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Young Cultural Innovators

Moving from Me to We in the Upper Midwest: Creating “Deeply Human” Spaces Online
Moving from Me to We in the Upper Midwest: Creating “Deeply Human” Spaces Online
By: Louise Hallman 

Young Cultural Innovators from the American Midwest “meet up” despite lockdown as regional program moves online

As Minneapolis, where the first-ever regional program for the Upper Midwest Young Cultural Innovators (YCI) “hub” should have been held, entered its sixth week of lockdown, the YCIs of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography instead convened their regional meeting online.

Opening with responses to the question “What is currently bringing you joy?” the artists, creative community leaders and cultural changemakers of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators proved to be in good spirits as they joined the morning-long program  Moving from Me to We in the Upper Midwest despite the prolonged sense of physical isolation and disconnection.

What has changed?

For some of the Native American participants, that isolation and disconnection has been especially acute. They spoke of feeling disconnected from their family and community members who are isolated on reservations, many with poor internet connections, while they remain in lockdown in cities, unable to physically participate ceremonies such the powwows that celebrate the arrival of the spring and summer. 

The global pandemic has also served to highlight societal disparities. Minnesota already had the worst rate of removal of Black and Native children from families in the country before the pandemic. The pandemic is worsening these issues. From a lack of strong internet connections limiting who can participate in educational, cultural and social gatherings, to growing child protection issues as reporting decreases, Native populations have again been hit especially hard. As one YCI remarked, there is a real struggle to keep native people as part of the local, state and national conversations as stimulus packages are designed and cities and states start to look beyond their lockdowns. 

Not all cities and states in the Upper Midwest have implemented full lockdowns, but the vast majority have mandated some form of social distancing measures, heavily impacting the arts and culture sectors with events canceled, venues shuttered and even parks closed. Federal stimulus packages, however, are difficult for artists and “micro business” owners to access as they struggle to prove their losses of income.

In much of the region, the arts and culture sector heavily relies on revenue from the tourism industry, both from visitors attending events and purchasing crafts and from state tourism boards. With some lockdowns and social distancing measures continuing for many weeks and months to come and out-of-state tourists discouraged from travelling, the artists and the sector as a whole will continue to suffer from a lack of funding.

As a YCI from South Dakota remarked, the impact of the crisis has been somewhat delayed on the less-populous parts of the country, where there are fewer artists but also fewer organizations to support them. “The faucet of funding is about to trickle,” they feared. 

There was “a window of unpoliticized activity where people were coming together,” said one YCI, but “that is over,” they lamented. Across the region, responses to the pandemic have become incredibly politicized with public protests and threats to sue state governments. “How can we cut through the political noise and find empathy for small business owners?” asked one YCI. 

There is a huge amount of uncertainty for the region and its individual towns, reservations, cities, states and communities. “We don’t know how to plan for the future if we don’t know how what the impact will ultimately be,” said one YCI.

How are communities responding?

Like many sectors and activities, arts and culture have moved online in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Even powwows have “gone digital”, with families filming and sharing videos of them dancing, drumming and singing in dedicated “social distancing powwow” Facebook groups. Such groups highlight the importance of the arts, culture and “deeply human” connections, especially such trying times. 

Other socially distant artistic activities highlighted by the YCIs included “porch concerts” with musicians performing online and/or for their neighbors with signs displaying digital payment information like Venmo IDs to collect donations; weekly livestreams billed as “digital-first Fridays”; “makers’ markets” selling artists’ wares on Instagram; and YouTube video tours around local museums. With many people turning to arts and crafts as a way to help them deal with their individual isolation and the resulting mental health stresses during lockdown, artists are offering online classes and delivering “quarantine arts kits.” In the public policy space, there have been calls for artists to be engaged to help “bring joy” to public spaces, such as by redesigning signage or installing art works in public parks. 

Much of this is currently being offered for free – but artists still need financial support. One Twin City-based nonprofit has been offering pro bono consultation to arts and culture groups to help them find new, more sustainable forms of revenue. This has been a “heart wrenching” experience said one YCI, as many groups that are reliant on grants have seen their funding pulled to support more immediate COVID-19-related causes. “What if we can’t save everyone?” 

What is needed for the future?

The arts clearly have an important role to play in supporting people through and after the crisis, not only on a personal level to address self-care, mental health and trauma but also on community, city and state levels to address wider issues such as political divides and social inequity. 

To be able to do this, the arts need funding. However, philanthropy too has its limits, with the sector facing reductions in endowments due to stock market volatility and reduced staffing impacting the ability to address new applications. Many funders have responded with automatic renewals for existing recipients and a shift away from funding prizes, travel and professional development in favor of relief funds for grantees. As one participant in the YCI Upper Midwest Regional Meeting remarked, foundations “can’t wait until the next board meeting. We need to make decisions now if we want to save the arts sector.” Where can these new forms of revenue and financial support for the arts be found?

Much emphasis has been put on “innovation” and “digital connections” during the pandemic, but as one YCI remarked, “Innovation doesn’t have to be high-tech-based,” urging their fellow YCIs to consider how they can make use of “low-tech” such as radio and mail to connect with their audiences and communities.

The YCIs of the Upper Midwest have been tapping into and connecting with the wider, national and global YCI network and called on Salzburg Global to help them also connect more directly with the wider-still Salzburg Global Fellowship – truly “moving from me to we.” The growing reliance on online platforms and prevalence of online meetings from large-scale webinars to small “virtual coffee dates” is making these connections all the more possible across international borders and time zones. 

If digital convening is to remain the norm for some time to come, then everyone, especially creative, artistic people, need to work to “keep the humanity” during Zoom meetings. Opening up our homes, including our families and pets, and encouraging two-way discussions rather than one-way lectures were all encouraged – as were “virtual jamming sessions” for musicians. 

As one YCI remarked in closing and indeed as was reflected in the “what is currently bringing you joy?” in the opening introductions: “In isolation people are recognizing what they value, which is primarily culture and art and the togetherness those provide.” Even in the digital age, enjoying the arts and being “deeply human” remains key.  

This virtual regional meeting of the Upper Midwest YCI Hub was generously supported by The Bush Foundation and The McKnight Foundation

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Creating Digital Connections Across American Cities
Creating Digital Connections Across American Cities
By: Louise Hallman 

Young Cultural Innovators from across Baltimore, Detroit, Memphis and New Orleans “meet up” despite lockdown as regional program moves online

“Let’s arrive together!” declared Amina Dickerson as she opened the first-ever online Young Cultural Innovators (YCI) Regional Hub program and over 40 creative changemakers and community leaders from across four YCI city hubs across the US – Baltimore, Detroit, Memphis and New Orleans – all joined a Zoom call at the same time. 

While the duration and location of the program Creating Connections Across American Cities” might have not been as planned – for a few hours online instead of over a weekend at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Le Mondo arts venue and Waller Gallery in Baltimore, Md., USA – the same YCI energy could be found and connections were certainly strengthened, even in the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Calling in from their respective lockdowns, the Young Cultural Innovators, participants of the YCI Forum from the past six years, were encouraged by Dickerson, many-time YCI Forum facilitator to “Get comfortable, close your eyes, take deep breaths. Inhale the intentions for the day, and exhale all the stuff you want to get rid of.” With a land acknowledgement led by Ojibwe and Chicano rapper, Sacramento Knoxx, preferred pronouns declared and a visible joy at being brought back together, the inclusive space typical of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum was achieved – even on Zoom. This positivity was reflected by many in their “one word” given to start the day, with responses including “energy”, “cozy,” “grateful,” “calm,” “open,” and “happy.” 

But not all was positive. Many YCIs confessed to feeling “stuck,” “scattered,” “unfocused” and “unsure.” As large urban areas with sizeable populations of people of color, many of the communities that the Salzburg Global Young Cultural Innovators of Baltimore, Detroit, Memphis and New Orleans represent and serve have been hit especially hard by the virus. 

With communal and exhibition spaces shut down and events and community outreach cancelled due to social distancing measures, many of the YCIs are grappling with how best to serve their communities in these times of COVID-19. 

Some have been addressing immediate basic needs such as providing food and shelter for vulnerable groups, either through direct volunteering or by mobilizing other groups. Much of this mobilization and information sharing happens online (as with many things these days), but this raises further challenges of how to serve vulnerable portions of communities, such as the homeless and the elderly, who are not online. Some YCIs have been using “snail mail” and flyers in efforts to counter this problem.

Others are leading fundraising and promotional efforts to help other artists. “Fundraising is on everyone’s minds right now,” admitted a YCI from Detroit. While various grants and loans are being made available both from federal and municipal governments as well as foundations and private philanthropists, artists, musicians and other creative producers with irregular incomes particularly struggle to prove exact loss of income, making accessing such funds difficult. 

As much activity – including the arts, through such activities as online film festivals, arts-led discussions, and classes – moves online, there’s a fear that “digital redlining” is happening, with the exclusion common in cities in the physical space being replicated online, excluding marginalized people and communities even further from the arts. “Arts and culture is necessary to bridge communities; digital isn’t as inclusive as we think,” said a YCI from New Orleans. 

Many of the cities represented have already dealt with significant shared trauma, such as New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. With many people turning to the arts – either as a sector or individuals – to provide distraction and comfort amid the crisis, many artists feel a pressure to support their communities at a time when they themselves are struggling. “There’s a feeling of needing to overcompensate with online activity to stay relevant,” worried another New Orleans YCI. Addressing one’s own mental health through “radical acts of self-care and self-love” is much needed, suggested a YCI from Baltimore, to help ensure the arts can bounce-back post-COVID-19 and notburnout in the meantime. 

What Comes Next?

After sharing their respective cities’ struggles, thoughts turned to the future. Questions of how to reopen post-lockdown abound across sectors, and this is no different in the arts. Through breakout group conversations covering topics including the role of the arts in healing collective trauma, sustainable connections between the cultural sector and public policy, and rethinking business models for cultural initiatives, the YCIs considered the future for their respective organizations, work, and cities. 

Some concerns are immediate: “Will there be enough PPE (personal protective equipment) in order to reopen cultural spaces?” Others are more long-term: “How can we build back better?” Given the “squandered opportunities” post-9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, there was a shared desire among the YCIs to not miss this potential for a once-in-a-generation shift in how communities interact with each other and the arts. 

To build back better post-COVID-19, the arts sector needs capacity building, with some YCIs looking to how they can shift their grant-funded non-profit organizations to more self-sustaining social enterprises. 

A mind-shift on the value of the arts is also needed. Many artists, photographers and writers are “being asked to give and give and give” at the moment with little to no remuneration, unlike other disasters where they might receive hazard pay, lamented a YCI from Detroit. How can we collectively shift the mentalities of not only those who rely on and support the sector but also those within it to better value the work being done and the community service being rendered?

This was “No time for despair,” said Dickerson in closing. “It is going to be the creative spirits who will define what a new normal is going to be.”

Galvanized by their renewed connections across their cities, the YCIs committed themselves to making this program “a beginning, not an end” with proposals for future programming and regular monthly meetings. One upside of lockdown: the power of digital convening is clear.  

This virtual regional meeting of the YCI Hubs in Baltimore, Detroit, Memphis and New Orleans was generously supported by The Kresge Foundation

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Responding to Civic Priorities through Public Art
Art Fellows pose for a group photoArt Fellows pose for a group photo
Responding to Civic Priorities through Public Art
By: Soila Kenya 

Salzburg Global Fellows Alphonse Smith and Heidi Schmalbach help build artists’ capacity and address civic needs

In November 2019, ten artists in New Orleans, Louisiana, participated in a series of training sessions to create art installations at key intersections near drainage canals and pumping stations. The aim? To build awareness of how the city’s drainage infrastructure works.

Alphonse Smith and Heidi Schmalbach developed the training after receiving a micro-grant from Salzburg Global Seminar and the Kresge Foundation. Smith and Schmalbach, who attended the third and fourth programs of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators respectively, wanted to help local artists respond to civic priorities through public art interventions and creative place-making.

What came to fruition is the Civic Art Fellowship, a partnership between Arts Council New Orleans, of which Smith is executive director, and the Gentilly Resilience District. The District is an initiative led by the City of New Orleans’ Office of Resilience and Sustainability that aims to reduce flood risk, slow land subsidence, improve energy reliability, and encourage neighborhood revitalization.

Working in partnership with the District, Arts Council New Orleans is bringing an artistic flair to civic duty. Smith said, “The original concept was developed after meeting St. Paul artist and YCI fellow Amanda Lovelee in Salzburg, after which time a group of New Orleans YCIs visited Minneapolis to research best practice models.”

Heidi Schmalbach, a fellow YCI from New Orleans, was involved in the project as the former executive director and now an executive advisor to Arts Council New Orleans. She said, “There are a lot of people who already work for the city… in particular, the city of New Orleans, who are already creative professionals, artists, hobbyists when they’re not in their nine to five city job[s].

“And for various reasons, people feel like they have to hang up their creative hat when they walk in the door of city government. So we’re interested in the creative energies of people who are already in city government jobs and how to design with artists new ways to interface with [the public].”

Other partners involved with the Civic Art Fellowship include Crescent City Renaissance Alliance, the Water Leaders Institute, and Prospect New Orleans. The specialized training equips artists with technical knowledge related to critical civic issues facing New Orleans while providing peer-to-peer learning, mentorship, and social networking opportunities for the cohort.

The Civic Art Fellowship aims to produce public art along Gentilly’s water features to enhance the public’s understanding of living with water. While doing so, the Fellowship builds the artists’ capacity to address critical civic needs. Artists provide a sense of place through their work to advance future use and development of the location. They create lasting, innovative artwork that influences and shapes the development of the Gentilly Resilience District.

Despite the project’s projected gains, convincing government officials at the beginning of the process was far from easy. “There’s a key disconnect between the government and arts sector,” said Schmalbach. Smith added the critical issue is the two sectors don’t speak the same language. “I think we have a common language that we can speak, but that just hasn’t been defined yet,” he explained.

Smith said it was a matter of aligning agendas and ensuring each side felt their priorities were being addressed. Rather than merely commissioning beautiful artwork for the project, the Fellowship went a step further and also incorporated the artists’ training to benefit New Orleans’ creative scene. The city got what they wanted in artwork, but there was also a great benefit enjoyed by the participating artists.

Smith believes Arts Council New Orleans – and members of the YCI New Orleans Hub – can bridge divides between artists and government officials. He said, “It helps to give credibility and a little bit more weight to the idea that we’re not just these crazy arts non-profit administrators who are coming up with this idea that this is something that folks believe in. So to be awarded a micro-grant for that proposal says that the idea is valid. We’re hopeful that we can sort of build on that as we move forward with the program.”


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic, and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.    

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Salzburg Global Provides Community Support Awards for Young Cultural Innovators
Fellows come together for a group hug during last year's program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural InnovatorsFellows come together for a group hug during last year's program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Salzburg Global Provides Community Support Awards for Young Cultural Innovators
By: Salzburg Global Seminar 

Funds redistributed to support Salzburg Global Fellows in Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans in light of COVID-19 pandemic

Salzburg Global Seminar will support Young Cultural Innovators (YCI) who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In partnership with the Kresge Foundation, Salzburg Global will provide 12 awards up to $500 to members of the Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans Young Cultural Innovator Hubs.

Members from these Hubs were due to visit Baltimore, MD, this year for a regional meeting. Following a consultation, however, members suggested the funds be reallocated to support financially-hit Fellows.

Artists and cultural practitioners around the world have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the cancellation of scheduled projects, events, and opportunities.

Salzburg Global and the Kresge Foundation are delighted to accommodate the request from Fellows and provide assistance during these difficult times.


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic, and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.     

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Young Cultural Innovator Builds New Relationships in Detroit
Christopher Yepez received funding to organize several activities under his heartbeats:hood2hood project in 2017 and 2018Christopher Yepez received funding to organize several activities under his heartbeats:hood2hood project in 2017 and 2018
Young Cultural Innovator Builds New Relationships in Detroit
By: Oscar Tollast 

Christopher Yepez a.k.a. Sacramento Knoxx uses funding distributed by Salzburg Global to explore new methods of innovation and collaboration

A young cultural innovator based in Detroit, Michigan, has led a collaborative project designed to help improve the quality of life for future generations living in the city.

Christopher Yepez, a rapper, also known as Sacramento Knoxx, received support from Salzburg Global Seminar and The Kresge Foundation to organize several activities under his heartbeats:hood2hood project in 2017 and 2018. The project recognizes the powerful use of connection and technology to improve ecosystems.

Knoxx is a musician and filmmaker who helps direct the organization 'The Aadizookaan,' an indigenous-based multimedia arts collective. He received financial support after attending the third program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016. The project had several partners for different activities and events.

Three community concerts were held at high schools, reaching 120 students in the Detroit area. These concerts took place through a partnership with the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

Students were educated on race and housing in Detroit through music, performance, and the heartbeats curriculum. Knoxx said, "The partnership allowed us to combine Michigan Roundtable's mobile exhibit "We Don't Want Them," which focused on the history of race and housing in Detroit and how that impacts their current communities now, combined our literacy and cultural music work."

Knoxx and heartbeats also worked with We Found Hip Hop and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to program their curriculum and help host Dilla Youth Day. This day inspired 250 young learners from across the city to explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and math disciplines through participatory design with interactive beat making and sound design.

During the project, Knoxx has been able to build relationships with architecture and design teams helping to reshape the fabric and development in Detroit. He said, "It's very important as we contribute our cultural work and community organizing to ensure an equitable Detroit with design and culture. As we face a high portion of displacement and discrimination in a city with a robust history of [the] racialization of space and now the spatialization of race, building those critical relationships with architecture is very important in shifting the culture where humans can live healthy with not only each other but the earth as well."

Knoxx sees many ways for the project to give back to the community, including by contributing resources and tools to help with storytelling and growing talent for youth, adults, and elders. He said, "We have fostered relationships with media technologists, architects, educators, designers, and practitioners of health and wellness to launch our heartbeats initiative with multiple Detroit community partners and individuals that will continue to build [a] legacy through the support of Salzburg."

His participation in the YCI Forum enabled him to connect the dots and develop the project. Knoxx said, "Visiting and hopping over cultural barriers across the globe with the YCI Forum sparked the motivation to make new approaches of connection and relationships in Detroit, which sparked the idea of heartbeats, like how all of us share a heartbeat, that operates our body and is important for life."

Moving forward, Knoxx said heartbeats would have the chance to expand into a couple of community-owned spaces for arts, culture, education, health, and wellness. Plans are also in place to work with other music-based programs in school and community organizations. He said, "With this challenge of building space and developing land, it sharpens us to emerge new leaders and new relationships for building community and innovating the culture with youth, adults, and elders."

Since embarking on this project, Knoxx has seen young artists emerging onto the arts and culture scene in Detroit with their individual styles. "We're continuing to support our collective efforts within many capacities, ranging from intimate builds to large scale productions. I would like to work within a heartbeats capacity across native communities and reservations across North America, bringing music technology and well-being together to create change and beauty," he said.

