Young Cultural Leaders Return to Critique New 10-Year Program Plan

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Oct 14, 2013
by Oscar Tollast
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Young Cultural Leaders Return to Critique New 10-Year Program Plan

Strategy session sees the return of several Salzburg Global Fellows Susanna Seidl-Fox (pictured - center) brainstorming with session participants

Several participants from the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum have returned to offer their help for a new Salzburg Global program.

They were joined by leading thinkers and practitioners for a strategy session entitled, ‘Promoting the Next Generation of Cultural Entrepreneurs: Planning for Success’.

In the past three days, participants have engaged in creative idea development and have been sharing experiences and lessons for the benefit of the program design.

Salzburg Global Seminar is committed to evolving the Young Cultural Leaders Forum into a global focal point for international exchange and innovation around, creative cultural entrepreneurship.

Last year’s Young Cultural Leaders Forum brought together 47 young cultural leaders from 37 countries around the globe for an intensive leadership development program.

Participants returning this year from the Forum included: Sebastian Chan, Lilli Geissendorfer, Patricia Garza, Jimena Lara Estrada, Niyati Mehta, Ayeh Naraghi, Leandro Olocco, Deniz Ova, Belisa Rodrigues, Beck Tench and Rüdiger Wassibauer.

The Young Cultural Leaders Forum co-chair, Russell Willis Taylor, and faculty member Fielding Grasty were also in attendance.

At the beginning of the session, Clare Shine, Vice President and Chief Program Officer at Salzburg Global Seminar, said creative thinking was organic to the work carried out by program staff.

“We really believe and have had many years of programming around the transformative potential of the arts to improve livelihoods and quality of life, to revitalize the way we educate and to leverage completely undreamt of business opportunities into the future decades.

“Entrepreneurs with this kind of skillset are an absolute force to be reckoned with and they will help politicians in their countries and mainstream businesses, just as much as they help civil society and community groups.”

During this year’s strategy session, participants have consulted together and acted as a focus group on needs assessment, designing impact, fine-tuning program components, establishing effective networks, and measuring success.

Global Views on Cultural Entrepreneurship

On Sunday evening, participants were further introduced to the topic of cultural entrepreneurship with alternative global perspectives.

Clare Shine moderated a fireside discussion on Global Views on Cultural Entrepreneurship, featuring contributions from Lyne Sneige Keyrouz, Belisa Rodrigues, Felipe Buitrago, and Lidia Varbanova.

Ms Sneige Keyrouz, a freelancer and consultant on Cultural Affairs in the Middle East, discussed how a greater use of technology had led to more innovative ideas in the Middle East.

She said that despite the social upheaval that had taken place in the region, the cultural sector had survived and was now thriving.

Mr Buitrago, consultant of the Division of Cultural Affairs, Solidarity and Creativity at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), said decision-makers at banks had to start paying attention to creative industries and consider what’s next.

He suggested the concept that they were beginning to move into a “knowledge economy”. Citing former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, he repeated his adage: “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”

He suggested a lack of opportunities were being given to those in the creative industries, and that infrastructure needed to have better access and communication.

Ms Rodrigues, General Manager of the African Arts Institute based in Cape Town, provided a working context of the creative industry in Africa and relevant success stories.

She also discussed her role managing the day-to-day operations of the Arterial Network, a network she described as spending 80 per cent of energy helping to build.

The Arterial Network is a pan-African association of artists, cultural activists, creative entrepreneurs and cultural policy experts represented in 40 African countries.

The body’s aims include empowering civil society arts and cultural organizations in African countries and regions, developing effective and sustainable networks, and improving the working and living conditions of artists.

Ms Varbanova’s presentation focused on Central and Eastern Europe. With over 20 years of professional experience, and a portfolio focused on strategy, entrepreneurship and organizational development, she suggested the region needed to rebrand itself through cultural entrepreneurship.

However, she went on to describe how the region – made up of 29 countries – was very broad and each country had its own issues to resolve with regards to the cultural sector.

These included a lack of mechanisms to support this sector through public policy and a lack of funding.

Speaking about cultural entrepreneurship in more detail, she encouraged artists to rid their fears of balance sheets and understand the business aspect of their careers.

Action plan

Participants spent much of Monday and Tuesday working within small groups. Discussions ranged from the strengths and weaknesses of the Young Cultural Leaders Forum to the greatest needs in the sector and what future participants should be exposed to.

Questions were raised as to how public policy could better support the cultural sector, and what entailed being a cultural entrepreneur.

The session came to an end on Tuesday afternoon after participants finalized a project plan, reviewed the main ideas generated during the planning meeting and mapped out the next steps for translating the project plan into action.

Susanna Seidl-Fox, Salzburg Global Seminar’s Program Director for Culture and the Arts, described the session as a useful exercise with a lot of notes to take away from.

"Having a cohort come from last year and having the prospect of a multi-year project going forward, I can really see a different and more powerful dynamic coming out of that which I just find really exciting.

"I hope we can harness all of the good energy [and] the good ideas that have come along."

Benjamin Glahn, European Development Director at Salzburg Global Seminar, said he was excited by the participants' contributions and ideas to follow up.

"We look forward to going back, looking at the program design, incorporating the ideas and concepts - and some of the cautions too - that you all had for us.

"It is a unique privilege to be able to convene a group like this together: the richness of experience and perspective of ideas that have come out are extraordinary."