YCI » Overview

 

Young innovators in the culture and arts sector are providing some of the most imaginative new impulses for social improvement and sustainable development around the world today. They change the way we see and interact with each other. Young artists, creative entrepreneurs and  cultural leaders demonstrate  the  creative  vision,  talent, and  energy  that  our  societies  so  desperately  need  to  meet  the challenges of the 21st century.

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI) is a ten-year project launched by Salzburg Global Seminar in 2014 to engage fifty of the world's most dynamic young creative changemakers every year.

The young cultural innovators join the annual Forum in Salzburg from “YCI hubs” in six regions of the world to help them develop the dynamic vision, entrepreneurial skills, and global networks needed to advance their organizations, their causes and their communities. The YCI Forum represents a major commitment by Salzburg Global Seminar to fostering creative innovation and entrepreneurship worldwide with the intention of building a more vibrant and resilient arts sector and of advancing sustainable economic development, positive social change agendas, and urban transformation worldwide. 

Upcoming Session in 2017:

Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV
October 14 to 19, 2017

Peter Jenkinson and Shelagh Wright
in conversation about the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators


 


Gerhard Feldbacher Returns to Salzburg Global with Mobile Tea House
Feldbacher (right) taking part in a tea ceremony with the fellows of the fourth YCI forum in the flying tea house. Photo by Heinz Holzmann
Gerhard Feldbacher Returns to Salzburg Global with Mobile Tea House
Mirva Villa 
For three years, Gerhard Feldbacher had been playing with the idea of a mobile tea house. The simple, geometric shapes and lightness of traditional Japanese houses had fascinated the Austrian designer and architect for a long time. The final push to make the project a reality came after Feldbacher offered to finish the tea house to be used at the fourth session of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. Feldbacher attended the YCI Forum the previous year and had an “intense” experience. “I thought [the mobile tea house] would be nice as a communication place,” Feldbacher says. “By offering it to Salzburg Global, I wanted also to oblige myself to finally do it.” The tea house consists of white paper walls, woven tatami mats and a fireplace. The sunken hearth is the focal point of the house. Above the fire, the teapot is hung from a jizaikagi - a small hook adorned with a fish sculpture. Feldbacher ordered the jizaikagi from an antique shop in Tokyo. It’s thought to be more than a century old. The fish and blue fireplace tiles symbolize water and are meant to protect the paper house from catching fire. The flying tea house can be put together in a matter of hours, and it is light for a house, weighing less than 300 kilograms. The lightness was another aspect that interested the architect. “I made another mobile house some years ago which is 10,000 kilograms,” Feldbacher says. “Three hundred kilograms is nothing compared to that.”Once Feldbacher had his mind set on making the tea house, it took three months to complete. The architect had expected the delicate paper walls to require the most work, but the roof ended up being the most difficult part to build. He says, “It had to be stable, but also very light because the whole thing sits on a trailer.” During the fourth session of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, several participants used the tea house as a meeting place to work on their projects. One group stayed so long, Feldbacher had to politely ask them to leave at the end of the day. “I had to actually kick them out of the tea house because I had to cover it for the night, so that was a nice compliment,” Feldbacher laughs. One of the participants from Japan held a traditional tea ceremony in the tea house, which other YCI participants attended. In addition to Schloss Leopoldskron, the flying tea house has also appeared at the Hallein-based arts festival Schmiede. Feldbacher is looking forward to seeing what else the tea house will be used for in the future, whether that’s as a stage for performances or a place to stay for travelers. In the immediate future, the tea house will travel the Salzkammergut region in the spring and feature at street art festivals in the summer. To improve the tea ceremony experience, Feldbacher plans to make binchō-tan, a type of hardwood charcoal. He says, “It’s visually very nice and difficult to get here in Europe. I want to do that coal by myself as a part of the ceremony.” The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.
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Minneapolis YCIs Organize a Skills Sharing Workshop to Address Housing Issues in Low-Income Neighborhoods
Minneapolis YCIs Organize a Skills Sharing Workshop to Address Housing Issues in Low-Income Neighborhoods
Mirva Villa 
Passionate to bring about discussion on the issues related to land use in the city of Minneapolis, Salzburg Global Fellows Chaun Webster and Carla Schleicher set about creating a workshop bringing together local communities. A group of 30 participants from multi-racial and indigenous working class communities came together to develop skills, share knowledge, and produce creative strategies to address the local challenges in housing by creating alternative economic models.North Minneapolis, Webster and Schleicher explain, is a densely-populated historically black neighborhood that has faced decades of divestment. More recently, however, there have been sharp increases in housing costs while wages remain stagnant. This has led to an “extreme number” of evictions. Notably, the rising number of evictions is hitting the low-income neighborhoods in Minneapolis the hardest, with many families either being displaced from their homes or having to spend too much of their income on housing expenses, by the federal standard.Both Webster and Schleicher attended the third meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016, where Webster together with New Orleans YCI Imani Jacqueline Brown facilitated a breakout session to encourage the YCI fellows to think about development in the context of their own backgrounds. Titled “Development Without Displacement,” the breakout session encouraged discussion around how working class communities could be empowered creatively to engage with land use issues affecting them. The discussion was framed by the work of American Studies scholar, Bench Ansfield, on development as an extension of colonial logic.Building on the themes of the breakout session, Webster and Schleicher created a day-long workshop titled ‘Development Without Displacement: Skill Building & Knowledge Share,” held in May 2017. The project was made possible thanks to YCI project funds provided to Salzburg Global Seminar by the McKnight Foundation. Nia Umoja, from a grassroots neighborhood collective called Cooperative Community of New West Jackson, came to lead the session, which saw the participants develop their views on cooperation through discussion and group exercises.A report about this project, authored by Webster and Schleicher said, “These exercises were points of tension and conversation as we thought through the rapid growth Minneapolis is facing and the extreme number of evictions that North Minneapolis has undergone that coincides with the lack of affordability and stagnant wages.”The intense five-hour workshop allowed the group to think about next steps for Minneapolis, with the discussion ranging from just causes for eviction laws to banking accountability and electoral strategy for the municipal elections in November 2017. The report continued: “The feedback that we got was that the space was rich with vision and was an important connecting point. The convening also functioned to do some important work in deepening the relationship between West Jackson and North Minneapolis and we are in the process of envisioning a Mississippi River Connection Network that would enable continued knowledge and skills sharing to take place.”For more information about the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, please click here.
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Young Cultural Innovator Includes Max Reinhardt Mirror in Art Installation
The Coming to See exhibition is taking place at the Salzburger Kunstverein until November 26 (Picture: Annelies Senfter)
Young Cultural Innovator Includes Max Reinhardt Mirror in Art Installation
Salzburg Global Seminar 
Salzburg Global Fellow Annelies Senfter included a mirror that once belonged to Max Reinhardt in her first art installation. The antique, recently acquired by Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron and Salzburg Global Seminar, was loaned to Senfter to be used in her Coming to See exhibition, which took place at the Salzburger Kunstverein between October 13 and November 26. The installation included a collection of acorns from Schloss Leopoldskron, which were spread out in the Kabinett space. Completing the display was a photo of another antique mirror once owned by Reinhardt. Senfter, a visual artist who lives and works in Salzburg, attended the third meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators last year. Describing Senfter’s work, the Salzburger Kunstverein said, “Annelies Senfter’s work is situated between photography, research, and poetic investigation, and investigating notions of memory and trauma. Her work resonates with an urge to uncover repressed subjects without stirring up negative sentiments. “Thus this exhibition brings together these few elements, including the artist’s photographic work, to take a glance back 100 years and weigh upon not only the time caught between that moment and ours but also to weigh upon the immediacy of our collective present. Surviving through all that time is art, the great and pure mirror upon which we as a people may gaze. And if we choose not to gaze at this reflection, the reflection is still produced for others to see, nonetheless.” Speaking to Salzburg Global, Senfter said, “This project belongs to another bigger project I started in 2014. I did a lot of research on sites in Salzburg the Nazis took away during World War Two, such as parks and gardens. I started with Schloss Leopoldskron. “I started collecting leaves from elder trees, trees which were planted before World War Two happened – like all the trees here at Schloss Leopoldskron. I collected the leaves and then made a botanical collection…. I combined it with the story of the building.” These stories and leaves appeared in Senfter’s Asking the Trees project, which also included leaves collected from Villa Zweig and Villa Trapp. While continuing with this project, Senfter received an invitation from the Salzburger Kunstverein to put on an exhibition. She said, “I thought, ‘Okay, if the name of this exhibition (room) is Kabinett, maybe I should do something with a mirror. I did photographs of mirrors here because to Max Reinhardt, of course, mirrors were important. He was a theater man. Mirrors are important to create certain atmospheres.” Ahead of the exhibition, Senfter returned to Schloss Leopoldskron to view Reinhardt’s mirrors in the Venetian Room and his former office. It was during this visit she was offered the chance to use one of Reinhardt’s former mirrors that had been recently acquired from the hotel. The mirror is an original piece, crafted by a Berlin carpenter around the beginning of the 20th century. It previously hung at the palace nearly one hundred years ago. Carved out of coniferous, the mirror is silver- and gold-plated. Senfter said, “I’m really thankful that the Schloss was so supportive with the mirror because I know that they just bought it this summer, and I’m taking it away for six weeks. I really appreciate that, and I’m thankful for it.” Fellows from the fourth meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators surprised Senfter by coming to the exhibition’s opening. Having attended the Forum in 2016, Senfter described the experience as “breathtaking” and something which had helped her with her projects. She said, “Very often I’ve heard of things we were talking about, like being brave, going forward, going to places you’ve never been before, doing something new – something you don’t know if it will out or not. “Take the risk that if something is not working out, you will survive. If you never try, you will never know. This was very, very helpful if you’re working in the arts because it’s always something new. You never know what’s going to happen or you never know if it will work out. You can just say, ‘Okay, if I’m lucky, it will work out. If not, okay. This is what it is. I will do the next thing.’”  WATCH: Annelies Senfter speaking in 2016 on developing projects in an intuitive way Annelies Senfter took part in The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016. The list of our partners for this session and further information can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/569
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Kristina Borg – “I’m always interested in encouraging the people I work with to become co-creators, not just participants”
Kristina Borg at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Kristina Borg – “I’m always interested in encouraging the people I work with to become co-creators, not just participants”
Mirva Villa 
People and community are at the very center of Kristina Borg’s work. Through her career as an independent visual artist and arts educator, she has supported people in creating their own art and has invited others to take part in her art projects.“I’m interested in working with specific groups of people, different communities… People brought together either because of a particular place they come from, like their town or city, or particular working place,” Borg tells Salzburg Global, speaking at the fourth meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.“I’m always interested in encouraging the people I work with to become co-creators, not just participants,” Borg says. Her deep interest in bringing art to ordinary people’s reach and creating a dialogue is evident in one of her latest projects, You Are What You Buy,  an interactive performance set in a supermarket that she shared with other participants of this year's Forum during the open space showcase.During the playful performance, performers would move around the store like robots, piling their carts full of items. Sometimes the group could be seen using the ordinary items in unexpected ways such as musical instruments or makeshift shelters.The confused and curious ordinary shoppers who watched these exploits as they unfolded became part of the audience. The thought-provoking act aimed to highlight issues of sustainability and ethical consumption. The interdisciplinary project also contained an element of research on consumption habits with the main collaborators being social anthropologist Virginia Monteforte and academic Silvia Simoncelli. The year-long project culminated with a live performance.“To a certain point it was an intrusion in this private, semi-public space, with an element of shock, maybe,” says Borg. “It was participatory at times, depending on how the clients reacted to it. Hopefully, it allowed us shoppers to reflect on what we buy and how we buy.” Simple moments of connection When asked what inspired her to take up her career path, Borg stops to think.“This is a very interesting question because I’m in a transition phase. Three months ago I had a teaching post at a secondary school – so that’s one side of my career. But parallel to that, I always, as long as my memory takes me back, I remember being involved in the visual arts,” says Borg, adding that she had always been passionate about socio-community projects.These parallel versions of Kristina co-existed, but for some reason, she never thought she would be able to merge the roles.“But two or three years ago I started realizing that all this could merge. After all, it’s just me and part of my personality.”Borg also felt the need to move away from “rigid” world of art schools for a while and focus on her own projects and freelancing.Borg has recently combined her love for arts and people by coordinating a community project, entitled Naqsam il-MUZA (Sharing the muse), as part of the Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture program. The project aims to bridge a connection between the national fine art collection of Malta and the local community, finding ways for art to become a tool in everyday life and conversations.In the project, Borg meets locals and discusses art with them. Meeting new people and being introduced to their lives is one of the most rewarding aspects of her artistic practice, she says.“I always start off by having one to one meetings with the participants… I find it so fascinating that I meet this person. I have no idea who he or she is; they have no idea who I am… There would have only been some communication via email or the phone… and I find it so beautiful how they open up.”Borg fondly remembers a time when a participant felt the need to share something very personal with her to set the ground for their conversation. She often finds herself being invited to people’s homes and being offered food they have prepared. “I find these simple moments beautiful,” says Borg. Citizen of the world The chance to attend the fourth meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators came at the right time in Borg’s life.“It’s an awesome experience on so many levels. It’s a learning experience and a self-reflective experience which I think I needed at this phase in my life,” Borg says. “I always had this dream in my life to be able to answer the question, ‘Where do you come from?’ and say, ‘I’m a citizen of the world.’ And for the first time in my life - in these few days here at the seminar - I’ve felt the possibility to say that.”The Forum has also given Borg the willpower to realize her ideas. Before, she had a lot of ideas, but she never thought it was quite the right moment to put her them into action.“What I’ll take away from here is, ‘Just do it.’ It’s either now or never,” Borg laughs.“It makes you realize that what your worries are, and what you might perceive as a weakness are just common things with other participants, and just form part of the process,” Borg says.“Without support, we can’t get anywhere. It’s important to exchange ideas, to exchange fears and experiences, and offer solutions.” The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.