"We're also engaging in many grassroots activities, so when there is support like this to help us execute and carry on the vision, it is truly amazing and appreciated," said Knoxx.


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in "Hub" communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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From One Generation to the Next: Documenting the Oral Tradition in Food
Yu Nakamura's fascination with "Grandma's Recipes" began five years ago in JapanYu Nakamura's fascination with "Grandma's Recipes" began five years ago in Japan
From One Generation to the Next: Documenting the Oral Tradition in Food
By: Carla Zahra 

Young Cultural Innovator Yu Nakamura brings Grandma's Recipes to Cajun community festival Cochon de Lait

Nothing smells quite as good as a grandmother's kitchen, and no one knows that better than foodie Yu Nakamura. As the co-founder of 40creations, Nakamura has been documenting oral traditions from grandmothers, a generation of women who provide a fresh perspective on cultures that have historically been dominated by male storytelling.

Throughout her journey, Nakamura has found the secret to cooking like our grandmothers lies not in the ingredients we use, but, instead, in the fragments of wisdom traditionally passed down from generation to generation.

Pieces of advice such as "The most important step in making this pumpkin jam is to stir the jam clockwise!" have frequently been passed on to Nakamura during her search for culinary wisdom. While this instruction would probably be left out of an ordinary cooking book, Nakamura believes these quirks are the "wisdom of living" that can only be inherited by cooking alongside our elders. As family structures change, then, inevitably, so will the direction in which jams are stirred.

"Families are often living apart, having fewer children than in the past, and moving towards the nuclear family type," says Nakamura. "The fact that we no longer live with our extended families means we are not taught to cook side-by-side with our grandmothers, so we lost the chance to pass on their recipes and tips."

Nakamura's fascination with "Grandma's Recipes" began five years ago in Japan. Since then, she has collected recipes from grandmothers all over the world, sharing documentaries on YouTube and publishing a book in Japan and Korea, never leaving out the little bits of wisdom she picks up along the way.  

After attending the third program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016, Nakamura found a network of likeminded creatives who encouraged her to continue pursuing her documentation of oral traditions. Among this group was Samuel Oliver, who she collaborated with in 2019 through a travel grant from Salzburg Global and the Kresge Foundation, traveling with her film crew from Japan to New Orleans to document Cajun food, culture, and history.  

During the trip, Nakamura attended the Cajun community festival, called "Cochon de Lait," which is organized by Oliver and his wife's family. Together with a local photographer who she met through Oliver, Nakamura interviewed different grandmothers at the festival, all in their 80s, who shared their traditional wisdom of Cajun and Creole cuisine.

"As soon as I heard the story of Samuel and his wife's family's festival, I really thought that this would be a great opportunity for an 'outsider,' as well as locals who don't live with a big family, to learn about the community's food customs and wisdom," says Nakamura.

Wherever Nakamura goes to learn about food culture, she is always pleasantly surprised by the similarities she finds in the different communities. "When I collect these recipes from grandmothers in different countries, it is strange to find that the similar things exist beyond the borders of the country," she explains. "For example, I always notice the grandmothers' ingenuity in feeding their families in the face of starvation, and their secrets to living happily even though they are poor."

Recounting the story of one Cajun grandmother who she met at Cochon de Lait, Nakamura says, "Mavis proudly told me that 'Cajuns don't waste anything.' She shared stories from her childhood with me, describing it as poor but truly, rich. Her parents were farmers, and Mavis had eight sisters, all raised growing cotton, sweet potatoes, corn, cows, horses, pigs, and dogs. Although they didn't have any money, they never went hungry as everything they ate was home-grown, and everything they wore was made by their mother from their own cotton.

"These situations are similar to what I discover in Japan, Thailand, and many countries in Europe too. They knew how to eat, how to live happily without money, and how to stay healthy. These stories teach us about the weaknesses of our own generation, which has not inherited this wisdom and has often overlooked it as trivial," she continues.

The most surprising trait that Nakamura uncovered during her time in New Orleans was the grandmother's love for drinking. "They have so much fun doing it while cooking!" says Nakamura. "But really, this trip has changed my perception of the Cajun community.

"Cajuns have large, close-knit families, and it seems like everyone loves to cook. At first, I thought it may be due to the influence of the Catholic religion, but I now realize the importance of their ingenuity and hard work to maintain those relationships. As Samuel's mother told me, there are three requirements to describe Cajuns: 'Who's your mom, are you Catholic, and can you make a roux from scratch?", says Nakamura.
 
It's all too easy to view Cajun culture through rose-colored glasses, Nakamura explains, especially when they open up their homes, slow-roast a pig from the early hours of the morning, and serve Cajun cuisine to more than 300 people while Cajun music fills the room.

"The truth is, Cajuns won't organize these festivals by themselves anymore as it's just too much work, so now it's up to the next generations to continue this tradition and add new colors to the mix," she says. "I realized that we need to continue to innovate our culture in order to pass it on to the next generation."


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic, and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in "hub" communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.     

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Strengthening Relationships Between South Africa and the United States
Siphiwe Ngwenya (second from right) and Palesa Ngwenya (far right) with fellow YCI Atianna Cordova (second from left) and Damon Batiste (center), president of New Orleans South Africa Connection (NOSACONN)Siphiwe Ngwenya (second from right) and Palesa Ngwenya (far right) with fellow YCI Atianna Cordova (second from left) and Damon Batiste (center), president of New Orleans South Africa Connection (NOSACONN)
Strengthening Relationships Between South Africa and the United States
By: Lucy Browett 

Salzburg Global Fellows from New Orleans, Detroit, and South Africa collaborate through Salzburg travel scholarship

A cultural exchange between YCI alumni has strengthened partnerships and had a positive impact on the Fellows’ respective communities.

Palesa Ngwenya and Siphiwe Ngwenya, who run the Maboneng Township Arts Experience (MTAE), and Atianna Cordova of Water Block in New Orleans, traveled to each other’s countries in 2018 to explore local arts projects and network with local artists.

Palesa and Atianna both attended the fourth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2017. Siphiwe, meanwhile, attended the inaugural program in 2014.

The exchange took place through a travel scholarship awarded by Salzburg Global and funded by The Kresge Foundation to enable YCI alumni to continue collaborating across borders.

The first leg of the trip, taken by Atianna, brought together 10 women from across the African Diaspora to come together and share their stories.

Palesa and Siphiwe then traveled to the US to fulfill their leg of the trip, where they strengthened tourism relationships between South Africa and New Orleans. They also saw Africa Umoja, a stage show bringing the spirit of South Africa to US audiences. In a joint statement, Palesa and Siphiwe said, “It was a delight to be in New Orleans watching US audiences get introduced to South Africa through the arts.”

They also visited Gentilly Fest while in New Orleans, a community festival started after Hurricane Katrina, designed to celebrate the rich culture of New Orleans

Palesa and Siphiwe included a trip to Detroit in their travels, to participate in the Bank Suey's Civic Arts Series organized by YCI Alissa Shelton. In a joint statement, they said, “Being able to participate in this Civic Arts Series meant that the MTAE team could meet, share with and learn from the nearby YCIs and resilient citizens of Detroit.”

They additionally spent time in Detroit with Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert who founded Power House Productions (PHP), an artist-run neighborhood-based nonprofit organization.

Palesa and Siphiwe said, “This series of gatherings explored creative practice as community building, along with the art of formal planning. We were part of creatives whose practice is used to shape neighborhood futures, employing unconventional and innovative strategies in their work.”

The Fellows’ experiences at their respective YCI programs has inspired collaboration. Siphiwe said, “Palesa and Atianna were in various working groups during their time in Salzburg, providing time to be inspired to create a similar platform to Salzburg Global Seminar.

“This has led to the decision to collaborate to compile a framework that can be used by future YCI of color engaging in high community impact travel experiences that develop young leaders.”

The MTAE turns homes in townships across South Africa into galleries, to promote local artists and encourage local people to invest in their art.

Speaking about the impact this travel scholarship has had on their organization, Palesa and Siphiwe said, “Upon our return to South Africa, our organization poured energy into launching our latest Cinema Home Attractions in Langa, Cape Town as well as Alexandra, Johannesburg with the aim of exposing local communities to South African films, sharing these cinematic creations in people’s homes.

“Our cultural exchange with young New Orleans and Detroit leaders imprinted the importance of consciously dreaming up a future we want as citizens and use emergent strategy to positively transform the South African communities within which we work.”


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in “Hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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Young Cultural Innovator Participates in Leadership Exchange in Cape Town
From left to right - Salzburg Global Fellows Palesa Ngwenya, Atianna Cordova, and Linda KaomaFrom left to right - Salzburg Global Fellows Palesa Ngwenya, Atianna Cordova, and Linda Kaoma
Young Cultural Innovator Participates in Leadership Exchange in Cape Town
By: Lucy Browett 

Salzburg Global Fellow Atianna Cordova reflects on 2018 trip to South Africa

Salzburg Global Fellow Atianna Cordova, founder of WATER BLOCK, embarked on a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, as part of a cultural leadership exchange.

The exchange took place in 2018 through a travel scholarship awarded by Salzburg Global Seminar and funded by The Kresge Foundation to enable YCI alumni to continue collaborating across borders.

Cordova, who attended the fourth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, collaborated with other YCI alumni, including Palesa Ngwenya and Siphiwe Ngwenya, who run the Maboneng Township Arts Experience (MTAE). Palesa and Siphiwe also took part in this leadership exchange through the travel scholarship, making a trip to New Orleans and Detroit to collaborate with YCI fellows.

During the trip, Cordova took part in a variety of activities to immerse herself in the culture of South Africa. She said, “This travel included small group discussions involving oral history exchanges with elder residents, tours by local community leaders, parades and street festivals to commemorate South African Heritage Month, historic site visits, skill-building sessions on communication and organizational development with local artists.”

Cordova’s experiences were moderated by organizations such as the Robben Island Museum, District Six Museum, and MTAE.

Additionally, Cordova met with 10 women from different parts of Africa for dinner at Timbuktu Café organized by YCIs Linda Kaoma and Palesa Ngwenya. She said, “The communal dinner was a moment for us, as black women creators, to affirm, connect and reflect on our experiences, while sharing best practices and ideas that promote social change.”

The fourth program of the YCI Forum provided Cordova with the initial concept behind the cultural leadership exchange. Cordova commented that the program reinforced the need for those that identify as part of the African Diaspora to intentionally gather outside of program hours to “share challenges and commonalities as art and design practitioners and black people.”

She added, “Our laughter and tears highlighted the need for even more opportunities to connect, collaborate and simply celebrate us.”

Cordova says her experiences in this exchange have benefitted not only her community back home, but also the communities she visited in Cape Town.

“By engaging in this inter-hub exchange, dialogues around cultural identity, self-preservation, post-disaster recovery, traumatic healing, and relationship building allowed us to further develop skills needed to use art and design as transformative tools in communities around the globe.”

“From the group discussions to the historic site visits, this trip broadened my communication and entrepreneurial skill sets, which increased my ability to address challenges in my own community in New Orleans. Although no words can truly describe the magic that happened during this travel, I'm excited about future opportunities to highlight the narratives of black innovators and continue creating access and justice for black people through our respective works.”


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in “Hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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Zoe Chun: Art Community - A Salon of This Generation
Zoe Chun: Art Community - A Salon of This Generation
By: Zoe Chun 

Salzburg Global Fellow Zoe Chun reflects on her experience at the sixth program of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum

This article was originally published in the Seoul Art Guide.

Last month, I attended the 6th YCI Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria. Leaders, artists, and activists from nonprofit cultural and arts organizations from 50 countries around the world spent a week together to discuss their visions and values for creation. In hindsight, I would say the purpose of this international seminar was not so much to network as to pursue a series of coalitions. Commenting on these expressions, a 'coalition' aims at building and promoting a community, whereas to 'network' implies some kind of exchange—that is, connection. Perhaps the biggest difference in nuance would be that the concept of 'coalition' abstractly implies an ultimate continuity. In what ways, then, could such community ultimately impact the present cultural and artistic world, especially in the exhibition area of contemporary art?

About 50 participants covered various topics including humanitarianism, gender, and human rights based on multinational languages, cultures, and religious backgrounds. Through lectures, discussions, and workshops, we shared approaches to 'sustainability' (which are discussed at major nonprofit organizations), creative social movements for the underprivileged and minorities, and other unique artistic perspectives about local communities from extremely personal stories and experiences.

This community of young cultural workers that formed during a short period of time reminded me of the salon culture that prevailed in the 18th century. In fact, Schloss Leopoldskron, which was where the seminar was held and has been one of the major sites of the Rococo style, was founded in the 18th century. Later, in the early 20th century, an innovative playwright and director named Max Reinhardt founded the Salzburg Festival with leading intellectuals and artists of the time, such as a romantic composer Richard Strauss and a lyrist poet Hugo von Hoffmanstall, and the place became a prominent local cultural attraction.

From the Victorian era since the Reform Act of 1832 to the Nazi regime era in the 1930s to the present, the historical periods of wounds, oppression, and recovery had left their legacies in this space that are now giving young cultural innovators new inspirations and a will to challenge the contemporary perspectives. Perhaps because of this, the participants did not constrain themselves in method and format of their presentations as they played their music, showed short films they directed, and read poems of various sentiments inspired during this period. Coexisting alongside the romantic and emotional elements mentioned earlier were physical dynamics such as live music performances, b-boy dances, and yoga. It is no exaggeration to say that this week-long salon as a loose but united relationship, a free but inclusive environment, gave us all a sense of camaraderie at the level of a mere friendship.

Sadly, the past glory of the salon culture has deteriorated and disappeared as it faced, unlike its origin, limitations in transcending political flows and classes. Whether the attempt and purpose were experimental or aesthetic, the root of the arduous pursuit for aesthetics and philosophy at that time was a 'dialogue.'

Rather than simply telling stories, it repeats a cycle of life interaction, comfort for emotional and spiritual solidarities, courage, recovery, and challenge.

Furthermore, the 'dialogue' is a kind of phenomenal history that forms a memory with the space that was born itself, and a present that anticipates its future influence.

In 1961, at the Theater of Odéon in Paris, when a sculptor Alberto Giacometti was working on a skinny tree, preparing a stage for Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot,' Giacometti later recalled:

“It was considered as a tree. or a tree and a moon.
We worked all night experimenting with the tree. making bigger. and then smaller.
or sometimes making the branches thinner.
And then we would say to each other. 'well..'
(Dialogue into the VoId: Beckett & Giacometti. Matti Megged, 1985)

In this short three-part series, I would like to take the contemporary art that has sunk into the established order beyond an institutional exhibition and question the concept of an exhibition from a historic, cultural point of view. I hope that in contemporary art the concept of exhibitions can be redefined into ones where it can break from the extant isolated systems and structures to cultivate a healthy and sustainable community, where it can break from the distinctions between experts and non-experts to foster a real coalition of emotions and sensibilities. At the same time, I lay my hopes on my colleagues and artists who are already striving in where a real attention and interest is needed—the field outside the established order. 

Zoe Chun / Independent Curator & Director of The Great Commission
Translated by Minji Chun, Edited by Eugene Park


The Salzburg Global Seminar Program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum annual program. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council KoreaArts Council Maltathe Bush FoundationCanada Council for the ArtsJapan Foundationthe Korea Foundationthe Kresge FoundationLloyd A. Fry Foundationthe McKnight Foundationthe Nippon FoundationSalama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan FoundationShalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

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Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform
Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform
By: Salzburg Global Seminar 

Latest report from the Young Cultural Innovators Forum now online to download, read and share

Many cities and regions around the world are facing radical environmental, social, political, and economic transformation, confronting challenges such as climate change, social injustice, the need for educational reform, and growing economic disparities. Addressing these challenges takes action at all levels and in collaboration across multiple different sectors.

Recognizing that some of the most imaginative solutions at the local and community levels are found in the arts and culture sector, where young cultural innovators are helping to drive change, Salzburg Global Seminar launched the Young Cultural Innovators Forum (YCI Forum) in 2014 to connect and empower a critical mass of talented change-makers across the world to shape a more creative, just and sustainable world.

In October 2019, 50 new members joined this growing global network of cultural changemakers and creative practitioners, by taking part in the sixth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators – Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform.

Supported by local partner organizations and individual philanthropists, the newest members of the YCI Forum came to Salzburg from 17 countries including Austria, Canada, India, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malta, Philippines, South Africa, the UK, and the USA, and represented diverse artistic disciplines from the visual and performing arts, literature, and cultural heritage, to foods, fashion, architecture, and design. As ever, all participants were aged between 25-35 with at least two years of professional experience in the arts or cultural sector and a demonstrable passion for creating social change within their community.

YCI Program Director Susanna Seidl-Fox said, “By connecting this next generation of creative changemakers, Salzburg Global aims to support and strengthen the evolving cultural ecosystem, catalyze cross-sectoral connections, and expand the possibilities for civic innovation and social improvement through the power and creativity of the arts worldwide.”

Continuity and Co-creation

For the first time, the Forum also saw a large number of existing members of the YCI network from previous years’ programs return as facilitators, who helped co-create the program along with the long-serving faculty and Salzburg Global staff. 

Faye Hobson, YCI Program Manager, said, “The goals of the program in Salzburg are to welcome the new YCIs into the YCI Forum network, connect them with each other, and provide opportunities for them to reflect on their own practice, as well as on their role in their community, in their city or region, and as part of the YCI network worldwide. This year the YCI Forum is being co-created by Salzburg Global, the YCI facilitation team, and members of the YCI Forum network. We believe that co-creation taps into the collective insight and potential of groups, and is especially effective when bringing together YCIs from around the world who are facing common challenges in their work to generate breakthrough solutions that shape a better world.”

The annual week-long residential program at Schloss Leopoldskron, home of Salzburg Global Seminar, is designed to help participants develop the dynamic vision, practical skills, and global networks they need to bridge divides, expand collaboration, and transform systems at the local, regional, and global levels. The program combines theory and praxis, with capacity building sessions focusing on communicating value, principles of self-organization, cross-sectoral collaboration, and leadership and values. This 2019 program was also aligned with several Sustainable Development Goals. Participants examined how people within the arts and cultural sector can create sustainable cities and communities as well as positive innovation for the future.

Now entering its seventh year, the YCI Forum is growing and nurturing a dynamic international network that catalyzes an expanding range of local and cross-border collaborations. The Forum represents a major, ten-year commitment by Salzburg Global Seminar to fostering creative innovation and social entrepreneurship for more inclusive and sustainable development. 

This new report does give an overview of each of the programmatic elements in Salzburg, but the majority of the report includes interviews with and accounts directly from YCI Fellows about why they value the program. An account of the ongoing “Contested Histories” project, sparked by a protest at the 2018 YCI Forum, is also included.

Download the report as a PDF

The 2019 program of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum was held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Sheika Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.  
 

