The Future Of The “Young” Cultural Innovators Forum

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Jun 24, 2021
by Faye Hobson
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The Future Of The “Young” Cultural Innovators Forum

Associate Program Director Faye Hobson explains recent changes to the multi-year series   Illustration by Marcello Petruzzi, Housatonic

In 2013, Salzburg Global Seminar launched a new multi-year series to connect creatives and communities in cities and regions worldwide. The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, also known as the Young Cultural Innovators Forum, has since grown into a multi-disciplinary network encompassing creative practices including the visual and performing arts, literature, music, food, fashion, architecture, and design.

The Forum has welcomed more than 350 young cultural innovators (YCIs) from Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malta, the Mekong Delta, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Slovakia, South Africa, the UAE, and the USA. Thanks to the support of our partners, 32 mobility projects between 12 countries have involved more than 80 of these innovators.

Community co-creation is at the center of the Forum. By moving from “me to we,” each of us can build collective, collaborative, and cross-sectoral change. The program has continually evolved and adapted to the needs of the Fellows involved.

Earlier this year, we decided to reach out to our YCIs to ask for their feedback on our multi-year series name. Why? We received comments that by including “Young” in the title, we may exclude others and appear ageist.  

The original rationale behind the inclusion of “Young” was to communicate the importance of supporting rising talents and mid-career professionals. However, as the series has grown, so have our inaugural network members and the Fellows who have followed.  

As a first step, we launched a poll in our closed Facebook group, reaching 263 people. We presented three options and allowed Fellows to suggest alternative names. The original options included the Cultural Innovators Forum, Emerging Cultural Innovators Forum, and the existing name: the Young Cultural Innovators Forum.  

The feedback we received was hugely valuable. In total, we received 92 votes and many comments, which have helped us think about how we better communicate who we are looking for in future recruitment campaigns. Most of our Fellows who voted (84.78%) lent their support to one option. So we have listened to our Fellows, and we have responded.  

We are excited to confirm our multi-year series new name is the Cultural Innovators Forum.

Will this change who can apply for this program? Our focus will remain on helping rising professionals working in the cultural sector, but we will not be listing ages in our future call for applications as we have done so in the past.  

The Forum has always sought to bring in diverse participants, but we are now making a public commitment to prioritize applications from people of color, people with disabilities, those who identify as LGBT*, individuals with low-income backgrounds, and those from ethnically diverse, Indigenous, and migrant backgrounds.

Diversity is the strength of the Cultural Innovators Forum. We have Fellows with a range of life experiences, professional paths, and creative disciplines. We recognize the impact we can have on people’s lives and careers by providing them with their first international experience.  

We are continuing to look for like-minded and values-based partners to help scale this work and support our growing network. To find out how to become a support, send me an email and get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.


* LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, and we would wish it to be read as inclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender non-conforming identities.