that the definition of sanity, particularly for those that have suffered at the hands of their political or social positions, is extremely flexible – have all become synonymous with the lingering threat of war and an almost inherent mistrust of different social structures. Such examples of art have gone on to influence millions of people around the world, and are just a snapshot of 20th Century reflections on a world that has been twice plunged into devastating World Wars, only to be further divided and threatened both physically and ideologically in the latter half of the century. If there were ever a power that can unite different continents it's the arts; the unilateral appeal of a true work of art can make a person stop, take stock and reflect on social progression. Salzburg Global Seminar is of course the perfect location to breach this issue of promoting peace through alternative means. Not only has Salzburg Global Seminar long sought to foster better international relations, not only economically and politically, but also culturally, following decades of destructive war, having been formed in 1947 to develop as a “Marshall Plan of the Mind”, but its home at Schloss Leopoldskron, in rooted in both art and conflict. Having been built by an Archbishop who became most well known for his expulsion of 20,000 Protestants from Salzburg, the palace was later bought by theater impresario Max Reinhardt, who established Schloss Leopoldskron as a cultural hub before he, as a Jew, was forced to flee the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938. During the war, the Schloss was occupied by the local Nazi party and was damaged when a bomb landed in the neighboring lake. The scars of shrapnel can still be seen in the Chinese Room.   At the session, Conflict Transformation through Culture: Peace-Building and the Arts, hosted from April 6 to 10 at Schloss Leopoldskron, participants will be invited to consider the role of cultural institutions, from museums and art galleries to film studios, can play in post-conflict reconciliation and forgiveness. By uniting important players from NGOs, the arts, the media, and cultural hubs, it is hoped that the session, sponsored by the Edward T. Cone Foundation and the Robert Bosch Foundation, will foster a new attitude towards the way art presents itself as a catalyst for social impact and social change. Participants will reflect on inspirational examples of art that have helped create social change and peace, and will consider whether the lessons presented in these cases can be improved upon and put into practice in wider contexts. Often, we find that the element of empathy and honest humanity are key factors in introducing a space for dialogue and debate on wide ranging issues, to find mutual grounds and common understanding. Diplomacy is something advocated at large in these works. By depicting repressed groups, those under threat of war, the greed of humanity, the staggering scale of injustice, those who interact with art are often prompted to find alternative diplomatic solutions to these problems. The aim of the session is to develop and implement up to five “Building Peace Through Arts” pilot projects in critical conflict-ridden regions around the world over the next five years. It is hoped that these art forms will not only highlight methods by which aggression and hostility can give way to forgiveness and reconciliation, but will also be able to tackle root causes of divisions and heal the traumas of conflict ridden and culturally bankrupt societies. It may be said that every true artist is at war with the world; their work is at war with the cultural moment in which it finds itself, and has to defend itself against criticism, rebuke, mockery. In generating the debate, the lessons of art and war are intertwined, and art stands as a constant reminder of the lessons of the past and the direction of the future.      