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Finding Common Ground through Cultural Innovation
Members of YCI Canada Hub gather in Haida Gwaii
Finding Common Ground through Cultural Innovation
By: Carla Zahra 

YCI Canada fellows explore their commonalities and differences during a Haida Gwaii research-residency

When one Young Cultural Innovator invited fellow delegates to gather on his home territory in Haida Gwaii, an archipelago of 150 islands off British Columbia’s West Coast in Canada, it opened up a new dimension of fostering relationships for cultural collaboration. Supported by Salzburg Global Seminar and the Canada Council for the Arts, the visit enabled members of the YCI Canada Hub to explore their shared and diverse experiences, focusing on understanding and supporting Indigenous sovereignty in their works as individuals and as a group. 

The research-residency took place between September 22 and September 28, 2019, in Skidegate, a Haida community in Haida Gwaii. The seven participants were all delegates from the Canada Hub of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI). These participants included Patrick Shannon (Nang K’uulas), Nikki Shaffeeullah, and J.S. Ryu, who took part in the 2017 program of the YCI Forum, and Alyssa Fearon, Brian McBay, Lindsey Mae Willie and Jenna Winter from the 2018 program of the YCI Forum. 

Through a series of in-depth conversations, the participants found common ground discussing the history of colonialism and their shared experience of anti-colonial work within the cultural sector. Together, they explored topics such as colonization, Indigenous sovereignty, and land title. Apart from seeking ways of supporting equal pay policies for arts workers in Canada, members of this YCI Hub also spoke about how each of their organizations could thrive in a complex environment by advocating for better policies that would serve historically underrepresented communities. This inspired fruitful conversations about what work can be achieved through collaboration as a Hub. 

Upon arriving in Skidegate, Patrick Shannon gave an overview of Haida Gwaii’s recent history, including its colonization and subsequent work towards decolonization. The role of the Haida Nation as a leading example in Indigenous self-governance, settler-Indigenous relationships, language preservation and repatriation of “objects” became evident to those that were not previously aware of it. On their second day, Lindsey Mae Willie presented a summary of the impacts of the imposition of the Indian Act on First Nations in Canada, in particular to her own people, the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw. 

“We also learned that the immense geography in Canada can oversimplify the relationships between regions at times, thereby complicating our work as a national ‘Hub.’ Though we all live in ‘Canada’, we each represent very different regions and communities, from isolated landscapes to large urban centers and from isolated islands to spaces of extractive global capital,” reports the group, in their collaborative summary of the project. 

Through the research-residency program, the YCI delegates also collaborated with individuals and organizations based in Haida Gwaii, including the Haida Heritage Centre, the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP), students in Haida Gwaii, the Haida Youth Assembly, the Gidgalang Kuuyas Naay Secondary School and individuals who helped organize the film screening of “Yah’Guudang / Respect for All Living Beings” in Masset. 

The YCI Canada Hub is currently exploring several possible projects that stemmed from their meeting in Haida Gwaii and are planning their next meeting in 2020. 


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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Cultivating History, Documenting Dreams
Jose Cotto at Salzburg Global Seminar
Cultivating History, Documenting Dreams
By: Oscar Tollast 

Photographer and designer Jose Cotto reflects on his return to Salzburg Global Seminar and helping YCI Fellows reach their destinations

Jose Cotto is neither here nor there, neither present nor missing. “I’m back, but I’m not back,” he says while reflecting on his participation at the sixth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI).

Cotto, who attended the fifth program in 2018, has returned to Salzburg Global Seminar as a facilitator. His attendance was made possible thanks to the Kresge Foundation. During the program, the New Orleans-based photographer and designer has been capturing candid images and one-on-one portraits with participants. 

“I’ve been trying to find moments – or letting moments find me – where Fellows are sitting with something,” Cotto says. “Where you can tell that something is just resonating just by the body language, the expression, the sort of feeling, and the energy in the room and space.”

Remaining visible while invisible isn’t an unusual skill for Cotto. It’s his mantra. With his photography and design practice, josecottoCREATIVE, Cotto has often explored the relationships between people, place, and time. 

While taking one-on-one portraits, Cotto has asked the newest YCI Fellows to meditate on their time in Salzburg before photographing the moment they transition from “there to here.” 

Cotto believes within all of us lie GPS coordinates for the destination we’re trying to reach. Some of us get off-track, but we don’t lose sight of what that end goal looks like. Cotto suggests the portraits should serve as a compass to help YCI Fellows reach their dreams. 

“The hope is that they’ll have this portrait as a reminder of the place that they went to so that they can revisit it whenever they feel like they’re… losing their course or straying in the wrong direction.”

While growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts, art was a means to escape, forget, and remember for Cotto. Reflecting on his journey this past year, Cotto reveals he has purposefully slowed down. He says, “I’ve still been making work, but it’s been at a very different rate. It’s been a lot more intentional.” 

He’s found time to teach university students and review his archive of work, which dates back more than 10 years and features more than 100,000 photos. Since starting a new job at the Small Center, a community design center at Tulane’s School of Architecture, Cotto has also found time to focus on his architectural and design work. 

“Consistently, throughout it all, it’s been a desire and understanding that slowing down at this point in my life is sort of where I’m at, and the experiences that I’ve been having… really trying to absorb those things as much as possible to try to extrapolate the sort of lessons and the findings that ultimately, I believe, will reveal sort of a… clearer blueprint, if you will, of what it is that I’m actually building and creating.” 

For Cotto, Schloss Leopoldskron is a place tied up with “beautiful moments and conversations.” He’s aware of how significant the experience was for him in 2018 and how much of that came from the shared space built among the Fellows. It’s affected how he’s interacted with Fellows at the 2019 program. 

He says, “I know how lively and enriching these conversations are, and I want to be part of them because those are the things that I love, right? But I’m also mindful that this is an important space for the Fellows to have.”

Memories ignite as Cotto walks through Schloss Leopoldskron’s grounds and corridors. “It feels like I belong in this space... This is a space that I will revisit again throughout my lifetime,” Cotto says. “So, in a lot of ways, it feels like home...”

In January 2020, Cotto’s photos were chosen to feature in a new exhibition housed in Schloss Leopoldskron’s Meierhof Café. His photos appear alongside fellow YCI Yasmine Omari, who also attended the sixth program of the YCI Forum. 


The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators Forum multi-year series. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.
 

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Fostering Creative Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Returning YCI Fellows provide information on life "after the Schloss"Returning YCI Fellows provide information on life "after the Schloss"
Fostering Creative Innovation and Entrepreneurship
By: Mira Merchant 

Fellows discuss events and notable changes in their life since attending the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators continues to build a network of Fellows in city and regional hubs all around the world. We spoke to seven YCI Fellows to learn about how their lives have changed personally and professionally since they first arrived in Salzburg.

“Since I’ve been here last year, I’ve still stayed in my same role. But I would say one of the things that really changed my perspective since being here last year is just being more deliberate about the things that I want to achieve and the connections that I want to make. I've taken out some things that aren't making an impact to the work that I want to do or [be] the mom that I want to be.”

Amber Henderson,South Dakota, USA

Assistant professor of marketing, Northern State University

"My time here encouraged me to be more thoughtful about what I want. We often get caught up in the work that we do that involves others. One of my core values is service, and in the organization that we run, I serve as the development coordinator, sorting out fundraising and proposals. And for me, that is a work of service. It involves one of my favorite things, which is writing. But I also had another job at the time writing professionally; I was doing two things. So my time here encouraged me to tap back into writing for myself.”

Palesa Ngwenya,Johannesburg, South Africa

Development coordinator, Maboeng Township Arts Experience, and author of Boldly Bloom, Sis'

"I think the most the most important thing that I've done is slow down. I left the program last year, like everybody else, very excited and anxious to dive back into work. Obviously, you spend the week here with a lot of brilliant minds, and the gears start turning very fast. I left with this excitement on a very, very high note and had to go back to a very different environment, which in a lot of ways was really a blessing because it forced me to slow down. I started a new job at a community design center in New Orleans. I've been able to sort of get back to my architectural practice and my design practice a little bit as well. I also teach a course at the university. [YCI helped] me to reflect a lot more and set sail with my thoughts and explore them as much as I can."

Jose Cotto, New Orleans, USA

Photographer and designer at josecottoCREATIVE

"My intent back then [in 2018] was to really elevate artistic practice into more engaging cultural work in the Philippines… and to create probably not just an influence, but to activate people more and activate spaces back in my country… So I think I was able to… elevate that into a wider scale. I’ve been working around in the entire country now, not just in Manila and [I have] also been building a lot of relationships with my fellow people. YCI helped me realize why relationships are more important than ever."

Ralph Eya,Manila, Philippines

Independent Art Practitioner

"In the months that followed this program, I jumped into several new endeavors. I went from a highly local practice to a national practice, which has been amazing but at times, a steep learning curve. I have found myself using and building on the things that I learned and absorbed while at [the YCI Forum], and, now being back for a second time, also reflecting on being in this highly collaborative and creative space, the values that are embodied by the YCI cohort, and the opportunity it affords to think about and frame the impact we each want to make in the world."

Rebecca Chan, Baltimore, USA

Program officer at LISC National Creative Placemaking and Economic Development Program

"I met new people from my own country who were committed to very interesting and powerful causes. We got together after coming here, and we created a project together where we work with migrant communities. Most of [the other Fellows] brought in their amazing skills in filmmaking, photography, workshops, and art to combat gender stereotypes, and we work with migrant kids in Buenos Aires. We are all former YCI Fellows... I'm very happy about this project."

Luciana Chait,Buenos Aires, Argentina

Owner of Dijon – Media and Learning Experience

"Since leaving YCI, the one thing that probably got most of my energy was becoming a parent. One might wonder if it really influences anything professionally because it's private life, but I realized the moment I had this change that I became more sensitive towards certain issues. So all of a sudden, environmental and education and corruption and social issues, they became urgent and a high priority [for me], whereas when I was here the last time, I saw them as more distant."

Kleidi Eski,Tirana, Albania

Founder and creative director of Light and Moving


The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators Forum multi-year series. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

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Making the World Better and Beautiful Through Collaboration
Jaimie (Joo Im) MoonJaimie (Joo Im) Moon
Making the World Better and Beautiful Through Collaboration
By: Oscar Tollast 

Salzburg Global Fellow Jaimie (Joo Im) Moon discusses the impact of attending the YCI Forum and arts and culture in the Republic of Korea

For Jaimie (Joo Im) Moon, her experience in Salzburg was “inspiring” for many reasons – none more so than her realizing “how so many great and creative people are out there making our world better and beautiful…” Her participation in the Young Cultural Innovators Forum (YCI) also helped her make connections that would have otherwise been difficult to make.

“It was also very meaningful for me to get to talk with global fellows from the regions that are comparatively rare to meet in East Asia, such as those from Eastern Europe and South America. The thoughtfully curated programs of YCI led us to become friends and to exchange thoughts and experiences in fun and mindful way[s].”

Moon, from the Republic of Korea, arrived in Salzburg in October 2016 as a senior researcher and cultural designer for the Bureau of Strategic Planning of the World Culture Open, a non-profit organization that promotes cultural diversity and unprejudiced cultural exchange around the globe. Now, she is the executive director of the Bureau that stands in its place: The Bureau of Research & Plan. Moon has since grown more confident about her life goal.

She said, “I think I was able to be clearer about my goal through YCI and recent years of work because I feel that there are more allies, the comrades, and friends to learn from and to exchange knowledge and experiences with for the common goal. Such [a] feeling of solidarity brings up confidence and willpower in me.”

Better Together

At World Culture Open, Moon is working on the organization’s Better Together Initiative, which tries to bring together social entrepreneurs from around the world who are working for the greater good. Moon said, “World Culture Open shares a very similar goal of what Salzburg Global Seminar has been achieving over 70 years - convening creative minds across sectors, fostering networks and partnership for social change, [and] connecting local innovators across the globe.”

One of the two pillars of this initiative is the Better Together Festival (Challenge), an annual three-day global gathering of change-makers where participants can share stories of their projects and win prizes through a contest-format program. They can also exchange knowledge, attend talks and concerts, have in-depth group discussions on social issues, and discuss potential partnerships.

Last year’s festival was held in Pyeongchang and featured hundreds of practitioners from around the world, including several YCI Fellows. Susanna Seidl-Fox, a program director at Salzburg Global responsible for culture and the arts, was also in attendance. Moon said, “Along with the Challenge, we were happy to be able to invite some YCI Fellows as advisory members to the Better Together initiative this year. Advisory members… are those recognized as proactive agents of change in their own communities who actively engage in shaping and implementing Better Together initiative with a collaborative network of practitioners and change-makers.”

Collaborative Partnerships

Moon said she had benefited personally and professionally from knowing Seidl-Fox. “She has been a great mentor for me in the aspect of leadership, management, and communication… I believe such professionalism that Susi shows throughout the process of work is also a very important learning element for young cultural innovators.”

The YCI Forum is building a global network of 500 change-makers in hub communities to design collaborative projects, build skills, provide mentorship, and connector innovators in different cities and countries. Moon has collaborated with Salzburg Global Fellows, including Phloen Prim, Siphiwe Mbinda, Rebecca Chan, Yu Nakamura, Sebastian Chuffer, Chunnoon Song-e Song, and more. Moon said, “The YCI network, a pool of hundreds of creative minds is an incredible source of greater-good practitioners [whom] I can invite, connect [with] and introduce [to] the field of work that I am involved in.

“For the projects that I curated in Korea, I could invite YCI Fellows as global speakers, facilitators and expert/advisory members, or connect the Fellows to other cultural projects and collaborative opportunities in Korea.”

Arts and Culture in the Republic of Korea

In the Republic of Korea, Moon said there are a “good amount” of grants and government-backed cultural foundations that support the arts. World Culture Open, for example, works closely with the public sector at various levels. Moon said, “We partner with the Presidential Committee for the National Balanced Development for a project to find and support the cultural innovators in local areas… They are the core element in terms of [the] sustainable development of the region. Such collaborative effort[s] [are] important, especially when the disparity between cosmopolitan urban [cities] like Seoul and the other regions is generating many social problems.

“The Better Together Global Festival has [also] been hosted and funded by the city-level regional governments each year. And we often get invited by the government bureaus for consultancy to various arts and culture-related matters in the regions.”

Despite this financial support, Moon believes the arts and culture sector in Korea is still considered a secondary subject when compared with technology, the economy, or politics. “We need to acknowledge cultural innovators – those who practice and promote arts and culture – are also the social innovators. Cultural innovators approach social issue[s] with [flexibility] and creative perspective[s] and find breakthroughs from unconventional approaches. Arts and culture brings advancement to technology, [the] economy, and even politics with creativity.”

If Moon could change one thing about the arts and culture sector in her country, it would be the arts education system. She believes arts and culture need to be taught as a natural means of expression and creativity. “Arts and culture should be appreciated and valued more importantly in terms of class time and resource allocation at schools, and it should be applied cross-sectoral throughout various subjects. Teachers need more learning resources and practical training. It is never enough. Governments and corporations need to invest more in arts education.”


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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Confronting Resistance and Change Through Poetry
A front view of the zine Sanja Grozdanic created with contributions from Detriot writers on the theme "My Last Day on Earth."A front view of the zine Sanja Grozdanic created with contributions from Detriot writers on the theme "My Last Day on Earth."
Confronting Resistance and Change Through Poetry
By: Soila Kenya 

Salzburg Global Fellow Sanja Grozdanic engages with Detroit creative scene through travel scholarship

Would your last day on earth be ecstasy or grief? Sanja Grozdanic, a writer and editor from Adelaide, Australia, traveled to Detroit in the United States to explore the theme “My Last Day on Earth.”

Through a scholarship from the Kresge Foundation, she met up with Maia Asshaq, both of whom attended the third program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016.

Together, they organized a reading and poetry night on December 10, 2019, at the Room Project to provoke thoughts about the current socio-political anxieties in the world. “It encouraged writers to think about resistance as a daily practice – what we might take into the new decade, and what we must leave behind,” said Grozdanic.

During the evening, Detroit writers Scott Northrup and Cy Tulip performed original new works in response to the theme, along with performances from Grozdanic and Asshaq. Attendees were also invited to present their own contributions.

“It was a great turn out, ending with a beautiful durational performance by Cy Tulip,” said Grozdanic.

She added, “The Detroit artistic community was welcoming, open and receptive to the evening and theme.”

A zine that included several other responses on the theme was published by Grozdanic and made available for free during the event. On this accomplishment, she said, “I took the project much wider than I had originally planned, as I was very happy with the theme we chose. I am glad that a piece of the evening will continue to live on in this way.”

In the days following the event, the two Salzburg Global Fellows spent time exploring the creative scene in Detroit. “We went to a reading and screening at the Arab American Museum, where Maia also performed, to galleries, bookshops, and met with Leslie Perlman, who was one of the founders of the legendary Detroit Printing Co-op,” said Grozdanic.

Grozdanic is the co-founder of KRASS Journal, an independent arts and culture publication based in Adelaide but distributed internationally.

Based on the success of the event, she looks forward to bringing similar events to other cities. “When I return to my YCI Hub of Adelaide, I would be thrilled to host a poetry night on the same theme, with the zines available as well.”

She added, “I hope Maia and myself will continue to collaborate on projects large and small. I am aiming to re-print the publication I created for the event, for posterity, and because the work was of such a stellar standard.”

For Grozdanic, her participation in the YCI Travel Scheme provided the opportunity to connect with the Detroit creative community. “I was humbled and inspired by the ingenuity and experimentation I witnessed in Detroit. I have been reflecting on this since my return to Berlin.”


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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From Asia to Austria and Back Again: Building Creative Networks Across the Globe
This mural is part of the Smile at a Common project in Manila, the Philippines, led by YCI Fellows Ralph Eya and Katharina KapsamerThis mural is part of the Smile at a Common project in Manila, the Philippines, led by YCI Fellows Ralph Eya and Katharina Kapsamer
From Asia to Austria and Back Again: Building Creative Networks Across the Globe
By: Oscar Tollast 

YCI Fellows from East and South Asia reflect on the impact of their experiences in Salzburg

Since 2014, the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators(YCI) has sought to provide a space for change-makers around the world to hone their talents and help them drive social, economic and urban change in their communities. As part of this process, participants have been able to learn new skills and gain a better understanding of they are and who they want to be. As the YCIs continue to grow, personally and professionally, they look to expand their horizons and their networks.

The YCI Forum now has a global network of 300 Fellows, all of whom are either designing collaborative projects, building skills, gaining mentors, or bringing people together in their respective regions to advance change. The YCI network spans the globe, with 21 “hub” cities and regions in 40 countries across six continents. Growth of the network in East and South Asia is especially strong. More than 60 creative change-makers from Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, and Vietnam have all convened in Salzburg.

Throughout the series’ history, YCI Fellows have a tendency to try and find answers in the most innovative way. It’s a view shared by Chunnoon Song-e Song, who attended the YCI Forum in 2014. Song, from the Republic of Korea, said, “When I joined Salzburg Global Seminar, it was really an eye-opener for me because it was when I was starting to think whether culture is an essential thing in your life.”

