Young Cultural Innovators - “Who Are You and What Are You Passionate About?”




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Feb 25, 2016
by Patrick Wilson
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Young Cultural Innovators - “Who Are You and What Are You Passionate About?”

The video project Faces of Leadership focuses on the passions and purposes of Young Cultural Innovators The Young Cultural Innovators talk about their purposes and organizations in the video project.

Who are you and what are you passionate about? This was the questioned answered by the Young Cultural Innovators (YCIs) of the second annual Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators for a video series entitled ‘Faces of Leadership’.

The videos were produced as part of a workshop led by Jo Hunter, co-founder of 64 Million Artists and an associate at the New Citizenship Project. The goal of the workshop was to enable the YCIs to talk about themselves and their work in a compelling and dynamic way, and at the end of the session, the participants each made a three-minute video doing exactly that.

You can watch the videos of the YCIs who have chosen to make their video public in the playlist below and on YouTube.

Me-Ryong Choi is a museum instructor at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korea. She discussed her work educating the public and encouraging them to enjoy art. Choi expressed that appreciating and loving art must be an inclusive experience for all backgrounds by saying: “I really want to make sure that not just the privileged or those who know about art come to the museum so that those less privileged or have less opportunities to enter the art world can appreciate it. I would love to make sure this happens during my career.”

Nicolas García Mayor is an industrial engineer from Argentina and founder and director of ar estudio. Mayor talked about the refugee crisis currently facing us as a global nation. “There more than 85 million refugees around the world,” he said. “Half of these refugees are children. This crisis is due to political decisions, natural disasters and war. This is a big problem.” Mayor stressed the importance of pooling resources and innovation to help tackle humanitarian issues like the refugee crisis.

Josefina Bacigalupi Goni, director and founding member of DIBAGO from Argentina, used the story of a mother and her orphaned child to demonstrate the power of working together and sharing skills to create change. “I think that if we can work together as one anything can be done,” she says in her video.

Sam Galler is a Rhodes Scholar D.Phil student from the United States studying international development at Oxford University. He is building an online platform that informs political decisions and cooperation. It aims to help coordinate political decisions and inform them when they are making sub-optimal outcomes so that they can correct them and collaborate. “This online platform would be a way of building social trust and helping build a sense of community of those online but would otherwise disagree about several issues.” Galler said. “I think we have a lot of tools that still need to be developed to promote more social cultures.”

Rowan Pybus is a co-founder of Sunshine Cinema and Greenpop and a founder and director of Makhulu Media from South Africa. He talked about his work with Sunshine Cinema, a sustainable business model that turns solar energy into social impact. “We started with the idea that media that mattered wasn’t being seen where it was needed,” he said. “We decided to develop a business model that would enable us to share films in areas that were requesting content that could impact them in interesting ways.”

Sara Kim, founder of Diagonal Thoughts from Korea, talked about how her architectural office's mission is to create surroundings that can awaken a person to who they truly are and inspire them to achieve their goals. Her organization is specifically working on adaptive reuse which works with existing structures such as abandoned buildings which need to be adapted due to new city programs. “I think the human being is an environmental animal and everyone needs a space to grow and live,” Kim said.

Akio Hayashi, a founder of NPO InVisible from Japan, aims to reconnect and remake communities following natural disasters. He talked about the impact of the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami as well as his feelings of a general lack of community within Tokyo. NPO InVisible has used artists to create community engagement projects including an app to collate people’s feelings and emotional responses following the 3/11 disaster.

Paz Beguè, director of VERDEVER from Argentina, talked about her seizing an opportunity to be a producer for a company going to China’s Shanghai Arts festival. She realized from this that there was a need to produce Argentinian art abroad which inspired her to start her own project to promote art and wisdom. “The thing is to not only promote [art] as a product - which they are - but to also promote workshops and other things that have to do with the values of art, creativity and what’s behind it.” 

Ian Hilzerman is an entrepreneur and designer from Argentina and CEO at #MakePogo. He believes the world has a design problem. “We have unlimited needs but we have limited resources,” he said. To try and change this he has created a network that connects creatives with creators to stop ideas getting lost in the crowd and allow them to be worked on collaboratively.

Jiwon Park, a graphic designer, visual communicator, entrepreneur, social catalyst, and educator from Korea, talked about using design for social facilitation and cross-pollination. Her organization Design Can Do aims to inspire one another and promote social cross-pollination. Park said: “I want to make the use of my skills to facilitate positive design processes that can be applied to pressing social issues.”

Marcos Amadeo, a public affairs and creative industries developer from Argentina, who is helping to lead the Buenos Aires YCI hub, uses a story about him getting his first car to illustrate the importance of taking opportunities to expand your world view. He makes a point of when he traveled to Morocco where he was alone and had nothing to his name and the kindness of a family that took care of him. 

Sanne Donders is a freelance photographer from the Netherlands. She speaks about her interest in the personal stories of people in her city and people in the world. She talked about a family in her neighborhood who have ten children and three adopted children who work several jobs to provide for their children. Due to it being far too expensive for them to go out, they learned Zumba dancing from the internet and every Friday invite people to dance Zumba with them. Donders finished by saying: “I try to remind people that there is no group of people, they’re all individuals with individual stories.” 

David Fakunle is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA. He told a tale about a young child who receives gems that give him powers every year of his birthday and also a rock that grants him awareness. Through this he encouraged others to share their gems and using the power of storytelling to pass resources and share knowledge.

Christiana Damanaki is a content creator at Clio Muse in Greece. She talked about heritage having a meaning and its relevance today. It was something Damanaki was incredibly passionate about. “I truly, truly believe in my heart and brain that with culture and history we can become better humans,” she said. 

