Young Cultural Innovators “Move from Me to We” at Regional Meeting

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May 07, 2018
by Oscar Tollast
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Young Cultural Innovators “Move from Me to We” at Regional Meeting

Fellows from Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans take part in two-day program Fellows and program staff who attended the second US regional meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators

Young cultural innovators (YCIs) from Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans have strengthened their network following the conclusion of the second US regional YCI meeting.

This year’s program, supported by the Kresge Foundation, took place at the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans with 27 YCIs from both the third and fourth sessions of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators participating.

The two-day program involved YCIs taking part in a series of discussions, workshops, site visits, and interactive exercises.

Fellows from the New Orleans YCI Hub led site visits. This included an exhibition opening and performance of The Rent is Too Damn High, an event curated by YCI Fari Nzinga; an exhibition tour and talk from the Curator of the Contemporary Arts Centre, exploring new models for interdisciplinary arts centers; a walk-through of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, a cultural corridor in New Orleans; and a tour of Studio BE showcasing work of Brandan 'Bmike' Odums.

The workshop’s theme was “Moving from Me to We,” exploring further what it means to be a YCI Hub and what YCIs want to accomplish as a community of Fellows in their cities and local communities.

Salzburg Global’s Young Cultural Innovators Forum has hubs in six regions around the globe. Hubs include Adelaide, Athens, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Canada, Cape Town, Detroit, Malta, Manila, Memphis, Minnesota, Nairobi, New Orleans, Mekong Delta, Plovdiv, Rotterdam, Salzburg, Seoul, Slovakia, Tirana, and Tokyo.

Chase Cantrell, the founder of Building Community Value, based in Detroit, said, “Every time I get together with other YCIs, I realize how universal problems are in each of our cities. It has gotten me to think more about how to leverage the network for learning and collaboration.”

Yasmine Omari, marketing and education outreach coordinator at Germantown Performing Arts Center, said “meeting the YCI Fellows from the year before was really wonderful. Reconnecting with the YCIs from my year was also really great. I learn so much from listening to their struggles and projects that they are working on and it really makes me feel less alone in the work that I am doing.”

Alphonse Smith, director of place and civic design at the Arts Council New Orleans, said the experience of being able to evaluate his work and potential collaboration opportunities was productive. He said, “It challenged me to take a step back and critically reflect on the work. It was also nice to hear constructive feedback from non-New Orleans Hub members.”

YCIs were joined in New Orleans by Susanna Seidl-Fox, program director for culture and the arts at Salzburg Global, and Faye Hobson, a program associate at Salzburg Global. Clare Shine, vice president and chief program officer at Salzburg Global, and Andy Ho, US development Director at Salzburg Global, also attended the meeting to engage with Fellows. The program was led by YCI Forum facilitators Amina Dickerson, Peter Jenkinson, and Shelagh Wright.

Seidl-Fox said, “As creative change-makers, the YCIs confront similar challenges in their cities. Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans are all contending with social inequality, weak public education systems, high unemployment levels, economic disparities, and a general lack of public support for the cultural sector.   

“Working at the intersection of the arts and social change, all 27 YCIs are committed to addressing these challenges. This regional YCI meeting in New Orleans provided a rich opportunity for the YCIs to share experiences, coach each other, and strategize for the future. They represent and will shape the future of their cities.  

“Their energy, talent, and commitment are what Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans need to help them overcome the challenges of the 21st century.”

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators is a ten-year project of Salzburg Global Seminar that champions young artists and cultural change-makers who are using innovative and creative practices to catalyze civic, social, and urban transformation in their communities around the globe. For more information on the Forum, please click here.


The Regional Fellows Event is part of the multi-year Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. More information on this event, which was supported by The Kresge Foundation, can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/594