At the time she was responsible for the Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces, an Asia-Europe Museum Network project encouraging cooperation between museums in both continents. When she returned home from Salzburg, she thought, “What’s the point of showing the objects that people can not actually see?” She therefore decided on a dramatic career change and took on a job with UNESCO to work in Afghanistan. She wanted an answer to the question: does cultural heritage matter in a country which is experiencing conflict?

Speaking three and a half years later while at another Salzburg Global program, this time specifically on cultural heritage, she said she found an answer. “Culture actually matters to people – really matters to people… Often some donors, who are not residing in Afghanistan, they would ask, do you really think that culture matters in Afghanistan when children die [from] starving and etc.? I tell them you should have an interview with the Afghan people. They feel depressed without culture.”

Another YCI whose experience in Austria opened her eyes to new possibilities was Phina So, from Cambodia. She attended the second program of the YCI Forum in 2015. As well as then being a researcher at the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, she was the leader of Women Writers Cambodia. She wanted to empower and connect writers and leaders through literature.

So said, “It was a great experience to meet and learn from many inspiring cultural leaders from around the world… I felt so overwhelmed that I wanted to quit my full-time job as a researcher and wanted to move [into] the arts completely.” And that’s exactly what she did.

Now working for the non-profit organization Cambodian Living Arts as a knowledge, networks, and policy program manager, So has more time to focus on arts and culture. She said, “Moving into a field, especially [the] arts, is a big decision. I would imagine I would not dare to make such a decision. However, after the trip [to Salzburg], I [felt] more confident to make the decision and dare[d] to dream bigger.”

In her role, So is involved with work on cultural leadership fellowships, mobility grants, and organising cultural exchanges with other professionals in the region. The Mekong Cultural Hub, an associated initiative which grew out of the YCI Forum, provides opportunities for creative cultural practitioners in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Thailand. For So, it is the “focal point” of contact whenever cultural exchanges are organized.

“Through these cultural exchanges, we grow the networks of arts and cultural professionals from the Mekong. Now the Mekong Cultural Hub has become a sister organization,” So said.

The importance of building connections through shared experiences cannot be taken for granted. Yu Nakamura, from Japan, attended the third program of the YCI Forum in 2016. Nakamura said her biggest benefit from the experience is the connections she has been able to make and maintain. She said, “I know if there is [a] new cultural project that I want to make, I know there is someone I might be able to talk [to] or ask.” Nakamura has already worked with several YCI Fellows, including Joo Im Moon from the Republic of Korea, and is now planning a new collaboration with YCI Fellows from New Orleans.

Arriving in Salzburg in 2016, Nakamura introduced herself as someone who “tries to preserve traditional recipes from octogenarians.” Three years later, she can safely say she’s succeeded. Since leaving Salzburg, Nakamura has published a book called Grandma’s Happy Recipes Storybook. She’s also produced a 10-part YouTube series featuring some of the grandmas she spoke to. The first video in the series has more than 4.8 million views. “I became [the] person [where] I can just move forward without listening [to] too much of [the] noise that tries to stop you from challenging,” said Nakamura.

Now based in Bangkok, Thailand, Nakamura has a new mission and a new business: Taste Hunters. Along with her husband and a friend, she imports natural wine and craft sake, working with family-run, environmentally friendly producers. Nakamura said, “We are working to create a world in which various flavors can always exist on an appropriate scale rather than being dominated by monoculturization.”

As well as wine and sake, Nakamura has also developed a coconut flower sugar brand called Coconuts Nakamura – almost famous. While it may not be “world-famous” yet, her work in this field has still managed to attract the attention of the Japan Times, Japan’s largest and oldest English-language newspaper.

Another YCI Fellow based in Southeast Asia making headlines in 2019 is independent art practitioner and cultural worker Ralph Eya. In July 2019, Eya appeared in the Manila Times after collaborating with Salzburg YCI Katharina Kapsamer for a public wall mural as part of the Smile at a Common project.

Eya and Kapsamer both met while attending the fifth program of the YCI Forum. Their project was a “creative fusion” of Kapsamer’s urban adventure project “Smile At A Fire Hydrant” and Eya’s new genre public art initiative “We Are Common.” Smile at a Common attempts to influence people’s perception of themselves and inspire attitude change by forcing people to confront their sense of identity and togetherness.

Building off this success, Eya returned to Salzburg a few months later to be a facilitator for the sixth program of the YCI Forum - a scary, exciting, nerve-wracking, and amusing experience. Eya said, “I cannot define it in a very particular way or… a black and white way – probably a rainbow, probably a spectrum of colors of emotions. That’s how it feels.”

A year or so had passed since Eya’s first visit to Salzburg, which provided time for the practitioner to reflect. Eya said, “My intent back then was to really elevate artistic practice into more engaging cultural work in the Philippines… and to create probably not just an influence, but to activate people more and activate spaces back in my country… So I think I was able to… elevate that into a wider scale. I’ve been working around in the entire country now, not just in Manila and [I have] also been building a lot of relationships with my fellow people.”

The YCI Forum is about to enter its seventh year and will continue to support the growing network of cultural change-makers, in Asia and around the world. As famed anthropologist – and founding Salzburg Global faculty co-chair – Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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Julién Godman: Detroit to Salzburg - Travel to Find Our Light Departing
Julién GodmanPhoto by Herman Siedl
Julién Godman: Detroit to Salzburg - Travel to Find Our Light Departing
By: Julién Godman 

Salzburg Global Fellow reflects on his experience at the sixth program of the YCI Forum

Julién Godman is a Salzburg Global Fellow. He recently attended the sixth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. This blog was originally published on The Metropolitan.

A seemingly at peace woman told me in 2010 that my necklace was charged. This was a passing thought today, here above the Atlantic, on my way to a palace in Salzburg, Austria.

I do like the idea of being charged. Feel it now. I made that necklace from Dabls' beads when I had no more than $20.00 to my name. I recall first meeting Dabls, our eyes both sparkled in our existence. A new friend. Nine years later, I remember this moment in the air, with an incremental life gain of .50 cents. I now have $20.50, to spend as I please. Perhaps, on an airplane sandwich.

Last year, I took a similar flight in the same amount of time, from JFK to Moscow. Around eight hours. I remember the orderly fashion of the steward-folks, tight dressed. The men and women both in states of seductive synchronous nature. Yes, it was entertaining.

Each steward-folk here on Lufthansa, today, is nice, also disheveled, but mostly nice. Tad more brunette than their blonde Aeroflot counterparts. I note such with steward-person A. Piper, whom I see a smile with hot towelettes and cheeks above her hot-tong holding manicured hands. Her glasses are thick-rimmed, black. And when she smiles, the rims of the glasses rise to touch her eyebrows. I saw A. Piper smile this day.

I sit in the middle of the plane, two seats to myself, shoes off, feet swollen. I ponder. Pondering my smile. "Am I smiling?" I MUST ask myself again and again. My feet are swollen, and I've tired in travel, my cheeks are low, and my pillow is just too soft.

When people who breathe, "There it is! Did you see that breath?" are murdered by men with all the guns, I consider this a pondering moment. When millions of children starve because their lives seemingly matter far less than the roof of Notre Dame de Paris, I consider this pondering. Here, above the Atlantic, I have these and other thoughts.

Are there friends way up here? Are there friends in places way down there?

At cafes, salons, while I smoke my many shishas, in dark dens and silent living rooms and mosquito riddled stoops, I speak on friendship. Sometimes, with friends. Mostly, with those who chance such thoughts and ponder.

I am on my way to Salzburg, Austria, to attend a forum on cultural innovation. Noted. What does cultural innovation even mean, really?

With no agenda and all the agency, I will be among 50 arts and cultural doers from around the world. I shall continue to sleep, walk along some paths where I find them, and not think on the meaning of cultural innovation. The pathways will always be waiting for feet.

"I took in fresh air full of rotten leaves …"

Sometimes when I walk, there may be horrors, and I am afraid. In unknown darkness, eyes await; other times, such paths are hard on my soles, but I will smile. I wonder while walking in the woods in Austria, will I smell fresh renewal in the air and give pause for some smiles?

I've smiled when a child has said 'Salam' to me by some fishermen boats. I've smiled when fall's wet golden leaves dust-up over wet Parisian cement. I've even smiled when "not-Halim" took all my money and told me once upon a JFK story. Perhaps, after this forum, I will smile in Istanbul, my next andanzas to be had. Such hope-filled future smiles with daily "günaydın" chats and the taking of kahve, again and again. Thoughts of "I am Armenian."

Life may suffer, but there is always joy in places to be found.

Last year, in downtown Tunis, I had friendship moments at a cafe full of young "we resist to be terrorized, we will sit and drink our espresso in public spaces" people. It was on the very same street where I had these moments that "not-Halim" shared with me the news of the Brothers of Islam and their hatred of me, and of the suicide bombings the week prior and of the police on Avenue Habib Bourguiba. But, he never told me of the sadness of the Tunisian youth, the suicides, the untold rapes, the fading bright stars. He never told me of the forgotten promises. He never told me of all the luck we most likely will share.

Such luck continues as we breathe.

I remember there was little joy in "not-Halim's" eyes. I only noticed small, thoughtful bits of "finally another American will pay me what he owes." But, with these thoughtful bits, considerations of loss and all, I still found joy.

Landing in what can only be described as a quaint airport in Salzburg, Austria, I was greeted by a woman in red. Piercing red high heels, red dress, red top, fully equipped with forever seasons of bright red. She stood in front of a bronze airport tower. My shoes move on the tarmac; I recall this moment to be of some significance.

"I have arrived to do some imaginary stuff."

These movements we all make, to attest, to live. We live in the places that we make way toward and then arrive. And these places, they are significant, when we breathe alone, or together. Let us recognize such momentary places we traverse if only to "find our light" – So says a dear friend Charly, "find your light."

Upon arrival, I was rushed inside. Rushed to the desk. Rushed to the room. Rushed to get that wifi code. Rushed to tour the grounds. Rushed in realization that Europeans love twin-sized beds. Rushed to hear Schloss Leopoldskron's complicated histories by persons who are rushed. History of Nazi command, history of The Sound of Music filming, histories of race, religion, and resounding power. And then I sleep.

When I woke, I met a man who waved at me at the airport in Detroit. His name is RD, and I now know him to be a friend. Then more persons with eyes that sparkle. Rushed again, I do recall. Memory of a woman and a goose in the wood. Distorted memories in rushed spaces.

The following week, we all gathered. Many times we took part in the Salzburg Global Seminar's cultural forum. Striking ideas of current and future cross-cultural collaboration, and what my dear friend Abhinit and I renamed "GLOBAL" gathering. Because, "Oh, this is global, the gathering of only the globals ya'know," Ha! But what a journey, our andanzas, we created together and felt, and cried through. There was power in our gathering. This, I see.

Day after day, with empty journals, I walked the ground. I stood, then came close to understanding past things. I watched the gray and green mountains to catch them in their movements. I took in that fresh air full of rotten leaves that I had hoped. I considered all those who have moved in these spaces and those who have always moved here for a very long time. Indigenous nature and its inhabitants. For now, with hope, and future imitations of such movements, I again take sleep.


The Salzburg Global Seminar Program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum annual program. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

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Maria Galea: No Big Words Can Describe This Experience
Photo by Herman Siedl
Maria Galea: No Big Words Can Describe This Experience
By: Maria Galea 

Salzburg Global Fellow reflects on her experience at the sixth program of the YCI Forum

Maria Galea is a Salzburg Global Fellow. She recently attended the sixth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. This blog was originally published on Galea's website.

This is my very first blog. It has taken me a while to let myself go and make time to share my experiences with you all. The experience I am about to share has definitely triggered the need to do so. I have just returned home from the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, a five-day stay in the incredible Schloss Leopoldskron, a magical place, to say the least.

However, what has really made this experience special were the other 49 young cultural innovators selected from all over the world. Their stories, their passion, their energy, and how we all became so connected by the end of our journey, has really given me a new perspective on how to perceive both myself and the world around me.

We came in different forms; poets, visual artists, dancers, singers, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, drivers behind institutions, entrepreneurs, activists, gallerists, curators, and the list goes on. However, really and truly, we are just humans using a different language leading to the same goal - that of creating positive change in our communities through arts and culture.

Justin Galea, Romina Delia, and I were this year's Maltese participants at the Forum. We met at the train station in Vienna and started to make our way to Salzburg. We had only met briefly before. Our three-hour train journey to Salzburg was a great time for us to get to know each other even better before embarking on this amazing experience together. We didn’t really know what to expect upon arrival. I mainly wanted to meet new people around the world who shared a common language of love for the arts and a passion for innovation that leads toward positive change.

During the first two days, I was still connecting the dots to why was I really here and what the main goal of this Forum really was. We were told that in the next few days we would be diving into a series of “workshops” and “sharing sessions” touching diverse topics that we come across in our work as well as focusing on ourselves as individuals and our core purpose. Big words, but no big word can really describe what we felt.

Every morning we would wake up to a postcard-like view of mountains, birds flying over a mirror-like lake, trees, and fresh air. We would first all meet in a big room where we performed Japanese exercises called “Rajio Taisou,” which left big energetic smiles on our faces before starting our long day of discussions.

The workshops were a useful combination of tools. Some answered questions, and others tackled challenges. We engaged in diverse topics from partnerships, fundraising, leadership, sustainability, to active discussions around global issues and narratives. However, one of the most powerful workshops was about “the power of listening” - a series of exercises focused around the importance of listening to one another, as well as to listen to ourselves in moments of silence. This is something which we usually take for granted in our day to day lives.

The so-called “sharing sessions” where the moment I realized why I was really here and why I needed to be here. We were divided into a group of people from all sorts of backgrounds. We met in the same room every day, and we all knew that what is shared in this room stays only within us.

The first day our facilitator asked us to try and describe our balance between our career, family, friends, and values, or beliefs. We were basically asked to face reality of our present life. On the second day we were asked to think deeply about our purpose. What drives us? This took us back to the past and what really sparked us to lead us through this path. On our third day, we were asked to select three words that describe our future.

We faced the changes we want to make in our lives, what our deeper goal is and now we had a clear reason for why we want to do it. We laughed, we cried, we stayed silent, we thanked each other for sharing, gave long hugs of comfort and - at the end - we would stay in a circle, hold hands and just shout as loud as we could. Little did I know that this group of strangers in a room in this amazing palace would change my perspective of life.

We sometimes underestimate the value of listening to others, sharing, taking a moment just to stay still, appreciating people around us, and why we are actually doing what we are doing. We sometimes get so lost in the middle of all of it that we lose the connection to our existential purpose. Listening to others, sharing common values, passions and struggles, created a deep bond between us. No matter where we are, and no matter what we are doing, we will now always know that we are never alone and that we can always count on each other.

As “young cultural innovators,” we find ourselves immersed in passion, continuously finding new ways to break the walls of cultural resistance to change, engaging our communities, and inspiring others to take charge. Saying that what we do is challenging and tiring is perhaps an understatement, but really and truly we wouldn’t want it any another way because we know that every tiny step we make on the way leads to a greater purpose, which will live beyond us.

This is just a very small insight into how we have lived together in these five days. However, one thing I will always hold on very tight to is understanding how we can find happiness in each other no matter what background we share.

Salzburg Global Seminar will always be that happy place in my heart, which I will never let go of. Special thanks go to all organizers, facilitators, and staff at Salzburg Global Seminar who have made us feel just like home. I would also like to thank Arts Council Malta for making this experience possible.


The Salzburg Global Seminar Program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum annual program. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

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Carl Atiya Swanson: Damn Good Advice for Being At Home in the World
Photo of George Lois's cover for Esquire magazine of Muhammad Ali (Photo: Carl Atiya Swanson)Photo: Carl Atiya Swanson
Carl Atiya Swanson: Damn Good Advice for Being At Home in the World
By: Carl Atiya Swanson 

Salzburg Global Fellow reflects on his experience at the sixth program of the YCI Forum

Carl Atiya Swanson is a Salzburg Global Fellow. He recently attended the sixth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. This blog was originally published on Swanson's LinkedIn profile

I brought two books with me to read on the plane to Austria to participate in the Salzburg Global Seminar's Young Cultural Innovators Forum, and they couldn’t have seemed more different. One was Damn Good Advice (for people with talent), the collected wisdom of maverick ad man George Lois. Even the title tells you what you need to know about Lois – brash confidence, a sense of some disdain for mere mortals, and a laser focus on talent and creativity. This is, after all, the man who created iconic covers for Esquire magazine in the 60s, drowning Andy Warhol in a can of tomato soup, and setting up Muhammad Ali as the martyred St. Sebastian.

The other book was Thich Nhat Hanh's collection of remembrances, At Home in the World. Hanh, the exiled Vietnamese Buddhist monk who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts, who was a confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a champion for mindfulness, humility, collaboration, and calm, Hahn could not seem to be more temperamentally distant from Lois.

And yet, in the context of this global gathering of young artists, creators, and leaders from around the world, these two books and minds convened in a surprising and powerful way. And it started with Muhammad Ali.

Ali is credited with one of the shortest poems in the English language, delivered as part of his commencement remarks at Harvard University. Cultural organizers and lead session facilitators (a.k.a. cool mom & dad) Shelagh Wright and Peter Jenkinson introduced the poem as an organizing principle for the gathering. Two words, with power: "ME, WE."

The "me" speaks directly to Lois' ethos of driven creativity – a creativity that can be used for good. As he put it in Damn Good Advice, "No matter what stage you are in your career, use your creativity to stand up for our heroes, and protect your culture against the villains." That phrasing, that framing, that opening of understanding held a space for connection, immediacy, and urgency – start something was a theme of the gathering. Fifty creatives from around the world put into a space together to spark each other’s creativity and networks carry that energy forward.

In this context, with these people there was also the opportunity for global connection and understanding, making possible what Hanh writes about his peace activism, which is rooted in the "we." He writes, "Taking action against injustice is not enough. We believed action must embody mindfulness. If there is no awareness, action will only cause more harm." It is incredibly easy to get caught up in our own context as the only way of being. This is especially true because powerful and changemaking organizing happens at a local level. But a global understanding and awareness, a shared perspective of our "we" is what we need for transformation – as Hanh's title says, we must be at home in the world, not just at home in our home.

As the Forum progressed, breakout groups brought deeper conversation and sharing. Every single person there, whether from Manila or Cape Town or New Orleans, was deep in the process of making creative work and making meaning. The processes pushed us to make the intuitive apparent. The process of self-discovery is asking why you do the things you do, why you feel the way you do. The act of organizational discovery is asking why we have the systems we have, what have we created because of the biases and heuristics of the people, and what can we pull out. Things that go unsaid go unexamined, and the work is to say the thing first, so it can be understood. "Creativity is not created, it is there for us to find – it is an act of discovery," writes Lois.

