Developing Models for Projects, Movements and Causes to Thrive

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Oct 16, 2017
by Oscar Tollast
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Developing Models for Projects, Movements and Causes to Thrive

Danish politician Uffe Elbæk reveals how he established a new political movement and cultural voice Uffe Elbæk speaking at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators

The question of whether to follow your head or heart is often a difficult one to answer. Of the options in front of you, one is usually safe, the other risky. When this situation arises in your career, it can feel as if the stakes become even higher.

When Uffe Elbæk stood down as Denmark’s minister of culture in 2012, he had faced a similar dilemma. Before his resignation, he received criticism for holding official gatherings at an organization he had previous ties to and where his husband worked at the time. 

Speaking at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, Elbæk said reports in the media felt like the “bad side” of House of Cards. His peers told him the period would pass, but Elbæk felt he had to make a decision. He said, “I’m happy to say I chose my love.”

Elbæk stood down from his position and the Danish Social Liberal Party, continuing in his seat as an independent. He was later cleared of any misconduct. While this was a difficult time, he made the decision that gave him the most positive energy. He said, “In the end, I asked my heart. My best guiding tool in my life has always been my heart.”

This decision would have a significant impact on Elbæk’s career. In the spring of 2013, while standing on a street corner with two of his advisors, Elbæk expressed his disappointment with Danish politics. It led to one advisor suggesting the formation of a new political party.

This led to a more detailed discussion about how this party should look and what it should be doing.

Elbæk and his colleagues followed a specific model to move from idea to realization: an idea needs purpose, values, a concept, theme, structure, and action. This process provided a way to turn the idea for a new way of politics into a reality.

The game plan, concept, and structure of the party would stand on a platform of six values: courage, humbleness, transparency, generosity, empathy, and humor. The three big challenges the movement aimed to face included the climate crisis, lack of empathy, and the systemic challenges.

In November 2013, Elbæk announced his new political party - The Alternative - to the world. Today, it has 10 MPs in the Danish Parliament and prides itself as a political movement and cultural voice.

Elbæk said the project design could be applied to small or large projects and encouraged the YCIs to reflect deeply on their own processes and values and to lead boldly from the edge.

To learn more about how The Alternative came to fruition, please click here.


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators VI 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, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session 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.

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