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

You are the future!
You are the future!
Salzburg Global Seminar Staff 
tanding at the front of Parker Hall and addressing 50 25-35 year olds, the president and CEO of National Arts Strategies, Russell Willis Taylor declared: “We are looking at our future. You are the future of our field!” These 50 people from 37 countries and six continents have been gathered as the inaugural in-take of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders, running from October 26 to November 1. The program has been designed in partnership between the Salzburg Global Seminar and US-based National Arts Strategies to identify and strengthen young leaders in the arts and culture sectors across the globe. Chosen from an vast field of applicants, the successful participants come a wide variety of backgrounds in the arts – from dance, music, and theater to visual media, museums, and festivals – and already have at least three years of professional experience in the cultural sector. To be selected they had to have a demonstrated interest in strengthening the position of the arts and arts institutions within societies and of having a positive impact on society, as well as showing creativity in their approach to work and openness to innovation. Through the program, co-chaired by Taylor and Mulenga Kapwepwe, chair of the National Arts Council of Zambia, these young practitioners will improve their leadership skills to enable them and their organizations to thrive in a field characterized by rapid change, uncertainty, and limited resources. Mixing theory and practice, the Young Cultural Leaders will hear lectures on the creation and communication of value, defining what is global and local in today’s interconnected world, and the role of arts organizations in society and communities, as well as participating in skills development workshops focussing on effective communication and team-building, change management and innovation—all draw on the knowledge and experience of and delivered by recognized international experts, from across the world. The intention of the annual forum is to strengthen the leadership capacity both of individuals and of the field as a whole, while at the same time enhancing international understanding and cultural exchange through a vital, new global network of young cultural leaders. Explaining why Salzburg Global Seminar had taken a leading role in developing such a program, Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine explained: “Salzburg Global Seminar was founded in 1947 but right from the start, the idea of youth being a driver and not seeing any reason to say “why not?” was part of the DNA…
 “Even in the early years, the performing arts, the different artistic disciplines were an integral part to the way they approached the values and the debate around how you build a better society so that it would not go back to war again in that century. “When you look back over the 65 years of our programming, we’ve had this continuous connective tissue of programs around the arts, around culture, but also around the social cohesion that goes with bringing people together outside their ordinary productive sectors. What we try to do now, and what is a priority as we go forward, is looking to see what we can learn from the nature of the arts in not only the way we do our culture and arts programming but also what they can tell us in the other areas of our work… “The value of learning through creative practice to collaborate, to listen, to value other voices, to value other perspectives that may seem very strange in the beginning—that set of skills is absolutely critical to global problem-solving and the mission of the Seminar is bound up with challenging creative thinking around the global problems of today and tomorrow.”
The program runs from Saturday, October 26 until Thursday, November 1. A full list of faculty is available here: To follow the discussions taking place at the seminar, please check out our Twitter hashtag #SGSycl and Twitter list:  and for more information visit the YCI webpage:
Resistance and Readiness
Resistance and Readiness
Louise Hallman and Marty Gecek 