In our personal lives, like in strategic planning and facilitation, the process of discovery is about uncovering deeper resources for resiliency. "Each of us needs a reserve of memories and experiences that are beautiful, healthy and strong enough to help us during difficult moments," writes Hanh. "Sometimes, when the pain in us is so big, we cannot truly touch life's wonders. We need help. But if we have a strong storehouse of memories and experiences, we can bring them to the mind to help us embrace the block of pain inside." The process of being together, of being facilitated through questions and exploration grounded us in the help we all need to build for the future.

That work around surfacing connections and building relationships also underscored how the "me" and the "we" can be flipped. Even the individualist Lois writes, "No matter what field you’re in, identify the revolutionary leaders, and create for those who have the capacity to thrill to your Big Ideas." In Salzburg, those leaders were and are all of us. The sharing of ideas was a reminder that it is not enough to do the work, you have to let people know what you are doing, so that they can support and shape your work.

To be in nourishing conversation and community, however physically temporary, was also refreshing because of some of the lack of expectations. In our home environments, in our regular practices, it is easy to feel burdened by responsibilities, by an accumulated sense of being who you are because of the things you do and the people you know. It is important to be in those relationships, but it was enormously refreshing to be reminded that you are valuable because of who you are, not what you are connected to or might have access to. That the value we bring to our organizations and work is not just knowledge and network, but personality, internal creativity. Hanh reminds us that the “we” does not exist without the “me,” when he writes, “If we only rely on external conditions, we will get lost. We need a refuge we can always rely on, and that is the island of self. Firmly established on our inner island, we’re very safe. We can take time to recover and restore ourselves, and become stronger, until we’re ready to go out and engage.”

On the transatlantic flight home, trying to process the experience and be ready to engage, giddy on a few hours of sleep, I had a synthesizing moment. "Write things down, and say them aloud to make meaning," came to me in between getting weepy at Avengers: Endgame and turbulent naps. If someone were to grab me on the street and yell, "Why are you here?" that is my answer right now. It's why this essay exists, it's why every time I talk about the experience, I feel like a new facet or memory shines through.

Like any addict in recovery, I’m suspicious of high highs and low lows. But the passion and energy of the Salzburg cohort carries on, aided by Instagram, WhatsApp, and emails. In Damn Good Advice, Lois quotes Abraham Lincoln, saying "When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees." That’s the kind of energy we left the Schloss Leopoldskron with. In the two weeks since the end of the Forum, I count two announcements of quitting jobs, a restaurant concept opened, and a Masters' program accepted into. Hell, I made a zine, as a shared reminder of the experience. There is more to come, because there is more to do, and more we can do together.

I'm left with this passage from At Home in the World, as an extended offering of gratitude for the Fellows, facilitators, and the experience:

"One day when I was a child, I looked in a large clay water jar in the front yard that we used for collecting water and I saw a very beautiful leaf at the bottom. It had so many colors. I wanted to take it out and play with it, but my arm was too short to reach the bottom. So I used a stick to try and get it out. It was so difficult I became impatient. I stirred twenty times, thirty times, and yet the leaf didn’t come up to the surface. So I gave up and threw the stick away.

"When I came back a few minutes later, I was surprised to see the leaf floating on the surface of the water, and I picked it up. While I was away the water had continued to turn, and had brought the leaf up to the surface. This is how our unconscious mind works. When we have a problem to solve, or when we want more insight into a solution, we need to entrust the task of finding a solution to a deeper level of our consciousness."

Thank you to the "we" who stirred up each other’s waters. Now let’s look to the future to we want to build, to start acting how we want once we are all free.


The Salzburg Global Seminar Program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum annual program. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

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The Art of Dialog in a Time of Rapid Change
From left: Ayehsa Hadhir, Safiya Al Maskari, Laila Binbrek. (Photos: Herman Seidl)
The Art of Dialog in a Time of Rapid Change
By: Claire Kidwell 

How artists and innovators from the UAE are using arts as a bridge to connect the Gulf region, the Middle East, and the world

“They might have certain stereotypes or preconceived ideas about [us], they might not even know the UAE per se, but just of the region as a whole… Arts and culture is a very non-threatening way to have dialog,” says Laila Binbrek, the director of the National Pavilion UAE. Binbrek oversees the organization’s operation and participation with the Venice Biennale. A resident of the UAE for 13 years, Binbrek has seen how its art sector continues to expand, flourish, and bridge divides.

She spoke while attending the sixth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. For the first time, thanks to support from the Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, the multi-year series welcomed participants from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to its program. Binbrek was joined by the manager of Lest We Forget Safiya Al Maskari and Warehouse421 program coordinator Ayesha Hadir.

Al Maskari’s work involves archiving oral history, art, and photography. She says, “We had a lot of people coming to our exhibitions and saying, ‘Oh, we used to do the same thing, or we had the same thing…’ We're different but very similar in some ways. And we did that through art.”

As part of a government initiative to create more arts within the gulf region, the UAE has made significant in-roads in the sector over the past decade. In 2007, Abu Dhabi agreed to pay $520 million to attach the Louvre’s name to a museum being built on Saadiyat Island, which opened in 2017.

Changes in the arts sector have come at a quick pace, according to Binbrek, and sometimes it’s hard for people’s mindsets to keep up with the times. She says, “People, in general, are not really good with change, but with such rapid change, it requires sometimes some difficult conversations to happen or introspection to happen a lot quicker than maybe anticipated and really through the arts… is one of those ways to bring up those topics that even internally within, let's say, families or communities or workspaces where you can have those discussions that are not necessarily so politically charged.”

Throughout this year’s program in Salzburg, the inaugural members of the YCI Abu Dhabi Hub networked with other innovators, discussed topics including mental health, and planned solutions for growing the arts sector internationally. Hadir says the experience showed her how much pressure she was putting on herself and her work. She says, “I feel like everything is just hectic back home and to be here and just to pause…that was very powerful for me.”

Al Maskari shares Hadir’s sentiments. She says, “It's just it's an eye-opener and it's nice to learn how people approach their project and thinking outside of the box. I think that's one thing that's I go back with.”

Binbrek says the program gave her validation. “What you realize is that we all have very similar struggles. And sometimes what that individual has used to overcome their problem is something that you can use in any environment, whether it's personal or a work environment.”

Stereotypes, forms of oppression, strict government controls, and racism are some of the challenges participants at this year’s YCI Forum have faced. Al Maskari says you can learn a lot by merely listening to someone else’s story.

“I feel like it really helps to sit with other individuals. Just listen to them, and then sometimes they make you think of things that you never thought of. So it was helpful sitting with everyone and listening to what everyone has to say and hear their background, their stories, and what they do.”

Despite the diversity of personalities, projects, and passions at this year’s YCI Forum, Binbrek, Al Maskari, and Hadhir suggested a common thread existed, which enabled fruitful discussions to take place. Hadhir says, “[YCI] really built like a whole different family that you never expected.”

Binbrek adds, “I mean, everybody here, even though we all come from different parts of the world, we come from different echelons of society and, you know, work, but we've all come here with a particular intention to be present in this moment in time and take the most that we can from all the workshops and the different individuals who are sharing their knowledge with us. So we're really lucky in this atmosphere. But the thing is, you can create that wherever you go. You just need to identify and don't be afraid to ask to meet somebody for a coffee and just talk.”


The Salzburg Global Seminar Program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum annual program. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

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Fostering Connections Across a Vast Land
From left: Micheal Prosserman, Daniel Rumbolt, Katie Green, Frances Koncan, Alison Uttley. (Photo: Claire Kidwell)From left: Micheal Prosserman, Daniel Rumbolt, Katie Green, Frances Koncan, Alison Uttley. (Photo: Claire Kidwell)
Fostering Connections Across a Vast Land
By: Claire Kidwell 

Newest YCI Fellows from Canada explain how the arts are a way to bridge distances and cultures in their isolated communities

There’s more to Canada than maple syrup and “nice people.” That’s one of the messages Canadian participants wanted to put across at this year’s program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

“The diversity, the connection that can be made through the arts, I think gives relationship and understanding to the super diverse and super expansive cultural practices that now exist within Canada. And I don't know if that fully exists anywhere else,” says Katie Green, an artist and social entrepreneur from Montreal.

Green is one of five new recruits for the YCI Canada Hub, joining Frances Koncan, Michael Prosserman, Daniel Rumbolt, and Alison Uttley. All five were able to convene at Schloss Leopoldskron this year thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.  

Canada has a reputation for “niceness,” but it hasn’t escaped the trend of political polarization, according to Uttley, communications director at Business for Peace. Uttley, a Toronto native who now lives in Norway, believes art can be used as a bridge to forge connections.

“We have divides that are deep and part of this global trend. I really believe that art brings people together. It opens minds. It changes minds. I think it's essential in the current moment we're living in to do as much communication with each other as we can,” says Uttley.

The newest members of the YCI Canada Hub suggest division in the country exists both socially and geographically. “We’re diverse but dispersed,” agreed Daniel Rumbolt, a board member of Canadian Artists’ Representation from Newfoundland.

The whole group agree arts can bridge these communities spread across Canada by joint projects and initiatives. However, to spread these projects across all of Canada, they hope more Canadians can attend future iterations of the YCI Forum.

From the United States, there were 19 participants at this year’s program. Comparing the two countries, Rumbolt says, “If we're talking about scope and diversity in geography and place, Canada should have just as many representatives right now.”

Frances Koncan, from the Couchiching First Nation, often travels to Vancouver and Toronto working as an artistic director and playwright. She believes the focus is shifting towards celebrating indigenous arts. She says, “We're a really young country compared to a lot of countries in the world. And we're also a country that has a long history of oppression of certain groups of people that are only now being able to tell their stories and practice their traditional arts. So I think moving forward, Canada's going to be like a great hub for artistic expression because we have new generations of people reclaiming their history and pushing that forwards.”

Uttley says there’s interesting perspectives Canadians can offer and cites artists living and working in the Arctic as an example. She says, “I think the future of the Arctic is such an important conversation, and the art happening there as well. I think it's great especially for Canada to be part of that conversation. I don't even know how to get to the Arctic in Canada from Toronto, frankly, and it would be amazing to make friends with people from there.”

During the five-day program, participants had the chance to talk to other young artists and innovators from all over the globe. Green especially appreciated getting the chance to share potential solutions with other artists, and discovering they all face similar challenges in their own cultural and regional hubs.

“I think another really beautiful thing just about being here is that everyone's doing such different work, but in a creative realm. And I think that's super inspiring to be able to learn from other people and connect with other people that are doing things totally differently. But even with the same kind of core values and with the same kind of love,” says Green.

The YCI Forum fosters creative innovation and social entrepreneurship to shape a better world. Positive social change and leadership development were key themes this year, and got the Canadians thinking about what they could do globally and within their own borders.

Michael “Piecez” Prosserman, CEO of EPIC Leadership xChange, says, “I think to me it's actually less about creating more things and more about going out of our circle in Canada because we are so far apart and it's a good excuse to sort of live in our city or in our community, which is hard to get out of…opportunities like this, I think, need to be more in places like Canada where you can't get on a train and go to another country like as you can in Europe.”

Rumbolt says, “We just spent 20 minutes talking about the isolation and the issues and transportation in Canada and the fact that the five of us are from five completely different places and we ended up in Austria together is pretty incredible, and something that needs to be commended and fostered. And it needs to be something that people are excited to talk about and excited to support.”


The Salzburg Global Seminar Program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum annual program. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Sheika Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

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Shaping a Better World Through Cultural Innovation
Photo by Peder Cho on UnsplashPhoto by Peder Cho on Unsplash
Shaping a Better World Through Cultural Innovation
By: Claire Kidwell 

Salzburg Global Seminar prepares to welcome 49 new participants for latest program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators

Artists, entrepreneurs, and innovators from around the world will convene in Salzburg next week to discuss and strategize ways to drive change through the power of the arts and culture.

More than 50 leaders from around the world have been selected for the sixth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators - Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform.

This year’s program, which takes place between October 22 and October 27, brings together participants and faculty from 17 countries including Albania, Argentina, Austria, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malta, Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

The YCI Forum fosters creative innovation and social entrepreneurship for global development. In this year’s program, participants will undergo leadership development and craft new ways to advance positive social change.

YCI Program Director Susanna Seidl-Fox said, "By connecting and supporting this next generation of creative changemakers, Salzburg Global aims to support and strengthen the evolving cultural ecosystem, catalyze cross-sectoral connections, and expand the possibilities for civic innovation and social improvement through the power and creativity of the arts worldwide.”

All participants are aged between 25-35 and have at least two years of professional experience in the arts or cultural sector. Each participant is passionate about creating social change within their community.

This year’s program is also aligned with several Sustainable Development Goals. Participants will look at how people within the arts and cultural sector can create sustainable cities and communities as well as positive innovation for the future.

Salzburg Global Seminar is delighted to welcome back YCI Fellows who have participated in previous programs as Facilitators. They will be on hand to assure continuity, communication, and exchange of best practices across the Forum.

Faye Hobson, YCI Program Manager, said, “The goals of the program in Salzburg are to welcome the new YCIs into the YCI Forum network, connect them with each other, and provide opportunities for them to reflect on their own practice, as well as on their role in their community, in their city, and as part of the YCI network worldwide. This year the YCI Forum is being co-created by Salzburg Global, the YCI facilitation team, and members of the YCI Forum network. We believe that co-creation taps into the collective insight and potential of groups, and is especially effective when bringing together YCIs from around the world who are facing common challenges in their work to generate breakthrough solutions that shape a better world.”

The expected outcomes of this program include:

  • Supporting next generation creative change-makers who are major, yet unrecognized or under-resourced, drivers of civic innovation and imaginative social change;
  • Creating a world-class network of Young Cultural Innovators to strengthen and encourage cross-sectoral collaboration between the arts sector and other sectors over the next five years;
  • Building the capacity of a critical mass (500+) of networked young creative change-makers committed to innovative leadership, social impact, entrepreneurial approaches, and exchange of best practices within and among “YCI hubs” worldwide;
  • Generating a multiplier effect through the “YCI hubs” by sharing the learning from the Salzburg sessions and inspire innovation, collaboration, and peer mentoring at the local and regional levels; and
  • Disseminating the Forum’s groundbreaking ideas around the intersection between the arts and social impact to a broad community of stakeholders and build a creative impact network for continuing dialogue, collaboration and advocacy, through social media and catalyzed by the “YCI hubs.”

The Salzburg Global Seminar Program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum annual program. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Sheika Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

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YCI Forum Receives Support from Shalini Passi Art Foundation
Logos of Salzburg Global Seminar and Shalini Passi Art FoundationThe Shalini Passi Art Foundation will support Abhinit Khanna's attendance at this year's program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
YCI Forum Receives Support from Shalini Passi Art Foundation
By: Oscar Tollast 

Foundation will support participation of Mumbai-based arts manager Abhinit Khanna

Salzburg Global Seminar is delighted to announce the Shalini Passi Art Foundation has agreed to support this year’s program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

The Foundation will enable Mumbai-based arts manager Abhinit Khanna to attend this year’s program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform.

Khanna, who has more than nine years of experience working in visual arts, design, and creative business development, will be one of 50 young cultural innovators from around the world taking part.

Participants will convene at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria, between October 22 and October 27.

The Shalini Passi Art Foundation endeavors to create a new paradigm for artistic expression in India, by supporting, educating, and encouraging experimental new practices in the field of arts that take inspiration from India’s rich cultural traditions to create a contemporary aesthetic for India.

Shalini Passi is the founder and director of the Foundation, as well as My Art Shalini (MASH) – an online arts platform that collapses the hierarchical distinctions between architecture, art, craft, design, and fashion, by eliciting a rich discourse around creativity in modernity.

Reflecting on his selection for this year’s program, Khanna said, “The prestigious Seminar empowers young leaders in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. It is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in ‘hub’ communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

“This year the program is specifically looking at empowering cultural leaders from the Global South and I’m delighted to know more about networking opportunities, support, and programming.

“I will be able to bring these knowledges to facilitate the setting up of 'The Fort Arts Center' - a non-profit arts organization in the heart of South Bombay, which I am currently working towards launching in 2020. I’m also looking forward to learn and exchange ideas with other important cultural workers from around the world.”

The YCI Forum sees the ability to network and communicate as one of its founding principles. The YCI Forum has young change agents from around the world representing a broad spectrum of cultural expression and artistic endeavor –  including visual arts, performing arts, literature, cultural heritage, foods, fashion, architecture, and design.

In addition to India, the YCI Forum has welcomed Fellows from Adelaide, Athens, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Canada, Cape Town, Detroit, Japan, Malta, Manila, Memphis, New Orleans, Mekong Delta, Nairobi, Plovdiv, Rotterdam, Salzburg, Seoul, Slovakia, Tirana, and the Upper Midwest in the U.S.

Other members attending this year’s Forum have now been selected and informed. Their biographies will be made available on salzburgglobal.org in the near future.

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Salzburg Global and Kresge Foundation Provide Seven Travel Awards to YCIs
Picture of plane on globePhoto by Frank Vex on Unsplash
Salzburg Global and Kresge Foundation Provide Seven Travel Awards to YCIs
By: Oscar Tollast 

Scholarship scheme will promote exchanges from or to Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans

Salzburg Global Seminar has awarded seven travel awards as part of a scheme to deepen connections within the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

The funds have been made possible by The Kresge Foundation and will promote exchanges from or to Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans.

Accepted proposals also involve Salzburg Global Fellows from Baltimore, Japan, Buenos Aires, and Adelaide.

Creating connections between the United States and Japan

Yu Nakamura, who attended the YCI Forum’s 2016 program, will travel with her film crew from Japan to Lafayette and New Orleans to document Cajun food, culture, and history. Nakamura is hoping this exchange will provide her with insights on how to preserve traditional food cultures in Japan and Thailand. She will connect with fellow YCIs Samuel Oliver and Alphonse Smith.

Smith, who attended the YCI Forum’s 2016 program, will also pursue a cross-cultural collaboration between the arts and culture communities in New Orleans and Japan. Traveling from New Orleans, Smith will begin his trip in Tokyo with the non-profit organization Ubdobe Japan, a health and welfare organization led by Salzburg Global Fellow Yuki Oka, who also attended the YCI Forum’s 2016 program. Smith is hoping to lay the groundwork for dialogue, cultural exchange, and collaboration between Japanese and New Orleans artists related to health, welfare, and cultural innovation.

Another YCI from New Orleans will also visit Japan. Nicolas Aziz, who also attended the YCI Forum’s 2016 program, will catch up with faculty member Hiroko Kikuchi and YCI Shuko Ebihara. Ebihara, who founded Kuriya, is working with young immigrants from the Philippines. Aziz will learn from Kuriya and apply his learnings working with immigrants in New Orleans. Aziz is also planning to visit the “Professionals in Schools” program in Tomioka to learn more about the impact of artists truly immersing themselves within communities.