Kiron Neale is a Rhodes Scholar D.Phil. student from Trinidad and Tobago studying renewable energy at the University of Oxford. He used a conversation with himself with both Trinidadian dialect and Standard English to show his different forms of interaction in different regions. The conversation also involved his work on using cultural innovation to find sustainable energy solutions.

Siphiwe Ngwenya, director of the Maboneng Township Arts Experience and founding director of Arts Township International from South Africa talked about his project to bring art exhibits to the less privileged and non-elite by encouraging people to host art exhibits in their own homes.

Dafni Kalafati, an art therapist, documentary filmmaker, and founder of Amaka from Greece, used a form of therapy with the audience to bring a smile to the viewers’ faces. She did this to show the benefits of using art as a tool for self-expression. Kalafati showed her passion to spread happiness, saying: “I believe that everybody around the world has the right to joy and happiness.”

Kenneth Asporaat is a theater producer and founder of his own non-profit organization. He talked about investing in your own talent and pushing your creativity to the limit. Asporaat believes creativity is not exclusive to artists alone. “I believe there hides an artist in every one of us,” he said. “It is my force and my strength to see talent in people.”

Phina So, leader of Women Writers Cambodia, talked about empowering and connecting writers and readers through storytelling, writing, and dialogue. She encouraged everyone to spread their stories and messages of positive change with each other, and offered her writing skills as a way of facilitating this. 

Nicolàs Alvarado is a Mexican writer, cultural promoter, theater and television producer and presenter. He talked about a notebook he was given by his niece that features Jeff Koons’s inflatable lobster on the cover. He used this as a way of promoting the importance of fostering critical thought through the use of humor, wit, and the media.

Rachel Woodlee, a Rhodes Scholar D.Phil student from the United States studying social policy at Oxford University talked about her visit to a Tibetan family in a traditional Tibetan home. When asked if she wanted to hear some music she assumed some traditional Tibetan music but instead they played her a techno song on a modern sound system. The experience encouraged her to take a step back from our pre-conceptions and engage with other cultures on a personal level.

Akinobu Yoshikawa is a senior design fellow at MakBiz in Sendai, Japan. He talked about trying to make the world better with design and how the use of design and building can support recovery after disasters. He referenced how collaboration can create a better sense of ownership and pride within a community.

Sophie Bargmann, a curator, journalist, and conceptor from the Netherlands, talked about her purpose of wanting to "turn Artists into Rockstars." She talked about how boring she would find art galleries as a child and cared more about the gift shop; this directed her focus towards the branding of art. She stated the importance of this branding on a local artist level as well as the wider known artists.

Konstantinos Matsourdelis, founder and CEO of the Museum of Greek Gastronomy, encouraged people to think about where their food comes from and to look at the way different cultures use food and how their culinary arts have developed. “We research, we document and we present aspects of our culture through exhibitions,” he said. “Obviously we try a lot of great recipes as well!”

Immanuel Spoor is a founder of On Track Agency and Stichting De Nieuwe Lichting from the Netherlands talked about how he unwittingly became a music manager for a friend’s band and how it prompted him to create his own agency. He stated how vital it is utilize the talent of creative people and providing them with a platform and how he wishes to branch out from the Netherlands with this idea.

Rebecca Cordes Chan, a program officer at the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation from Baltimore, MD, USA, talked about holistic grant-making as a path to social equity with a short Haiku about the work she does that encourages people to be bold and take risks.

Sotirios Stampoulis is a member of the steering committee of the Cultural Innovators Network (CIN) from Greece. He wanted to give narratives to the packaging of basic food products to connect the consumer with the story of its production. In this way he hoped consumers to understand the process of their food production and to become better informed.

Lucy Wilhelm, a textile designer and trend predictor from Austria, talked about working together with clients to help realize a shared vision. She discussed her process of alleviating the confusion some of her clients face with bringing their products to the next level.

Rasheida Adrianus, founder of Girls 'N Cocktails in the Netherlands, used a poem to discuss why she founded her organization. The poem goes into detail about the disparity she and other women face when they feel unrepresented by the media and her attempts to try and create better representation and reflections of the self in the media

Meta Moeng, an arts manager in Cambodia, talked about how she believed art could bring people together. She talked about working with a Cambodian art network to help make connections between the art community and people in Cambodia that can inspire a younger generation.

Devin Allen, a self-taught photographer from Baltimore, MD, USA, talked about his experiences of becoming an activist through his photography. He talked about his own upbringing and his issues with racial barriers that informed his career trajectory and the work he does. He talked about the biggest issue he faced saying: “The biggest struggle is being an entrepreneur, being new and being black at that. It was hard to even get sponsorship and funding initially, I was turned down multiple times.”

Misaki Iwai, event and collaboration manager at Impact HUB Tokyo, talked about the importance of collaboration in the creation of great ideas. She talked about how these ideas don’t just come from one genius; they can come from all sorts of different backgrounds and experiences. She referenced how the HUB can be used to network and collaborate on ideas.

Thomas Layer-Wagner, co-founder of Polycular from Austria, talked about the game his company is making called "EcoGotchi” that aims to promote sustainable solutions for climate change. He hoped the game would help focus efforts of those who want to make a different but don’t know the best way to motivate change with sustainable choices.

The YCI Forum is held by Salzburg Global Seminar and was supported this year by The Edward T. Cone Foundation, the Fondation Adelman pour l’Education, the American Express Foundation, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Fulbright Greece, the Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, Elizabeth S. MacMillan Fellowship, the Mexican Business Council Fellowship Program, the Nippon Foundation, Red Bull Amaphiko, the Stichting De Verre Bergen, Adena and David Testa, the US Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia and the HDH Wills (1965) Charitable Trust. More information on the session can be found here: