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Young Cultural Innovators

Making the World Better and Beautiful Through Collaboration
Jaimie (Joo Im) Moon
Making the World Better and Beautiful Through Collaboration
Oscar Tollast 
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."
Confronting Resistance and Change Through Poetry
Soila Kenya 
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 Kapsamer
From Asia to Austria and Back Again: Building Creative Networks Across the Globe
Oscar Tollast 
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 Godman
Julién Godman: Detroit to Salzburg - Travel to Find Our Light Departing
Julién Godman 
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
Maria Galea: No Big Words Can Describe This Experience
Maria Galea 
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)
Carl Atiya Swanson: Damn Good Advice for Being At Home in the World
Carl Atiya Swanson 
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
The Art of Dialog in a Time of Rapid Change
Claire Kidwell 
“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)
Fostering Connections Across a Vast Land
Claire Kidwell 
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 Unsplash
Shaping a Better World Through Cultural Innovation
Claire Kidwell 
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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