Sharing stories from different cultures

Steven Fox, another 2016 YCI Forum Fellow, will work with Aziz for his project, “A Path to Memphis and New Orleans.” Fox will explore the historical and cultural connection of the French and Spanish cultures via Memphis and New Orleans. Fox has three goals: share research and analysis; write and share a book of poetry and photographs; and record and share a podcast with interviews.

Meanwhile, Jose Cotto, who attended the YCI Forum’s 2018 program, will travel to Baltimore to kick-start a project which focuses on the impacts of incarceration on families and communities. Cotto, from New Orleans, will create space for people connected to the prison system to share their stories. He will work with Salzburg Global Fellow Bilphena Yahwon, who also attended the YCI Forum’s 2018 program.

Film screenings and book fairs in Detroit

Mario Pozzi, from Argentina, will build on his previous experience and connections, curating and producing a selection of the 2019 Human Rights Film Festival of Buenos Aires Edition. Pozzi, who attended the YCI Forum’s 2017 program, will organize screenings both in Detroit and Memphis. Screenings will take place during the Freep Film Festival of Detroit (April 22-26, 2020) and under the Indie Memphis Nights format.

Before the first screening in Detroit, Sebastian Chuffer will organize a Future Filmmaker Workshop. Chuffer, who attended the YCI Forum’s 2016 program, will lead a workshop which teaches children about storytelling. Shots developed by workshop participants will premiere at the second Human Rights and Environmental Film Festival U.S. Tour and will be shown again in Memphis.

Staying in Detroit, Sanja Grozdanic will curate and host a free literary event during the Detroit Art Book Fair, a fair founded by YCI Maia Asshaq. Grozdanic, who is a member of the Adelaide YCI Hub, attended the Forum’s 2016 program, will meet new artists and writers to commission for her international art publication KRASS. Asshaq has previously written for KRASS, and Grozdanic hopes to include other YCI’s in the future.

All travel awardees will report on their activities and accomplishments by fall 2020.


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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Moving from Me to We in Memphis, Tennessee
Beale Street, Memphis (Photo by Heidi Kaden Lopyreva on Unsplash)Beale Street, Memphis (Photo by Heidi Kaden Lopyreva on Unsplash)
Moving from Me to We in Memphis, Tennessee
By: Oscar Tollast 

Salzburg Global Forum for Young Culture Innovators travels to United States for third regional meeting

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators will go stateside this week for a Regional Fellows Event in Memphis, Tennessee.

The three-day program, Moving from Me to We: US Regional Young Cultural Innovators Event, will convene 30 Salzburg Global Fellows from Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans from May 9 to May 12.

Fellows will be encouraged to “move from me to we” while reflecting on their roles within their respective hubs and cities and exploring what they want to achieve together in their local communities.

This is the third time the YCI Forum has held a regional meeting in the United States, having previously convened programs in New Orleans (2018) and Detroit (2017). This meeting is being supported by The Kresge Foundation.

Memphis, Detroit, and New Orleans are cities undergoing radical urban transformation and social renewal. During the program, Fellows are encouraged to share their experiences, coach each other, and strategize for the future.

There will also be panel discussions on creating safe spaces, shifting work, community building, and partnerships. YCI faculty members Amina J. Dickerson, Peter Jenkinson, and Shelagh Wright will return to facilitate the event.

Salzburg Global Seminar will be represented by Susanna Seidl-Fox, program director, culture and the arts; Benjamin Glahn, vice president, development and operations; Andy Ho, US development director; Faye Hobson, program manager, culture, arts, and education; and Clare Shine, vice president and chief program officer.

Activities will be hosted at the Memphis Music Initiative, the National Civil Rights Museum, and CMPLX. Fellows will have the opportunity to hear from the people behind these organizations and learn how their work is shifting the narrative in Memphis’ cultural sector and amplifying voices often overlooked.

Guest speakers at this year’s event include Amber Hamilton, chief operations and strategy officer at Memphis Music Initiative, Britney Thornton, executive director of Juice Orange Mound, and Noel Trent, director of interpretation, collections, and education at the National Civil Rights Museum.

The meeting will conclude with a closing night concert featuring performances from YCI artist IMAKEMADBEATS and other artists from Memphis label Unapologetic.


Moving from Me to We: US Regional Young Cultural Innovators Event is the third US regional meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. This event is being supported by The Kresge Foundation. For more information on this program, please click here.

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New Answers on the Importance of Culture
Chunnoon Song-e Song speaking at Salzburg Global SeminarChunnoon Song-e Song speaking at Salzburg Global Seminar
New Answers on the Importance of Culture
By: Lucy Browett and Oscar Tollast 

Salzburg Global Fellow Chunnoon Song-e Song reflects on her career changes since attending her first Salzburg Global program

In 2014, Chunnoon Song-e Song arrived at Schloss Leopoldskron looking for answers. She was one of 50 rising talents invited to attend the inaugural program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. At the time, she was in charge of cultural and international relations at the National Museum of Korea. Now, almost five years later, she is working for the UNESCO Office for Afghanistan as associate program manager of the National Program for Culture and Creative Economy. A lot has changed.

“When I joined Salzburg Global Seminar (in 2014), it was really an eye-opener for me because it was when I was starting to think whether culture is an essential thing in your life,” said Song, speaking at Salzburg Global’s latest program, What Future for Cultural Heritage? Perceptions, Problematics, and Potential.

Responding to this dilemma was difficult. “But I wanted to find an answer,” said Song. “I wanted to help a project, or I wanted to be a person who deals with an important thing. I wanted to find the enthusiastic point of my work...”

In her role, she was coordinating the Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces, an Asia-Europe Museum Network project encouraging cooperation between museums in both continents. She said, “Sitting [at a] desk in Seoul, surrounded by beautiful objects, it was [an] amusing experience, but at the same time it was very painful because I couldn’t find the answer to this question: does cultural heritage actually matter to people?

In Salzburg, she realized there were other practitioners like her asking similar questions and trying to find answers in “the most innovative way.” Song looked within herself and considered whether her interest lay, reminding herself of her love for cultural heritage and cultural projects.

The Asia-Europe Museum Network project involved around 150 museums. The essence of the project was to gather the digital information of these museum’s masterpieces. Song said, “At first I would just continue with the work, but then after coming back from Salzburg Global Seminar, I started thinking, can’t we make use of this in a better way to show that culture actually matters? Then I started thinking that maybe we should include the museums that people actually cannot visit.”

Recognizing many of the participating museums were based in “relatively safer environments,” Song thought, “What’s the point of showing the objects that people can actually see?” She developed an interest in museums based in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

The National Museum of Afghanistan was the first institution Song got into contact with about inventorying and documenting the digital data of the museum’s objects. UNESCO Afghanistan, Song, and the National Museum of Korea collaborated and launched a project in 2015.

Song then asked herself another question: does cultural heritage matter in a country which is experiencing conflict? She accepted a job offer from UNESCO and went to work with people in Afghanistan. Three and a half years later, Song says she has an answer. “Culture actually matters to people – really matters to people… Often some donors, who are not residing in Afghanistan, they would ask, do you really think that culture matters in Afghanistan when children die [from] starving and etc.? I tell them you should have an interview with the Afghan people. They feel depressed without culture.

“They feel they do not get the opportunity to show their pride if they are deprived of culture. I have been working in the most unfortunate places – even in Afghanistan – which is the refugee camps and internally displaced people camps and discovered how much joy that cultural projects can bring to these people and how much of a hope that it actually brings to people. It’s something that’s not tangible. It’s something that you cannot actually see or measure. It’s often neglected by the international society which doesn’t really know the situation, but if you actually go on the field, you immediately see the change.”

To highlight to donors how significant cultural projects are, Song and her colleagues recently organized a participatory theater project to bring host communities and internally displaced people closer together. Song said, “There were interventions by U.N. agencies and in other international agencies to tackle the issue of lack of food and lack of water and lack of education. But there really hasn’t been any attempts to tackle the issue of lack of cultural connection or cultural communication.”

Children received professional acting classes for three months. They performed plays highlighting the narratives of their parents. Song said, “They are the stories of why they had to move to this province, this area, and why they had to leave their own hometown… the reaction that we got from the host community was really immense. The host community [said], ‘We wouldn’t have imagined the difficulties that they had to go through to come and live with us…’ They would feel that these internally displaced people are human beings who they can communicate with now…

“It’s not just bread and water that they need because they are human beings and if they want to live the future, and if they want to build the future for the country and not having people to leave the country and flee the country all the time, what really matters is the cultural project.”

Since working for the UNESCO Office for Afghanistan, Song has been based in Kabul, Bamiyan, and in Seoul. She is mainly in charge of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and enhancing the diversity of cultural expressions in conflict areas. One project Song is responsible for is the Bamiyan Cultural Centre, which is due to open in May 2020. It will be based near the boundaries of the World Heritage property of the Cultural Landscapes and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley, a site which made headlines following the destruction of the standing Buddhas in 2001.

Song says the community is ready to move on from this incident. She said “We started supporting their festivals, and we started supporting the expression of their cultural diversity and the diversity of their cultural practices… after five years of this implementation, we now have at least one festival every month. It’s really fun to watch that. It’s really enjoyable to watch it because you see that it was triggered by UNESCO, but then it was the role of the community to prolong with that…”


What Future for Cultural Heritage? Perceptions, Problematics, and Potential is the latest program in Salzburg Global’s Culture, Arts and Society series. The program is being held in partnership with the Edward T. Cone Foundation, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, Fulbright Greece, and the Korea Foundation. For more information on the program, please click here.

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How a New Partnership Led to Beautiful Insights
Helen Yung (center) and Nic Aziz (left) collaborate at a workshop with Nuestra Voz (Photo by Taylor Castillo of Nuestra Voz)Helen Yung (center) and Nic Aziz (left) collaborate at a workshop with Nuestra Voz (Photo by Taylor Castillo of Nuestra Voz)
How a New Partnership Led to Beautiful Insights
By: Lucy Browett 

Salzburg Global Fellow Helen Yung collaborates with fellow YCI alumnus Nic Aziz after receiving a travel scholarship

From one YCI Hub to another. Helen Yung is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher and cultural consultant working in Toronto, Canada. Using a travel scholarship, she was able to travel to New Orleans to collaborate with another YCI Fellow.

The trip took place through a travel scholarship awarded by Salzburg Global Seminar and funded by the Kresge Foundation to enable YCI alumni to continue collaborating across borders.

Yung, who attended the fourth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2017, collaborated with Nic Aziz, who participated at the YCI Forum in 2016, having met at the Americas Cultural Summit hosted in 2018 by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Discussing how this collaboration came about, Yung said, “Nic and I were introduced in advance of the Summit via email by YCI Forum facilitator Shelagh Wright. There were many participants from around the world, so if Shelagh hadn’t made that effort to connect us, we might not have met at the Americas Cultural Summit. When we did meet, Nic and I found we had a lot in common, a kind of immediate affinity. We even gathered a small group to participate a bit differently in the Summit proceedings, so engaging as collaborators was intuitive, organic.”

She added, “The fact that there a travel grant was offered by Salzburg Global soon after the Summit made it immediately possible for me to follow up with Nic to ask if he wanted to think about working together. He replied saying he had thought the same thing, and so, again, the rest developed organically out of our practices, networks, and interests.”

The Fellows led a roundtable discussion with Arts Council New Orleans, a workshop with Nuestra Voz at their monthly punta del pueblo (community meeting) and assembled a photo exhibition that Nic had curated for the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA).

Commenting on the Nuestra Voz workshop, Yung said, “They had never offered any artistic workshops before, so this was both a bold move on their part. After the workshop, which was very successful, the staff were delighted with the impact and invited us to come back any time.

“After this positive first experience, I think they will be very receptive to future opportunities to work with artists.”

Commenting further, Yung said, “Workshop participants had a beautifully positive experience. Very quickly, everyone was laughing and inside of a special experience. I think it surprised some people how engaged everyone was… They genuinely seemed to melt and glow a bit more each time we went around the circle, and no one felt shy about visualizing their thoughts on paper when we went to table work.”

Following Yung’s travel scholarship, Aziz and Yung were invited by the Toronto Arts Council to speak at Emergence, a community arts symposium, to share their experiences as collaborators. 

Discussing her and Aziz’s talks at Emergence, Yung said, “Both our talks were enthusiastically received. Many people came up to both of us afterward, wanting to connect and offer words of appreciation. We also shared it more informally in our internal YCI Canada Hub meetings.”

Yung has also found other opportunities for collaboration as a result of this scholarship. She said, “While I was in New Orleans, Nic introduced me to Bryan C. Lee Jr, one of the co-founders of Paper Monuments, and the former executive director of Arts Council New Orleans. It was one of those tired afternoons. Bryan and I had both been traveling for work. Nic had a lot on his plate too, on top of having to host me. But once we started talking, there was again a happy affinity, a strong sense of common values and interests, as well as an opportunity to be challenged by another’s way of working in the world. So we all ended up going out for dinner to talk more, and the YCI Canada hub ended up hiring him to come to Toronto to present a Design As Protest workshop, which was a sold-out affair.

“I’ve since helped bring Bryan back to Toronto again as a speaker at the DemocracyXChange Summit. While he was in [Toronto] the second time, I took him out to see Black Lives Matter Toronto’s new multipurpose space, which I had just signed on to design with Foundation Creative Studio. Bryan offered his architectural services, so now we are collaborating on that space transformation project as well.”

Reflecting on her travel scholarship experience, Yung added, “There is no question that being able to travel and meet others in person, and particularly in their home communities, is important. I appreciated the opportunity to develop more insights into creative, international, multidisciplinary collaboration and community-based work. In many ways, this is a practice of care. Collaborating through artistic practice, through the embodied enactment of one’s beliefs and perspectives - as opposed to administratively or financially - allows us to better see and understand the socio-political dimensions that shape and inform each other’s work. Being more aware of the invisible enables us to activate, transform or augment what is latent, stuck or underpowered. There is so much more that can be done.”


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in “Hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators V
Download our latest report from the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural InnovatorsDownload our latest report from the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators V
By: Lucy Browett 

Report from the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI Forum) now online and available to download, read and share

Fifty cultural innovators and creative practitioners were brought to Schloss Leopoldskron last year when Salzburg Global Seminar launched the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

A new report highlights the work which took place during the one-week program. Fellows took part in a series of workshops, discussions and practical capacity-building exercises centered on leadership and values, communicating the value of one’s work, and principles of self-organization.

The YCIs, aged between 25 and 35, are skilled in a variety of disciplines, from visual arts and design to performance and film. They also stem from a mix of geographical contexts.

Salzburg Global’s three-strand strategic framework served as an anchor to the discussions taking place. The framework asked participants what divides they could bridge in their cities or communities, how they might collaborate, both within and across their YCI Hubs, and ultimately what systems they might be seeking to transform and how.

One of the main takeaways participants had was a heightened focus on self-care and asking for help. Much of the damage we can inflict on ourselves is because of the expectations we set ourselves. One participant even argued, “Burnout is not a badge of honor.”

Susanna Seidl-Fox, program director for arts and culture at Salzburg Global Seminar, said, “Over 50 creative change-makers – from Tirana to Tokyo, from Buenos Aires to Baltimore, from New Orleans to Nairobi, and from Salzburg to Seoul and beyond – left this year’s YCI Forum inspired, energized and eager to engage with their 200 YCI colleagues around the world.

“Together they form the YCI Forum network, with its incredible potential for using creativity as an opportunity for societal transformation. Salzburg Global looks forward to supporting, expanding and empowering this dynamic network over the next five years.”

Click here to download and read the full report from this program.


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators V is part of a ten-year multi-year series. Last year's program was 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.

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Salzburg Global Fellow Delighted by Success and Promise of US Film Tour
Mariano Pozzi (center) with YCI Fellows Dan Price (left) and Ian Nunley (right)Mariano Pozzi (center) with YCI Fellows Dan Price (left) and Ian Nunley (right)
Salzburg Global Fellow Delighted by Success and Promise of US Film Tour
By: Oscar Tollast 

YCI alumnus brings new perspectives to audiences at screenings in Memphis and New Orleans

A US film tour designed by a Salzburg Global Fellow to highlight underrepresented groups and communities has been hailed a success.

Mariano Pozzi, a member of the YCI Buenos Aires Hub, held screenings at venues in Memphis and New Orleans.

Films included Argentine and Latin American titles and focused on topics such as access to safe water, renewable energies, women and children’s rights, and indigenous people of the Americas.

Pozzi, an image and sound designer from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), was supported by a travel scholarship, which was awarded by Salzburg Global Seminar and funded by The Kresge Foundation.

He worked alongside organizations including Indie Memphis and New Orleans Film Society (NOFS).

Indie Memphis promotes the making and screening of independent films using a weekly film series called “Indie Memphis Nights,” where it collaborates with artists, locates venues, and aids promotion.

NOFS, meanwhile, provided Pozzi with an all-access pass at the 29th New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) and managed the screening venue for Pozzi’s activity.

Pozzi said, “The successful tour consisted of four exhibits that were attended by about 150 people and established a foundation stone in a long-term collaboration with local organizations in each city.

“On the other hand, being a guest of the 29th NOFF allowed me to expand the search of film titles to invite their participation in the 18th International Human Rights Film Festival to be held in Buenos Aires in June 2019, including local productions from Memphis and New Orleans.

“From the Instituto Multimedia DerHumALC - IMD, the NGO where I work, we managed the screening copies, permits to screen them, fees, translations to English when needed, and the curatorship of the Tour selection.”

Pozzi is the technical coordinator and project developer of the International Human Rights Film Festival of Buenos Aires (FICDH) and the International Environmental Film Festival of Buenos Aires (FINCA). He attended the fourth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

Discussing how his participation at the Forum had influenced him, Pozzi said, “Definitely the YCI Forum took a central piece as a motivation for this project. We’ve been trying for a while to do some concrete activity in the US like these... When thinking of this possibility, knowing that two Fellows of my cohort could help me build strong bridges with two important film organizations in Memphis and New Orleans, was for sure the thing that put the idea of this project going on.”

During his trip, Pozzi was also able to build contacts and recruit titles for FICDH and FINCA.

Commenting on the goals of the program, Pozzi said, “In general terms, the project was successful and the objectives where met. There were fewer screenings than the originally intended, but the amount of film titles and audience met were the originally proposed. Every screening was successful, and the audience were outstandingly pleased by the title selection of films, that showed diversity and encouraged debate and reflection.

“The selection of titles had a special focus in underrepresented groups and communities, and one common outcome after each screening was hearing the audience was shocked to get to know some of the situations portrayed and reflect about them.”

Pozzi believes the project could be easily replicated and that Indie Memphis and NOFS would be interested in collaborating again.

He added, “In terms of the Buenos Aires YCI Hub I think my travel has opened the door for possible collaborations with these other cities. None of my Buenos Aires Fellows has been in Memphis or New Orleans before, so me being there opens the possibility of helping them and putting any of them in contact with people whom I’ve worked with and also new professional contacts I’ve made on this trip.

