YCI Forum - Bridging Divides on a Global Scale

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Oct 18, 2018
by Oscar Tollast
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YCI Forum - Bridging Divides on a Global Scale

Participants discuss the contexts within which they work, the divides that exist in their cities and regions, and how they can be bridged Participants in discussion in the Robison Gallery at Schloss Leopoldskron

In her maiden speech to the British Parliament, the late Jo Cox said, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” Participants of the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators were reminded of this quote as they met to discuss the communities and contexts within which they worked.

On Wednesday afternoon, participants took part in an interactive, online exercise which involved realtime voting. Initially, they were asked to consider how they felt now and how they hoped to feel at the end of the program. Several people still felt tired, but there was an overwhelming response that the group felt happy, excited, and inspired. Building on this platform, participants hoped to leave Salzburg connected, motivated, hopeful, and empowered.

The majority of participants in this year’s program are working within communities that have more than one million people. Each participant was asked to submit three words to define their community/city. Words such as diverse, busy, resilient, and conservative were popular choices.

Divides highlighted in these communities included class, race, gender, economic, and political. In addition to this, participants were asked to identify some of the greatest challenges their communities were facing. From all corners of the world, participants identified education, housing, and poverty as key issues.

Looking toward the future, participants were asked to think about words they hoped would describe 2050. A range of words were put forward, but it appeared there was an overarching hope that the world in 2050 would be vibrant, healthy, progressive and safe.

Participants explored this topic further in table discussions within their hubs. They were asked to consider whether the divides in their communities were getting worse or better and who or what was the cause. Were they working to bridge these divides? If yes, were they doing it alone? If no, what was stopping them?

There are tools, tactics and strategies which can be implemented to bridge divides. Participants were asked to think about where they could look for inspiration and hope in their communities, their countries, and around the world to do so. With this in mind, is there a particular divide they themselves within their YCI Hubs could help to bridge?

This topic will be discussed further over the next few days.


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators V is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Arts Council Korea, Asia-Europe Foundation,  Bush Foundation, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Foundation Adelman pour l’Education, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, Korea Foundation, the Llewellyn Thompson Memorial Fellowship, Robert Bosch Stiftung, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Nippon Foundation, World Culture Open, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the program can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.