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Salzburg Global 2014 Program now available online
Salzburg Global 2014 Program now available online
Oscar Tollast 
Salzburg Global’s 2014 Program will feature over 25 distinctive sessions and workshops inspired by three interdependent values: Imagination, Sustainability and Justice. The three values underpin Salzburg Global’s new program ‘clusters’ and aim to form the foundations for global citizenship. Under these ‘clusters’, a number of topics will be discussed. For example, participants will be asked how societies can renew their education, how to improve life chances for present and future generations, or examine how societies can reframe responsibilities. The 2014 Program brings together distinctive multi-year projects and partnerships with the common goal of promoting vision, courage and leadership to tackle the most complex challenges of a globalized society. The Salzburg Academies – covering Global Citizenship, Media and Global Change, and the Future of International Law – will continue to prepare outstanding young people with the skills to drive change. Salzburg Global Seminar remains determined in breaking down barriers separating people and ideas. It spans the world’s regions and challenges countries at all stage of development and institutions across all sectors to rethink their relationship and identify shared interests and goals. The program is available for download as PDF. 2014 Program Brochure
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Promoting the Next Generation of Cultural Entrepreneurs
Promoting the Next Generation of Cultural Entrepreneurs
Susi Seidl-Fox 
Building on the success of our 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum - which brought together forty-seven young cultural leaders from thirty-seven countries around the globe for an intensive leadership development program convened in partnership with National Arts Strategies - Salzburg Global Seminar is committed to evolving the Forum into a global focal point for international exchange and innovation around creative, cultural entrepreneurship. Salzburg Global is convening leading thinkers and practitioners for an October 2013 strategy meeting to critique and fine-tune the 10-year program plan. Attendees will include several participants from the Young Cultural Leaders Forum, as well as established cultural entrepreneurs, and potential partners and donors. Participants will engage in strategy sessions, creative idea development, and the sharing of experiences and lessons for the benefit of the program design. This global group of participants will consult together and act as a focus group on needs assessment, designing impact, fine-tuning program components, establishing effective networks, and measuring success. Participation in the Strategy Meeting is by invitation only.
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Belisa Rodrigues: “We are very open to engaging with our partners”
Belisa Rodrigues: “We are very open to engaging with our partners”
Oscar Tollast 
The manager of a pan-African arts association has said she is open to exposing its networks to Salzburg Global. Belisa Rodrigues manages the day-to-day operations of the Arterial Network and is the general manager of the African Arts Institute based in Cape Town, South Africa. The Arterial Network is a pan-African association of artists, cultural activists, creative entrepreneurs and cultural policy experts represented in 40 African countries. Ms Rodrigues said: “We’re looking for sustainability strategies in order to show that these networks flourish and are strengthened. “If the idea is around cultural hubs, rotating seminars or getting the conversation to move around – if we can help in that – whether it be online or whether it be a physical space, we are very open to engaging with our partners and making that possible.” Ms Rodrigues was speaking to Salzburg Global during the recent strategy session on ‘Promoting the Next Generation of Cultural Entrepreneurs: Planning for Success.’ Participants convened at Schloss Leopoldskron to discuss ways in which the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum could evolve into a 10-year program, a session which Ms Rodrigues attended last year. She said her invitation to last year’s forum was a great opportunity to be in a global environment. “Often in our context when it comes to African representation in international forums, there’s normally one or two representatives and their voices get lost amidst the other international players. “This was a very strategic opportunity for us to represent the continent through our networks and through my representation for Africa.” Participants at this year’s strategy session focused on how the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum was organized, as well as assessing its methodology and teaching styles. Ms Rodrigues said: “We’ve managed to break it down and analyze it and put forward some recommendations that will be useful for the next session and for the next 10 years in terms of how entrepreneurship is taught in the cultural field. “The biggest takeaway for me was involving the participants themselves more intimately in the teaching methodology – using participants as live case studies.” She praised Salzburg Global for picking out themes that were relevant to the cultural sector, including the role of arts organizations in society. “I think for the next seminar series in terms of entrepreneurship, it’s very important to be able to understand the geopolitical and economic context in which we are operating in. “That’s a unique role that the Salzburg Global Seminar can present because it’s about getting big picture thinking and then finding how to navigate in this global environment.” During the session, Ms Rodrigues spoke at a fireside discussion about the geopolitical and economic context of Africa and the creative economy. She said: “I was able to provide some examples of cultural entrepreneurs who are doing it despite the constraints on the continent and in their countries.” The strategy session followed on from this year’s African Creative Economy Conference, held in Cape Town, which inspired Ms Rodrigues’ lecture. “My talk was basically trying to take some of [the conference’s] recommendations and some of the thinking around this topic into this international platform which is exactly what the Salzburg Global Seminar series should be doing, which is capitalizing on the knowledge of its participants.” Ms Rodrigues has a passion for the development and sustainability of the creative and cultural sector on the African continent and its ability to effect change in society. Prior to her work at the African Arts Institute, she worked in the private sector for a number of years as Operations Manager for a global FMGG brand, and has also been involved in various freelance arts projects. She describes herself at a “middle-management level” in her career, helping to support her manager to do more representative work. However, Ms Rodrigues suggested she was beginning to enter a new phase of influence. “I see myself now transitioning in that area where I’m presenting more in terms of personal career development [and] personal goals. I’m stepping more into those spaces. “Even though I’m an administrator, I’ve now become more aware of policy development and actually influencing the field.” Ms Rodrigues recognized the significance of being involved and connected with global thinkers at Salzburg Global. “Being invited back is testimony to the fact that we have a unique role to play on the African continent, but recognizing we’re not operating in isolation. “I think if we can insert or influence agenda, I think that is a really relevant and particular role I can see for the seminar.”