“In terms of the local communities of Memphis and New Orleans, I think that both film festivals and organizations are somehow and overall, USA - based on their selection of films and curatorship, forgetting sometimes that they have very big Latin-American communities as well in those cities. So, having me there bringing titles with a different angle and approach than the one they usually have for sure is collaborating with their diversity and awareness.

“As for the local YCI [Fellows] in there, I also think that for instance having a Fellow from Buenos Aires over broadened their horizons. Every Fellow I met there was a little shocked and amused of having me there, which I think it’s important to remember, especially [for] the North American Hubs that there are lots of other Fellows in the world to work with and that these kind of partnerships and collaborations are possible.”

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in “Hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

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Salzburg Global and AADF Host Change-Making and Civic Innovation Workshop
Participants of Salzburg Global and the Albanian American Development Foundation's one-day workshop (Photo: Patrick Shannon)Participants of Salzburg Global and the Albanian-American Development Foundation's one-day workshop (Photo: Patrick Shannon)
Salzburg Global and AADF Host Change-Making and Civic Innovation Workshop
By: Oscar Tollast 

Salzburg Global Fellows take part in one-day workshop in Tirana, Albania

A follow-up activity to the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators has helped deepen connections among cultural leaders in Tirana, Albania.

In March 2018, Salzburg Global and the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF), the sponsor of the Tirana YCI Hub, hosted an intensive one-day workshop for Tirana YCIs and other cultural actors from the region.

Participants looked at community-based change-making and civic innovation, primarily within the context of cultural heritage work in Albania.

Peter Jenkinson and Shelagh Wright facilitated the workshop. Together they helped participants explore how to move from “Me to We,” a concept inspired by Muhammad Ali’s famous poem.  

In addition to this concept, participants reflected on mechanisms which promote innovative approaches for the development of contemporary cultural activities and creative forms of entrepreneurship.

Susanna Seidl-Fox, program director for culture and the arts at Salzburg Global, said, “This workshop in Tirana served as an opportunity for Salzburg Global and the YCIs supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation to discuss community-based engagement in the arts and strategies for unlocking the potential of cultural heritage with cultural heritage specialists from across Albania.  

“The meeting was intensive and served to deepen connections among the Tirana YCIs who had attended the Salzburg YCI Forum in past years. In addition, cultural heritage professionals were introduced to the YCIs and their innovative ways of thinking, which will no doubt also spur innovation and new thinking in the cultural heritage sector in Albania.”

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in “Hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

The AADF is a not-for-profit organization which seeks to facilitate the development of a sustainable private sector economy and a democratic society in Albania and to contribute to stability in Southeastern Europe.

HIGHLIGHTS

Video recorded, produced and edited by Patrick Shannon, a member of the YCI Canada Hub

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Expanding Collaborations Within and Beyond Native Nations
From Left to right; Adrienne Benjamin, Amber Mathern, Alayna Eagle Shield, Lindsey Mae Willie, Christy Bieber (Giizhigad)From Left to right; Adrienne Benjamin, Amber Mathern, Alayna Eagle Shield, Lindsey Mae Willie, Christy Bieber (Giizhigad)
Expanding Collaborations Within and Beyond Native Nations
By: Anna Rawe 

Young Cultural Innovators from different Native Nations reflect on their heritage, inspiration, and challenges

In a letter introducing the Bush Foundation’s 2018 annual report on Native Nations Investments, Jenn Ford Reedy, the organization’s president, said, “We believe that the field of philanthropy can do better at acknowledging, celebrating and supporting Native nations and people.”

One way in which the Bush Foundation has already done so is by supporting the inclusion of young cultural innovators from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and 23 Native Nations at this year’s Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. This included Adrienne Benjamin, Alayna Eagle Shield, and Amber Mathern, who have become the latest members of the Upper Midwest USA YCI Hub.

With the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Salzburg Global also welcomed Lindsey Mae Willie, a filmmaker from the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation. Christy Bieber (Giizhigad), an Anishinaabe artist and cultural worker based in Southwest Detroit also attended the Forum with support from the Kresge Foundation, as Salzburg Global seeks to connect and empower a critical mass of creative change-makers across the world.

Alayna Eagle Shield is the health education director for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and is the chair of the Native American Development Center. Eagle Shield applied for the YCI Forum after hearing about it through the Bush Foundation, whose programs she had attended before. She felt it was an “amazing opportunity.”

Eagle Shield has recently focused much of her energy on a beading business which she runs with her mother. Her daughter has also started to get involved. She said, “[It gives] her this avenue that our people have used for centuries to be able to create and have a lifeway that way…  [and we] create beautiful works of art that our people can wear in resistance, that we’re still carrying on our traditions; we’re still able to wear our jewelry in modern days and meetings.”

Adrienne Benjamin (Amikogaabawiike) is a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) in central Minnesota. Her work is centered around taking pride in her heritage and encouraging others to do the same. Benjamin recently co-created a youth leadership program called Ge-niigaanizijig - The Ones Who Will Lead – where 25 young people received leadership and language mentoring.

Benjamin herself was mentored by a local elder and greatly values all she learned about the language, stories, and practices. She was brought up with a grandfather that still spoke the Ojibwe language and was exposed to some of her traditional Anishinaabe culture, something she is very aware that others did not.

She remains concerned about how “many youth grow up being unable to dream larger dreams outside of the reservation or even within because of a lack of access to arts, higher education, and information. There are very few if any arts and culture programs available that showcase Indigenous/Native American [culture] and celebrate our heritage in ways that make our community youth feel proud.”

As a participant at the YCI Forum, Benjamin said she valued the connections she made with other indigenous participants working in the cultural, education, and health sectors. She said, “It was nice to have that familiarity in such a foreign space, and because we all deal with similar issues with sovereignty, land-based issues, government recognition, and so on; it was a great place to have deeper discussions about those issues in a world lens.”

Throughout the program, participants learned how others had experienced similar challenges in their personal and professional lives. For Eagle Shield, the idea of treating herself as a “precious resource” particularly resonated as she struggles to balance her commitments.

How to best use your time was a concern shared by Amber Mathern, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who currently teaches at Northern State University. Outside of her teaching work she does freelance consulting, working with reservations on marketing analytics and auditing casinos. She said, “I always think ‘Oh I could be doing more… [sometimes I have to remind myself] no, [what I do] does make a difference whether it’s something small or big.”

The importance of being yourself as being a way of making change is important to Mathern. Living in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Mathern knows many there have never been to a reservation, which she suggests can lead to outdated views of what a Native American community is like.

Mathern said, “I remind myself that ‘Hey, maybe that’s why I ended up in Aberdeen, South Dakota’ around people who don’t know the culture because maybe that’s my opportunity and [the] reason for me being there is to help share that.”

It is in her work at Northern State University that Mathern feels she has the biggest impact, encouraging her students to think differently. What’s her ethos? She said, “Every single interaction - as minute as it might seem - at that moment it has an impact… and I don’t want to say in the future [my students will] make an impact; they’re making an impact right now.”

When thinking specifically about Native American youth Mathern suggests there is a need to learn both about their cultural heritage and learn how to cultivate a global mindset. She said, “A lot of times our children don’t get the chance to travel out of the state, even to travel across the United States… [I think it’s] important [that] we tell them ‘Oh you can do this; you can connect with people internationally.’”

Benjamin also praised the value of hearing from different voices.  She said, “I think that it is so valuable to understand that not everyone thinks like you, nor do they understand the world in the same context that you might, and to have the opportunity for discussion and understanding around that is truly what the world needs.”

Eagle Shield also thought participants understood each other and stood on the same level. She said, “Coming here and getting to meet people from all over the world… it wasn’t like the Oppression Olympics… So many people here at Salzburg Global are still very connected to their culture; they still speak their languages, they’re still fighting oppressive forces. There was no comparing, it was like a deep level of understanding that is just beautiful to me, and I really hope to be involved and facilitate these types of learning at home, too. There’s so much we can learn from each other even though we aren’t necessarily the same.”


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.

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Young Cultural Innovators - Regional Fellows Event, New Orleans
Young Cultural Innovators - Regional Fellows Event, New Orleans
By: Salzburg Global Seminar 

Report from the second US Regional Fellows Event of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI Forum) now online and available to download, read and share.

Young Cultural Innovators from Memphis, Detroit, and New Orleans were brought together for the second US Regional Fellows Event of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI Forum). 

In total, 27 YCIs from both the third (2016) and fourth (2017) Salzburg programs of the YCI Forum gathered in the Contemporary Arts Centre, New Orleans, April 7 to 9, 2018, thanks to generous support from the Kresge Foundation

Led by YCI Forum facilitators Amina Dickerson, Peter Jenkinson and Shelagh Wright, the two-day program focused on strengthening the network, through a series of discussions, workshops, site visits and interactive exercises. 

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.

YCI Forum is not a traditional professional development program about teaching or training, but is rather values-based than goals-based. While emphasizing the potential of YCIs as agents of change, the Regional Fellows Event encouraged the group to consider how they, within their city hubs, can think about creating systems-change. 

Susanna Seidl-Fox, Salzburg Global Program Director for Culture and the Arts 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.” 

Read the full report from this session now online.

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Young Cultural Innovators Depart Salzburg With a Smile
Participants and faculty of the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural InnovatorsParticipants and faculty of the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Young Cultural Innovators Depart Salzburg With a Smile
By: Oscar Tollast 

Fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators reaches a successful conclusion

Fifty cultural practitioners have left Salzburg emboldened, hopeful, and optimistic following the conclusion of the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

The five-day program came to an end on Sunday morning, as participants from 14 regions and cities departed for their next destination.

Participants spent the previous five days taking part in capacity building sessions focusing on human-centered design processes, communication, and leadership. They also took part in peer mentoring sessions and explored the local art scene in Salzburg.

On Friday evening, participants came together to perform in Schloss Leopoldskron’s Great Hall for the second incarnation of The Schloss is Alive. Audience members were treated to poetry, dance, live music, and improv.

The following day, participants took part in two final plenary sessions. Before discussions started, however, artist and muralist Phillip Simpson presented a canvas he had painted the previous evening. The “Smile" received a positive reaction from the group. Simpson invited his peers to add their signatures and messages to the painting, which he decided to gift to Salzburg Global.  

The first session of the day involved participants reflecting on the capacity building workshops they had taken part in and discussing the need for self-care.

Part of self-care is being able to ask for help, participants heard. Much of the damage we can inflict on ourselves is because of the expectations we set. One participant discussed how he felt like a “living contradiction.” He discussed doing 100 things at once in a space by himself with no staff. When others ask if there is anything they can do, he would reply, “I got it.” The reality was he didn’t. He said he needed to open up more upon returning home and learn it was not weak to ask for help.

Another participant reminded the group that self-care was a privilege and participants had to be conscious about the position they were in.

Burnout is not a badge of honor, one participant argued. It may feel as if you should change everything at once, but she suggested tackling one thing at a time to reduce the risk of being overwhelmed.

On Saturday afternoon, participants gave brief reports of their experiences in the peer mentoring groups and discussed what they had learned from one another. This year’s groups were facilitated by Marcos Amadeo, Toni Attard, Christine Gitau, and Hiroko Kikuchi.

Each of the facilitators enabled participants to feel vulnerable and connected. The peer mentoring groups acted as a safe space for participants to learn from one another and learn about themselves. For one participant, the peer mentoring exercise was the favorite part of their experience.

Following the group reports, the discussion focus turned to systems transformation. Participants were asked to consider the systems they were trying to change in each of their contexts.

Participants were told systems don’t transform overnight, and change is often incremental. One of the facilitators suggested transformation needed to be value-based and reminded participants of the values discussed at the beginning of the program: humor, empathy, transparency, generosity, courage, and humility.

At times, participants may feel frustrated about the systems they are fighting against. However, it is important to remember that there are people within these systems who also seek to make positive steps within communities. When possible, participants should look for connections which can be made where change can be achieved together.

Change is a learning process, but as Fellows of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, participants have incredible potential to transform communities, cities, and regions across the world.

As discussions came to a close, participants were asked to make a commitment to themselves. As a symbolic gesture, they were each given an acorn to take away once that commitment was made. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, after all.

Reflecting on the program, Susanna Seidl-Fox, program director for arts and culture at Salzburg Global Seminar, said, “Fifty creative changemakers – from Tirana to Tokyo, from Buenos Aires to Baltimore, from New Orleans to Nairobi, and from Salzburg to Seoul and beyond –  left this week’s YCI Forum inspired, energized, and eager to engage with their 200 YCI colleagues around the world. Together they form the YCI Forum network, with its incredible potential for using creativity as an opportunity for societal transformation. Salzburg Global looks forward to supporting, expanding, and empowering this dynamic network over the next five years.”


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.

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Czyka Tumaliuan - I Help Preserve Filipino Literature
WORD UP: In addition to her work as a writer, self-publisher, comics creator, poet, and archivist Czyka Tumaliuan is also working on the first VR-made art exhibit with Filipina artist Issay Rodriguez.WORD UP: In addition to her work as a writer, self-publisher, comics creator, poet, and archivist, Czyka Tumaliuan (center) is also working on the first VR-made art exhibit with Filipina artist Issay Rodriguez.
Czyka Tumaliuan - I Help Preserve Filipino Literature
By: Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu 

Book bar owner discusses giving authors a voice and why she is helping to create a digital library

“There [are] a lot of things that I do in the Philippines...” says Cyzka Tumaliuan, before listing the different areas her work takes her. She is a writer, self-publisher, comics creator, experimental poet, archivist, and open-source advocate.  She is also the founder and lead organizer of an independent, experience-driven book fair in Manila, the Philippines, called Komura.

However, she is perhaps more well known as the owner of Kwago, a bookstore in Manila that sells books and magazines. More appropriately, she describes Kwago - the Filipino word for “owl” - as a “book bar.” Tumaliuan says, “It has fiction-inspired coffee and cocktails. It allows me to make people drunk and force them to read,” she jokes.
Tumaliuan was among 50 participants who convened at Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria, for the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

“For the digital natives right now, they are not interested in reading. [But I am going to] name this drink after a local writer, and I will tell you about this writer. It allows me to share [Filipino culture] through taste,” Tumaliuan says.

There is a “Hemingway” drink, inspired by the American writer Ernest Hemingway and the “Dark Hours” drink inspired by a book of the same name by Filipino writer Conchitina Cruz, whom Tumaliuan describes as a massive influence for her taking up experimental poetry.

In college, Tumaliuan says she was depressed and “didn’t know what to do” but Cruz’s works, written in her native Filipino language, saved her.

This unique business model keeps Kwago financially afloat. The shop deals in books considered commercially inviable or politically controversial by much larger outlets. Tumaliuan says, “In bigger bookstores, they can’t make money out of it, so they don’t support it, but for [Kwago], we support each other in the community, so it is a reader-based model.”

In a recent interview with CNN Philippines Life, Tumaliuan said, “I also read [the books] and actually, I am their first customer.” Kwago has attracted attention all over the world. In a profile piece by Rappler.com, Tumaliuan said the project was about human connections. She said, “The physical space allows you to connect, and that’s more important, khait hindi ka bumili ng book (even if you don’t buy a book).”

The books are mostly self-published by little known and experimental writers in the Philippines who without Kwago would have no opportunity to share their work with the wider populace.

Since opening in 2017, Kwago has transformed from a simple bookstore into a safe space for up and coming spoken word artists, musicians, and independent zine makers to display their craft in a welcoming atmosphere.

In recent times, however, Kwago is not the only thing occupying Tumaliuan’s already busy mind. She is involved in the arduous task of digitizing to preserve classic Filipino language literature. “Print is dying,” she says and “we have a lot of literature written in dialects in the Philippines.” Without scanning these books page after page with her friends, she fears some of these books and the languages they are written in will simply go out of existence.

“Kopya means copy in Filipino, and basically we are creating a digital library of Filipino literature by manually scanning them and putting it in a [computer program].” These books are inaccessible to a lot of people but with a small team Tumaliuan is scanning to preserve them for future generations and for free. She says, “I really believe that knowledge should be free...”


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.

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Hot Topic - Young Cultural Innovators Discuss First Step Toward Transforming Systems
Young Cultural Innovators discuss the first steps toward transforming systems in their cities and regionsYoung Cultural Innovators discuss the first steps toward transforming systems in their cities and regions
Hot Topic - Young Cultural Innovators Discuss First Step Toward Transforming Systems
By: Anna Rawe 

Young Cultural Innovators discuss first steps toward transforming systems in their cities and regions

A select number of Fellows at the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators were asked: What is the first step toward transforming systems? We have published their answers below.

"I think the thing we consider injustice… [is that] in Taiwan not many people understand how important South East Asia is. It’s been a long time that we ignore people there, we do not understand the potential there… I think what we’re doing is a platform for a connection to exchange, and we want to actually support the people in Taiwan who are artists or cultural practitioners who have ideas to build up a bridge, to support and exchange. I’m not saying that Taiwan is okay now because there is injustice… and we ignore the talent and art in those countries… we either underestimate the potential or think of [them as exotic], but either way, I think the only solution is to build up more and more connections and make people know it’s possible for us to collaborate together… I’m not saying its efficient or we expect to achieve something right away because we are a really new NGO… I think it’s impossible when you see an injustice to say ‘Okay, I can solve it.’ That’s a good thought but not very realistic. When you fight prejudice for [the] long-term, the first thing is that we offer people [the] opportunity to observe, to participate… to build up a dialogue that would be [the first step].”

Patty Chan, Taiwan

Program officer at the Mekong Cultural Hub

"I think it would be education - education in the direction of opening minds… what scares me… as a piano teacher I see kids younger and younger using iPads, they’re using cell phones, and I see them coming to piano lessons with the smartphone, putting it away, playing piano, taking the smartphone [out again] after everything, which makes children have a really two-dimensional view of the world… As a musician, the sound we listen to has less and less quality… and somehow we get used to it… for [young people’s] education just looking at things is really primordial, really important… I try to do what I can with the kids I work with to open their eyes and ears… but I think it’s the first step to also question the things we see on Facebook, on the Internet, to question… we have to really get active, and these smartphones are really our first enemy.”

Matthias Leboucher, Salzburg

Musician and co-founder of New Art and Music Ensemble Salzburg (NAMES)

“[The] first step to changing systems I see as unfair [is] identifying them. Not a definition but really trying to understand what’s unfair about it and to who and how that reflects [onto] everybody’s life and then awareness raising. People need to understand that something is not just the way it is, but it’s really unfair and might change, and just acknowledging that you can change something eventually would lead to [change]. It’s like an empowerment; you understand that you have that power to improve things that you once took for granted.”

Anisa Lloja, Tirana

Program staff at Cultural Heritage without Borders Albania; co-founder of Nji-Mar, Nji Mrapsht

"We’ve already had a couple of other Memphis Hub people here that have collaborated and [are] working together, so trying to find ways to kind of push that outwards, and maybe intersectionally. Everything in Memphis is extremely black and white issue based. We’re trying to find ways to include other struggles in the one that we have already, and I guess maybe bridge divides that way because I don’t know if that’s been done. It’s always black organizations… how do we include as many narratives in our, I guess, bigger goal? … The collaboration is what I’m most interested in.”