In 2002, in a world still reeling from the recent terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, Americanists from all over the world came to Schloss Leopoldskron, Austria to address “The Continuing Challenge of America's Ethnic Pluralism”.  Ten years on, the
Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association will again tackle the issues of race and ethnicity in the US and Europe. That earlier symposium focused mainly on general issues of race and ethnicity, the impact of then-recent immigrants and refugees in the US, and concern about mounting xenophobia in the USA in the immediate wake of “9/11.” On both sides of the Atlantic, tensions between Muslim and non-Muslim groups have grown in the past ten years since the cataclysmic Twin Towers attacks in regard to issues of migration, integration, and what some have called “the limits of tolerance.” Two major wars; further terrorist attacks in Madrid, London and Texas – all purportedly perpetrated by local or home-grown Islamic extremists; increasing legislation against the wearing of religious symbols such as the burqa, niqab, and hijab (traditional Muslim women’s full face veils and headscarf) in Belgium and France; and the use of planning laws to halt the building of mosques in the USA and Switzerland, have all contributed to a sense of uneasiness and distrust for some on both sides of the religious and ethnic divides. But it is not only anti-Muslim sentiment that has grown.  Over the past decade, Europe has seen not only a growth in immigration numbers from asylum seekers – most notable in places such as the controversial Sangatte refugee camp near Calais, France – but also with the increased migration within the EU since Directive 2004/38/EC on the right to move and reside freely was introduced; statistics from the American organization, Migration Policy Institute indicate that in 2010 there were 850,000 eastern Europeans living in the UK alone.  Although these economic migrants are European, their arrival in their new European homes has been met with hostility in some areas, with the Roma community particularly affected; Roma have been expelled from towns and cities in France and Northern Ireland, driven out either by the local authorities or, in the worst incidents, angry mobs. In the US too, there have been increases in legislation to curb immigration and to root out illegal immigrants already living in the country.  Controversial new laws have been proposed and enacted, most notably the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act in Arizona. Supporters of the law claim the Arizona measure simply allows police to question legal residency only after a person has been stopped on reasonable suspicion of another crime.  Its detractors have called it “an unconstitutional and costly measure that will violate the civil rights of all Arizonans,” with accusations of racial profiling and deliberate targeting of the local Latino community. It is against this backdrop of rising racial tensions that the ninth symposium held by the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association on September 27-October 1, 2012 will again discuss these hot topics of race and ethnicity, but this time from a much more comparative perspective, looking at both the European and American experiences of immigration, nativism and the challenge of ethnic and religious diversity. Europe is threatened by a number of risks, claims a 2011 report by the Group of Eminent Persons of the Council of Europe.  ‘Living Together: Combing Diversity and Freedom in 21st Century Europe’ states rising intolerance and support for xenophobic and populist parties, along with discrimination, the development of parallel societies, and Islamic extremism, coupled with the loss of democratic freedoms and civil liberties – long held precious across liberal Western societies now in fear of “being swamped by an uncontrolled influx of immigrants and/or massacred by Islamic terrorists” – and a possible clash between “religious freedom” and freedom of expression have resulted from a growing sense of insecurity brought in part because of immigration, magnified by the distorted image of minorities and harmful stereotypes propagated in the media, and a crisis of leadership. Over the course of the four-day session, Fellows from across Europe and the US will discuss this paper – the threats and their proposed responses – together with a faculty including Farid Hafez, researcher and lecturer at the University of Vienna’s Department of Oriental Studies; Rob Kroes, former president of the European Association of American Studies; Berndt Ostendorf, Professor Emeritus of North American Cultural History at the America Institute of Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich; Rubén G. Rumbaut, Professor of Sociology at University of California – Irvine; noted local Americanist and Professor of Modern History at the University of Salzburg Reinhold Wagnleitner; as well as the report’s author, Salzburg Global Seminar’s Senior Program Adviser, Edward Mortimer. Salzburg Global Seminar is an apt place to hold such a session, not only for its own long tradition of bringing scholars of both the US and Europe together, but also for its location – an Austrian palace built by a Protestant-expelling Catholic Prince-Archbishop and once owned by the exiled Jewish theater director Max Reinhardt before being seized by the local Nazi Gauleiter – a stark reminder of the levels of religious intolerance once present in Europe. A living testament to such intolerance, faculty member Hedwig Rose will recount Fellows with her personal history as a “hidden child” in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during her talk on “The Scourge of Scapegoating.” Chaired by Peter Rose, Sophia Smith Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Anthropology and Senior Fellow of the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute, Smith College, and former director, American Studies Diploma Program, Smith College, participants will take part in plenary sessions, panels, and discussion groups looking at such topics as the push and pull factors for migration; the dichotomies between “natives” and “newcomers” and their significance in the US and various parts of Europe; identities and distinctions between “they” and “we” as expressed in politics and in the art and literature of marginality; patterns of adaptation, integration and isolation; and the varied meanings of “tolerance.” Not only will the symposium look back at the last decade, it will also conclude by looking forward – what does the future hold for ethnic and religious relations in the US and Europe? The Council of Europe report suggests that improvements will need the co-operation of a great many actors: educators, mass media, trade unions, civil society, churches and religious groups, celebrities and so-called “role models”, as well as municipal, national, regional and international institutions. But true to the 65-year history of the formerly-named Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, now Salzburg Global Seminar, and the words of first-session faculty member, the acclaimed anthropologist Margaret Mead, the symposium will start its work with a small group of committed people, and that should never be underestimated.
From the Archives - Author Saul Bellow writes in 1951
Saul Bellow
From the Archives - Author Saul Bellow writes in 1951
Chelsea Gunn 

