Upcoming Program


In today’s volatile world, links to the past and to place are becoming more tenuous and contested, and threats to cultural heritage – both tangible and intangible – are extremely socially and politically difficult to counter. It is a critical moment to ask what cultural heritage actually means to different people and regions, especially in the digital era, and why it is more important than ever to preserve, enhance and share cultural heritage through all available means.

Part of the long-running Culture, Arts and Society series, this invitation-only program will bring together creative thinkers and groundbreaking practitioners from around the world to reflect on and critique current approaches to cultural heritage, and to explore new frontiers in heritage innovation and collaboration.

The program will be structured along a continuum of inquiry: perceptions of the past, problematics of the present, and potential for the future.

The first area of inquiry – perceptions of the past – will have a philosophical focus, considering both positive and negative associations of cultural heritage. Participants will contrast its positive potential to create a sense of identity, reinforce social cohesion, and advance reconciliation with its negative potential to trigger conflict, perpetuate or reinforce symbols of oppression, and recreate trauma. Taking indigenous, decolonized, non-nationalistic, and non-Western interpretations into full account, they will explore whose culture and whose heritage is the focus of discourse, and how and why the language we use to talk about cultural heritage is changing. Specific questions will relate to shifting perceptions of cultural heritage in recent decades, including new concepts of tangible and intangible heritage.

The second area of inquiry – problematics of the present – will have a pragmatic focus and address ways to tackle the manifold threats to cultural heritage. Looking outwards, these include: unsustainable tourism and “destination thinking” in heritage; the impacts of climate change on tangible and intangible heritage; the destruction of cultural heritage through conflict; the illicit trafficking of cultural objects; the dislocation from roots and history linked to population displacement and rapid urbanization; and the impact of accelerating globalization on a shared sense of identity and belonging.

The third area of inquiry – potential for the future – aims to develop a visionary and transformative agenda for the cultural heritage field, supported by new advocacy tools for a range of target audiences. Participants will seek to better articulate why heritage matters to people today and in the future, and how we can unlock the amazing potential of cultural heritage.


  • In societies striving to be inclusive and equitable, how can we move toward more expansive approaches to and notions of cultural heritage?
  • What practical approaches and innovations are already being taken to counter threats to cultural heritage? What obstacles are preventing success and how can collaboration be expanded to overcome these challenges and connect new generations to their cultural heritage?
  • How could the cultural heritage sector better communicate with other sectors for mutual benefit, especially in the fields of education, urban development and tourism?
  • What innovative strategies can connect more people from all walks of life, especially new urban generations, to cultural heritage?
  • What potential does digitization have for making cultural heritage come alive in groundbreaking new ways?
  • How can advocacy work around heritage be improved? What do these developments imply for the education and training of the next generation of cultural heritage professionals?


Participants will include practitioners from the cultural heritage sector, such as museum, library, and archive professionals, as well as representatives of cultural ministries and heritage associations. They will be joined by a cross-cutting mix of technology innovators, social entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, historians and researchers, policymakers, anthropologists and cultural philanthropists.


The highly interactive program will be structured around a mix of thought-provoking presentations, curated conversations, informal interactions, knowledge exchange, and practical group work. The process seeks to combine theory, policy and practice across sectoral silos, opening up new perspectives and intensive learning opportunities. Participants will also work intensively in focus groups, allowing for in-depth group work on key issues.


This program seeks to:

  • Facilitate dialogue, exchange and new forms of networking and collaboration;
  • Develop strategies for raising greater awareness of the unique and often poorly-understood role of cultural heritage;
  • Share learning from the program through dynamic reporting (blogs, newsletters, a substantive report) with a broad, international group of stakeholders, and with the help of a media partner;
  • Jointly draft and widely disseminate a Salzburg Global Statement on the problematics and potential of cultural heritage in the 21st Century, building and expanding on the 2009 Salzburg Declaration on the Conservation and Preservation of Cultural Heritage; and
  • Inspire, incubate, and catalyze several creative and unorthodox/unconventional cultural heritage projects and networks, across generations, regions, disciplines, and sectors.