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Felipe Buitrago: “We are in an age of innovation”
Felipe Buitrago: “We are in an age of innovation”
Oscar Tollast 
Sitting in the finely decorated Chinese Room at Schloss Leopoldskron, Felipe Buitrago’s reason for being at Salzburg Global is simple. “I am at the Salzburg Global Seminar because I want to make the world economy a more creative economy.” Mr Buitrago is consultant of the Division of Cultural Affairs, Solidarity and Creativity at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C, where he leads the Cultural and Creative Economy Lab. He found himself, among other leading thinkers, at Salzburg Global earlier this month for a strategy session entitled ‘Promoting the Next Generation of Cultural Entrepreneurs: Planning for Success’. The aim of the session was to help evolve the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum into a 10-year program. “There’s a partnership that is starting to make an innovative approach, which at the same time returns to its roots,” said Mr Buitrago, describing the significance of the session. “The cultural sector in particular is way behind in many of the strategic discussions at a global level. It’s very important that it’s included here now and focused on young cultural entrepreneurs. “We are in an age of innovation and the fact that [cultural entrepreneurs] are taking the risk to try new formats [and] involve people in a different way is very important.” For over 11 years, Mr Buitrago has worked in creative economy development on behalf of the Colombian Ministry of Culture, the British Council, the Ibero-American Observatory of Copyright (ODAI), and separately as an independent consultant and university professor. He described the strategy session’s topic as very important and relevant to the work being conducted at the Inter-American Development Bank. The bank is aiming to improve the communication tools for cultural entrepreneurs in the Latin American and Caribbean region. It aims to reaffirm the relevance of the creative and cultural industries for regional economic development. Speaking during the session, Mr Buitrago said, “Being here, meeting these very interesting people from all over the world helps me understand better what I’m doing. With that I can actually improve my ability to communicate and reach out for the similar leaders across the region.” Mr Buitrago would like to see more opportunities given to young people, to help develop their skills and provide employment. However, he suggested the world was in the middle of a large economic transition. Past economic disruptions have been caused by developments in agriculture and the industrial revolution. Mr Buitrago suggested the latest disturbance was being caused by digitization. “The new generation is coming through with new skills [and] has a different relationship with technology, but the people managing the economies are not aware how it works. “It’s our job to try and help people, especially the people in charge right now to understand what’s coming next so they can start preparing the ground for them.” Mr Buitrago has experience in research, international negotiations, design and evaluation of policy and development programs in more than a dozen countries around the world. He has collaborated on a number of publications, including ‘Creative Lebanon’ and ‘A Tanzania for the Creatives,’ both published in 2009. His latest publication is entitled, ‘The Orange Economy’. On the first evening of the strategy session, Mr Buitrago attempted to convey his latest book’s main arguments to the rest of the participants. “In this book, we are trying to communicate the statistics behind the creative economy, in particular to help the policymakers make decisions about it. “We provide some tools to understand the nature of this: how this ecology works; how there’s one supply side and a demand side but also an institutional side; and how you have to look at this in a multidimensional way in order to cover it.” In order to provide for this multidimensional approach, Mr Buitrago said his team had come up with "the seven Is” for the development of the Orange Economy. These include: information, institutions, industry, infrastructure, integration, inclusion, and inspiration. Mr Buitrago argued information is needed in order to make informed decisions, adding institutions and industry needed to be developed to combine creative talent with entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking capitalists. This can be improved by providing greater access for cultural artists through infrastructure. The experienced consultant suggested creative activities played a significant role in terms of inclusion. “Creative activities have shown an incredible potential to help solve the social, economic, political and inclusion gaps in terms of diversity of gender, sexual orientation and political differences.” But for progress to be made, Mr Buitrago said one factor could not be prioritized over another. In his eyes, it’s a process that starts and ends with the individual. He concluded the interview by saying, “It has to be all worked together and integrated in order to be effective."