One of the greatest aspects of working with the archives at Salzburg Global Seminar is the element of surprise that accompanies the opening of each archival box. When an organization has held sessions on such a diverse range of topics, and hosted distinguished faculty and students from so many fields, it is difficult not to stumble upon a few hidden gems. Case in point: the below letter from Saul Bellow to John McCormick, former Dean of the Salzburg Seminar. 

66-08 102nd 

St Forest Hills, L.I.N.Y. 

Dec 5, 1951

Dear Mr McCormick:

From what you tell me of your lectures I don't think we shall be covering the same ground. I am going to try to develop some of the notions about the artists in an industrial democracy, the relations of the individual and crowd, the dwindling in the stature of heroes, the constant effort of writers to strike a reliable definition of human nature, und so weither. There will probably be some duplication, but I don't suppose that we will have identitcal views.

I really don't know how much skiing time there will be for me. I have set myself the goal of winding up my book in Salzburg, and if I write in the morning and teach in the afternoon, socialize in the evening and read at night, I shall have to ski in the dawn hours.

I plan to leave Paris on New Year's Day. Between Christmas and New Year's I can be reached at Chez Kaplan, 132 Bd. du Montparnasse, Paris.


Saul Bellow

Bellow visited the Seminar as a faculty member for Session 17 - American Poetry and Prose - in January 1952. At that time, Bellow was teaching at New York University and had written two books: Dangling Man, published in 1944, and The Victim, published in 1947. His lectures at the Seminar, “The Novel from Hawthorne to the Present,” dealt with works by Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner. His seminar topics included technical innovations in American fiction and the American influence on contemporary European writers.

In his letter to McCormick, Bellow alludes to his goal to finish writing a book during his stay at Schloss Leopoldskron. Considering his novels chronologically, one might guess that the book in question was The Adventures of Augie March, published in 1953. In a 2003 essay for The Tablet, Bellow wrote: “One chapter of Augie—I then had the notion of calling it “Life Among the Machiavellians”—was written at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, the late Max Reinhardt’s baroque castle, while I was teaching in the American Seminar.”

The Adventures of Augie March is considered by many to be the work that established Bellow as an important figure in the American literary canon. It begins with the famous paragraphs:

“I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago, that somber city – and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. But a man’s character is his fate, says Heraclitus, and in the end there isn’t any way to disguise the nature of the knocks by acoustical work on the door or gloving the knuckles.

“Everybody knows there is no fineness or accuracy of suppression; if you hold down one thing you hold down the adjoining.”

The novel is a picaresque narrative: a satirical but realistic tale of a low social class protagonist. These stories are generally told in the first person, in an autobiographical style, and address issues of society as well as of personal relationships. Augie March is often said to be something of an Everyman character, reflecting, in particular, the struggles of the modern American.

This work is often compared to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and occasionally to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, two other popular modern picaresque novels. In 1954, The Adventures of Augie March received the National Book Award, and in 1976, Bellow was awarded both the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Bellow first attended the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies in April 1950, as a faculty member for Session 7 - American Literature. His work has come up in sessions devoted to literature and the arts ever since.

Faculty and fellows visiting Salzburg Global in the future may choose to pass some of their time at Schloss Leopoldskron reading a copy of The Adventures of Augie March in the very place in which a portion of it was originally penned.

Correction: November 1, 2017

This article previously stated Session 17 was the only session Bellow attended in person, but this is not the case. Bellow also attended Session 7 - American Literature in April 1950.

John Brown blogs about the current session on Cultural Diplomacy
John Brown blogs about the current session on Cultural Diplomacy
John Brown 
Displaying results 141 to 144 out of 144


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.