Victoria Jones, Memphis

Executive director at The CLTV Collective


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.

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Hot Topic - Young Cultural Innovators Discuss How They Have Been Expanding Collaborations
Young Cultural Innovators discuss how they have been expanding collaborations within their workYoung Cultural Innovators discuss how they have been expanding collaborations within their work
Hot Topic - Young Cultural Innovators Discuss How They Have Been Expanding Collaborations
By: Anna Rawe 

Young Cultural Innovators discuss how they have been expanding collaborations within their work

A select number of Fellows at the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators were asked: How have you expanded collaboration in your own work? We have published their answers below.

“[At our magazine Conventillo Babel] we try to help migrants to preserve their roots and be part of society. So, the main [way we are collaborating] is showing all the activities they are doing in their society and supporting them in different ways. Sometimes we go and have some Spanish classes with them, we practice with them, just informal conversations. We show the activities they are going to do or have done sometimes. We are a channel to advertise what they are doing – presentations or performances or anything they are doing. The way is to keep in touch with them to enrich the local culture. Many times people from Argentina, from Buenos Aires… don’t realize that our culture is made by a mixture of contributions. [Conventillo Babel] is a win-win project, enriching local culture and letting immigrants and their descendants preserve their culture and be part of the society. [It] embodies the ideals of tolerance, building a better society there in Buenos Aires City…”

Gabriel Costa, Buenos Aires

Journalist and director of Conventillo Babel

“In terms collaborating with community, I’ve done a lot of public outreach to civic institutions like schools, community centers, youth centers, senior homes, different kinds of programs like that to collaborate… to make artistic projects. Typically, I’ve worked with non-actors, kind of with everyday people who are interested in working on an interesting artistic project… in terms of work how… I find people to collaborate with… I think that’s kind of a question I’m asking myself. Part of what’s really valuable for me being here is I think I feel very isolated in Canada because it’s a very big country, and there’s not a lot of practitioners across the country doing really socially engaged work. We don’t have a huge population, and I live in a very isolated community now. So… how do I do that? I don’t have the answer yet but I think this is a really valuable experience… and something I really need to make a conscious effort to do more of and to attend more kind of conferences and events where you can meet people doing similar work.”

Jenna Winter, Canada

General Manager of Gwaandak Theatre and managing producer of Nakai Theatre

“I work in the fields of museums, which is [a] field I’m really really keen [about], and I’ve been in the field for almost five years now. What I like about my job, apart from the fact I’m in charge of the communication, setting up exhibitions etc., is basically the educational program. I think this one of the most important investments a museum can make. I see that relating to other participants who have their educational organizations or are in charge of educational events, so I think this will be one of the most commons fields which I can collaborate with other participants in setting up some common [educational projects during] where we could share our initiatives or our ideas which can then be integrated into various activities which can come from this.”

Tereza Çuni, Tirana

Head of communication and promotion at Marubi National Museum of Photography


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.

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There’s More to Salzburg than Classical Music
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE: Salzburg has been a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. It is considered a city of “outstanding value to humanity.”THE HILLS ARE ALIVE: Salzburg has been a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. It is considered a city of “outstanding value to humanity.”
There’s More to Salzburg than Classical Music
By: Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu 

Newest YCI Salzburg Hub members reflect on their experiences in one of Europe’s cultural capitals

Wolfgang Mozart, the Salzburg Festival, and The Sound of Music. These are several of the things that might come to mind when one thinks about Salzburg. There's so much more to the city, however, if one looks hard enough.

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators has recently welcomed four new members to its Salzburg YCI Hub, none of whom were born in the area but have since made it their new home.

These cultural practitioners have come from France, Italy, Romania and elsewhere in Austria to set up shop in one of Europe's cultural capitals. Speaking at the fifth program of the YCI Forum, each spoke with Salzburg Global about their impressions of the city.

Irina Paraschivoiu is a researcher and urban development official. She previously worked as a curator for Bucharest's 'Capital of Culture' bid in her homeland of Romania. Reflecting on Salzburg, she said, "It is a very rich city. It has a very rich history that you can feel everywhere you go whether it is a cultural event or just having a walk."

LonelyPlanet.com describes Salzburg as "the stuff of fairytales" and is flocked to by tourists throughout the year. Top attractions include the Festung Hohensalzburg, Schloss Mirabell, and Mozart's birthplace - to name a few.

Does that history overshadow newer things happening in the area? Perhaps. Paraschivoiu says, "I think, for sure, [Salzburg] would benefit from having more space for innovation and for young people to express themselves and be part of the cultural scene."

Stefano Mori, another of the new Salzburg YCIs, shares a similar view. Mori, an architect from Italy, moved to Salzburg to learn about earth architecture, which involves building with natural materials.

He says, “Everyone has an image of the city, a certain expectation of the city and that is why this city, I think, is conservative... When you have something so strong from a cultural point, you are always a bit afraid of losing it or changing it too much and in the end losing it.

"It is actually a very common behavior - when you have something valuable and you know the value already, you are not going to experiment or change it because you always have the fear of losing what you have for something you are not sure of.”

This mindset could be beginning to change, according to Katharina Kapsamer, a visual artist and cultural manager. Kapsamer is one of the new Salzburg YCIs who was born in Austria. She is based between Salzburg and Vienna.

She says, "Salzburg is actually buzzing with creative people especially the ones who are younger and still pursuing studies, and they are very eager to collaborate...”

The city is full of dancers, writers, authors, theater people, and visual artists. Kapsamer says several cultural initiatives are working to find more space in the city for creation, which means the spotlight is no longer just on classical music.

However, Kapsamer admits, "In a city that is so rich in history and cultural heritage, it is quite difficult to really get there... you kind of feel like if you really want to make [it] your own, you kind of like have to take it from someone else.”

One person who is trying to make the situation easier is Matthias Leboucher, co-founder of the New Art and Music Ensemble Salzburg (NAMES). Leboucher, from France, is working to create a space for new artforms.

He came to Salzburg to study for his Master's in composition. While the city is more familiar with classical compositions, Leboucher's forte concerns contemporary music. He believes Salzburg is a nice city for the arts "in general," but he hopes to encourage Salzburgers to experience the joys of modern music as well.

Leboucher says, “I hope to create concerts in this field of music that moves people, that really bring people and a larger audience and that people take a bit more risk for things they don’t know.”


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.

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YCI Forum - Let's Expand Collaborations
Salzburg Global believes in fostering lasting networks and partnerships for creative, just and sustainable changeSalzburg Global believes in fostering lasting networks and partnerships for creative, just and sustainable change
YCI Forum - Let's Expand Collaborations
By: Oscar Tollast 

Fellows discuss their experiences - good and bad - of collaborating with others and the significance of cross-sectoral work

One of the three strategic aims for Salzburg Global Seminar is to expand collaborations and foster laster networks and partnerships for creative, just, and sustainable change. Participants of the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators were reminded of the benefits of working with others midway through this year’s program.

Participants were asked to consider several questions. What are the characteristics of good and bad collaboration? To what extent do YCIs already engage in cross-sectoral work? How can the cultural sector engage more actively in cross-sectoral collaboration? What are some of the barriers to success and how can they be overcome?

In the opening session of the program, participants talked about the perception of themselves and others and how often they can be wrong. They talked about the values they work with, particularly empathy and the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Participants were reminded to consider their relationship with power and their own place within existing structures.

“We think that power is a zero-sum game… but it isn’t. Power is like love,” one facilitator remarked. The more we give to others, the more powerful we become. In a pre-program questionnaire, 90 percent of respondents said it was important to collaborate across sectors, while 75 percent said they were doing this already.

On Friday morning, participants were asked to consider bad collaborations they had experienced. They were then asked by facilitators to put forward a word or phrase to describe them. Participants spoke about egos, insecurity, inequality, control, unreliability, selfishness, corruption, greed, and miscommunication. The group also heard how a difference of values and hidden agendas had led to bad experiences.

After this exercise, participants were asked to think about a positive collaboration they had been involved in. These experiences involved good communication, win-win situations, enthusiasm, empathy, respect, openness, shared values and language, flexibility, accountability, and a mutual understanding between all parties.

Participants were invited to talk about their experiences in more detail. One participant said he had two experiences, one which worked and one which didn’t. He collaborated with an architect which didn’t work. He had the funds but the conversation started with, “When do you need this by?” Not “What is the project?”

In his other collaboration, he worked with a university department. The conversation started with the outcome and what both parties wanted to achieve. Both parties shared a purpose and wanted to achieve something at the same time.

Another participant, meanwhile, spoke about a time in his life where he was desperate for help and desperate to work with other people. This led him to believe sacrifices had to be made when opening his arms to others. However, he had a self-realization. He told participants, “Be careful with what you sacrifice in the name of collaboration.” As a group, participants were reminded by one facilitator that “no one has perfect collaboration skills. Every relationship is different.”

Participants were then pointed toward examples of collaborations involving YCIs from previous programs. This included Kleidi Eski, who has recently helped devise a campaign with others and produced a music video to save the Valbona and Vjosa Rivers.

Make friends with strange people beyond stigma. That was the message put forward to this year’s participants. One facilitator said, “I think this is the only way we can go and faster.”

It is important to reach out and have conversations with others you think you never can. An example used to highlight this involved a “shy and retiring” man from the countryside in the United Kingdom. Every month he would make a trip to the city and smile at 20 people he didn’t know. He would then count how many smiles he received in return, whether that be four, six, eight, or zero.

Participants were reminded that they are now a part of the YCI Forum’s ever-growing network, which now includes more than 250 people. In addition to their city/region hubs, they are encouraged to draw upon the experience, talents, and knowledge of all YCI alumni.

If that isn’t enough, they are also members of the Salzburg Global Fellowship, which includes thousands of Fellows from multiple sectors, regions, and backgrounds. The potential for cross-sectoral collaboration is strong.

Alone we may go faster, but together we go further. As cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”


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.

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Hot Topic - How Do Young Cultural Innovators Help Bridge Divides in Their Communities?
Salzburg Global Fellows reveal what divides exist in their cities and regions and how their work helps bridge themSalzburg Global Fellows reveal what divides exist in their cities and regions and how their work helps bridge them
Hot Topic - How Do Young Cultural Innovators Help Bridge Divides in Their Communities?
By: Anna Rawe 

Salzburg Global Fellows reveal what divides exist in their cities and regions and how their work helps bridge them

A select number of Fellows at the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators were asked: What divides exist in your city/region and how does your work help bridge divides? We have published their answers below.

“In my region there are divides… that are geographic in terms of the divides between the downtown core and the suburbs in Toronto, which is where I live. Those geographic divides are also representative of other divides like income, racial, cultural… so the city, although it is diverse, it’s also divided up so that that diversity often seems quite segmented. I think my work is about looking at those divides and that segmentation and seeing the innovation that happens in areas that are not part of the downtown core. A lot of resources and attention tend to go in the core of the city but not that much to the outer areas, and I grew out in a community that’s in one of those outer areas, so I really believe in cultivating the work that’s being done out there...”

Alyssa Fearon, Canada
Curator at the
Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Brandon, Manitoba

“There’s a lot of things going on right now back home about fake news and the government, so I think there’s a clear divide between those who support the government and those who actually oppose them. That’s one of the biggest problems we’re facing right now because there’s a lot of propaganda and political manipulation when it comes to information and communication of things. I think for us at the Design Studio we try to have different government agencies and NGOs to try to communicate their messages properly and to try to help them build a better strategy when it comes to saying things more clearly. It’s because these are the times that we actually need to properly address our causes, what we fight for, and the truth, more than anything else… so that’s what we try to help with...”

Reymart Cerin, Manila
Creative director at The Public School Manila Branding & Design Studio

“We have no places for gatherings, we have art centers, museums, exhibitions but for just a small gathering we don’t have a lot of spaces, so we tried to [renovate] abandon places like a senior citizen center, or a community hall or a public office, it’s really hard to find a good place to gather. Another challenge… because it’s the countryside everybody is too busy to have an arts education… To bridge the divide we [also] have to think about the poor people or disabled people, connecting to them to have them enjoy the arts, [so they aren’t] alienated from the arts. Our foundation has moving trucks which go to the mountainous areas or to the fishing villages. We go there and have performances and a moving exhibition system, so they can enjoy the arts for free... Another system is art vouchers, which is when poor people have to buy a book or go to a performance or an exhibition, the cost is really high so we have a discount, like 50%, which is 70 euros for one year, which is not that much but it helps them to have an opportunity to enjoy the arts.”

Namhee Joo, Seoul
Program manager at Chungnam Arts & Culture Foundation

“In my country there is not a different way of thinking - these kinds of things. They are very interesting people that are always searching for something new or something that can make diversity... We are one of the most peaceful countries because we live happily in what we trust and what religion we are.”

Anisa Papajani, Tirana
Senior sales account executive at Vodafone

“We have performances against bullying, on recycling, on emotions and how your reaction to things can affect other people, so I think that is one way that we are trying to bridge this idea of performance being only for the national theatre, the baroque stage kind of thing, to bring arts to everyone...”

Dorian Mallia, Malta
Artistic director at Moveo Dance Company


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.

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YCI Forum - Knowing What You Do, Designing For Your User, and Being a Leader
Participants are taking part in workshops led by Arundhati Ghosh, Adam Molyneux-Berry, and Amina DickersonParticipants are taking part in workshops led by Arundhati Ghosh, Adam Molyneux-Berry, and Amina Dickerson
YCI Forum - Knowing What You Do, Designing For Your User, and Being a Leader
By: Oscar Tollat 

Facilitators at YCI Forum reveal what participants can expect to learn during capacity-building workshops

A fixture of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators over recent years has been a series of capacity-building workshops designed to help participants take their next steps forward in their lives.

This year’s program is no exception. Participants will receive advice from three experienced facilitators on different aspects of their work, all three of them having attended programs at Schloss Leopoldskron previously.

Adam Molyneux-Berry, an award-winning social entrepreneur and ecosystem builder, is returning to Salzburg for the third time. He is leading a workshop titled “Principles of Self-Organization.”

He said, “What we have noticed over the last few years at the YCI [Forum] is that one of the highest requirements [participants] will have when they come into the program is funding. They all say that they are looking for funding. I kind of don’t agree with that... What they actually need is people power.

“What this session is about is how they can leverage the strengths that they each have to solve their problems before the money stage, and then get to a point where when they do receive money, they are actually ready to take that money and do something useful with it.”

Amina Dickerson, president of Dickerson Global Advisors, meanwhile, will explore the culturally diverse concepts of leadership with participants.

She said, “My workshop is about leadership values and vision. It’s really to help the Fellows focus on what their own style of leadership is, what values undergird that, and how they can best prepare themselves for the long arc of their careers with thoughtfulness and intention about how they lead, what it is that is their compelling purpose in leading and then what resources and skills they need to do that in the best way they can.

“I think particularly in this time, it is very, very important for leaders to understand what motivates people, what are the tools that they need to really have impact in the world and to be, as many of them have said, authentic leaders.”

Arundhati Ghosh, executive director at the India Foundation for the Arts, will be guiding participants on how to communicate the value of their work. She said, “The first part of the session is going to be an understanding of communicating stories and how stories are built around why you do what you do and the people they serve.

“But the second part of the session will be more focused on, ‘How do you then take the story and make it work for those that you are seeking resources from?’ It could be funding, it could be partnerships, it could be collaborations...”


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.

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Rocio Rapoport - I Help Empower Women With Music
Rocio Rapoport at Salzburg Global Seminar - Rapoport started her career as a singer and main composer in rock and fusion bands, among other stylesRocio Rapoport at Salzburg Global Seminar - Rapoport started her career as a singer and main composer in rock and fusion bands, among other styles
Rocio Rapoport - I Help Empower Women With Music
By: Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu 

Musician discusses the Blazar Project and making women more visible in the music industry

“I was a feminist even before I knew I was a feminist… [because as a child] I didn’t know the word existed,” says Rocio Rapoport, an Argentinian musician specializing in experimental pop.

Women are undervalued in the music industry, says Rapoport, speaking as a participant of the fifth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. She puts this down to the “sustained power of men” in the industry with women enjoying very little or no visibility. “Women in history have done a lot of things, but they have not had the same level of visibility [as men],” Rapoport says forthrightly.

To tackle this issue, Rapoport cofounded Blazar in 2014. Taking its name inspiration from an astronomical phenomenon that produces a high energy force, she describes Blazar as “a communion of women artists with the goal of creating better opportunities for women in the music industry.” The collective is now made up of 12 musicians of diverse genres including rock, jazz, electronic music, experimental music, and Argentina’s folklore genre.

To ensure women gain more acknowledgment for their work, Blazar aims to get more women on and off the stage at music festivals. Although many festivals are attended by roughly an equal percentage of women and men or sometimes more women than men, the stage has eluded many female acts thus far. A BBC analysis of posters of the UK’s nine biggest music festivals found that 77% of the 756 acts advertised were male in 2018. Rapoport reckons the situation is no different in Argentina and the wider region of Latin America and Spain. Offstage, Blazar also hopes to help groom a cadre of women technicians, producers and festival organizers to ensure that there is gender equality in all aspects of the music business.

Another objective of Blazar is to help establish creative collaborations between and among female musicians. For many years, female musicians have been portrayed as rivals, forced into competition with each other for the limited space the music industry has carved out for them. Instead of pitching their music and personalities against each other, Rapoport and her commune of artists work on collaborations among themselves and with those outside the group. “We need to break that idea [that women cannot work together] … so that we can be more strong together, to achieve together...”

While many Latin American countries including, until recently Argentina, have had women at the apex of political leadership, a culture of “machismo” persists. “I love Cristina [Fernández de Kirchner],” Rapoport proclaims, “but so many people hate her for being a woman. They criticize how she dresses; they say ‘she talks too much.’ If it was a man that will not be important.” She also talks about the glass ceiling and the gender pay gap in the music industry.

The 33-year-old hopes that with her work with Blazar, she can help remove stereotypical notions of women and achieve greater rights for women. She has been prominent in the fight to legalize abortion in Argentina. So many women have died because they resorted to backstreet clinics and unsafe methods
to terminate pregnancies, she says. As such, Rapoport uses her music to speak out about women’s rights and advocate for social justice issues such as racism and LGBT rights.

Where does Rapoport hope to be in five years? She says, “I hope that Blazar will not really need to exist and thatthere will be no reason for me to make music to empower women."


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.
 

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YCI Forum - Bridging Divides on a Global Scale
Participants in discussion in the Robison Gallery at Schloss LeopoldskronParticipants in discussion in the Robison Gallery at Schloss Leopoldskron
YCI Forum - Bridging Divides on a Global Scale
By: Oscar Tollast 

Participants discuss the contexts within which they work, the divides that exist in their cities and regions, and how they can be bridged

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.