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Lyne Sneige: “The diversity that the seminar offers is unique”
Lyne Sneige: “The diversity that the seminar offers is unique”
Oscar Tollast 
Lyne Sneige, a freelancer and consultant on cultural affairs, has described the diversity of participants at Salzburg Global’s sessions as unique. She returned to Salzburg Global for her second visit to take part in a strategy session entitled, ‘Promoting the Next Generation of Cultural Entrepreneurs: Planning for Success’. Ms Sneige said: “You don’t get to go to many meetings with such diversity. “I think that the diversity that the seminar offers is unique [with] the fact that you are able to listen to experiences that are so diverse and to problems that are so different – different and common at the same time.” At this year’s strategy session, Ms Sneige engaged in creative idea development discussions to help design a new 10-year program to evolve from the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum. She took part in a number of brainstorming exercises, working within small groups to assist in fine-tuning components of the program. Ms Sneige, who has 17 years of experience in international development in the Middle East, described it as a huge responsibility to be a part of group designing a project with a 10-year lifespan. “It was very interesting to hear the experiences of the young cultural entrepreneurs who were here last year and that has helped us shed light on many things that we needed to know to be able to move forward. “I think the brainstorming sessions were very valuable on their own and as a process to develop the project.” On the first evening of the session, Ms Sneige spoke to participants as part of a fireside chat on global views on cultural entrepreneurship. She spoke of the multitude of countries that exist within the region, each having their own specificities. “I just wanted to highlight the shifting role of the artist within this [region] and the pivotal role they have played in actually trying to change their societies. “I wanted to show that there are still very vibrant art scenes [and] that cultural entrepreneurs are taking things in their hands more than ever before.” Ms Sneige highlighted the positive use of technology to allow projects to travel and reach more people with a click of a button. She also emphasized the powerful role of places and what they can provide to different aspects of social life and the arts and cultural sector. “We have seen in many, many countries how they have tried to occupy public spaces and to use them in a different way – to animate them – to reclaim the space. “They have done that through artistic means with dance, performance [and] participatory art. I wanted to shed light on this because that is very important in the discourse here and the role and function of the cultural entrepreneur in the bigger picture.” Ms Sneige previously attended Salzburg Global in 2010 for a session entitled ‘The Performance Arts in Lean Times: Opportunities for Reinvention'. “I was invited three years ago to attend a session performing arts in difficult financial times and that has been an eye opener for me. “I remained in touch with the fantastic network that it provided and with the core group here.” Prior to freelancing, Ms Sneige was deputy director in relation to Lebanon and regional projects manager for arts and culture for the Middle East at the British Council. She spearheaded several initiatives such as the creative economy and cultural leadership agendas in the region. It’s perhaps because of her experience she was confidently able to provide a definition of what a cultural entrepreneur was, at least in her view. “A cultural entrepreneur is somebody who is ambitious, who wants to change things in his or her environment for the better and who wants to use art and cultural tools – and mediums – to do that. “They’re people who have a lot of ambition and not enough resources. They need to think very quickly and very innovatively to be able to work with little [and] who are dreamers.”
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VOICES FROM YOUNG CULTURAL LEADERS

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.