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Linda Kaoma - "Healing traumatized and broken communities is worth dying for"
Linda Kaoma - "Healing traumatized and broken communities is worth dying for"
Tomás De La Rosa 
As someone who featured on CNN African Voices due to her work conserving and recording African poetry for mobile consumption, Linda Kaoma is considered an expert in the crucial role arts and culture play for traumatized communities and the recuperation of cultural identity. Toward the end of the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, Kaoma spoke with Salzburg Global about how the arts play a role in healing broken communities and the inspiration behind her work. Salzburg Global: What inspired you to do the work that you do and what drives you on a daily basis? Linda Kaoma: The organizations I work with use the arts for more than just art’s sake. We use the arts as a catalyst for transformation, healing, and empowerment of African communities. I do this is because my creative expression has allowed me to change the narrative of my own life, and I want others to have that opportunity. The arts are a therapeutic process that heals people and communities. I come from a community that has faced much injustice, which resulted in a broken and divided community; the arts helped us resolve that by not delving into the brokenness, and moving beyond it. I do this work because I understand what these communities go through, and truly believe that they need healing. Through this healing, it’s that communities can start changing their own narrative, as they are able to use creative expression to dig deep into their humanity. This serves as a universal language that everyone can speak, regardless of origin or living conditions, because it is part of the human condition. SG: You work with organizations that use the arts as a tool for transformation, empowerment, and healing? What is this? What are some of the most powerful types of transformation art can do for local communities? LK: My work with Clowns Without Borders is an example of this. We travel to marginalized communities in crisis, and add a fun, theatrical, element to life in a refugee camp, which helps appease their minds after all they have been through. From a privileged perspective, this might seem as simplistic and futile, but these people have lost everything on multiple occasions, and so the sole idea of laughter is one they have not had in a long time. The possibility of going into communities and offering them a moment of relief, peace, and laughter is of huge importance, as it helps them reconnect, at least briefly, with the humanity war and crisis has forcefully taken from them. To me, this is the ultimate healing; you are able to see the light return to their eyes as they laugh. SG: During your work with Clowns Without Borders in South Sudan, you wrote an incredibly heartwarming article saying “Why do we live if we have not found something worth dying for?” Is your thing worth dying for to use the arts as a tool to heal communities such as those in South Sudan? LK: Yes [it is indeed worth dying for]. At the time I wrote this, I had been diagnosed with a chronic condition, and my doctors were very much against the idea of me going to South Sudan because there were serious concerns my health would deteriorate. However, I remained resolute, because I really believed in my work. As I said earlier, these are people who have lost everything multiple times, they have absolutely nothing. Even within my illness, I was able to understand my privilege, and that I had a duty to utilize my privilege to go there and make a difference. Even though I faced my own challenges, in the broader, bigger, picture that it was nothing to me because I knew how much these people needed human contact to relieve them from their devastating environment. SG: You speak of your work with Badilisha Poetry being fueled by Africa having a history of not keeping records of your culture, and you not wanting this to happen with poets. To some degree, do you think this transforms communities by making culture accessible and timeless? LK: Throughout African history, either because of colonialism or our own hand, much of our culture has not sat with us, and a lot of us don't have access to history, which represents a problem for young people attempting to create or assert their identity. We live in a global community, and so the consumption of external culture should not be frowned upon, but for poetry this represents a major challenge, as people tend to prioritize other better-known poets over local expression. The project was about helping local poets become better known, and make record of their work for future generations. Another of the project’s priorities, was ensuring the preservation of a distinct African style of poetry, which would allow poets to do great things around their culture without the need of conforming to western styles. The intention of this, was to help poets develop a strong sense of self, as well as providing a platform for them to exhibit said sense. Through this platform, poets were able to network with each other, establish a community, and exchange sustainable experiences. I firmly believe will make a part of our culture accessible and timeless. I did a lot of work for this in Mombasa, Kenya, recording older poets in order to preserve their art for local organizations; I worked with many great poets, including a man some refer to as “The Father of Swahili Poetry”.  Through them, I was introduced to a community that I would have otherwise not been able to access, and truly gain an understanding of. I provided me with some perspective, and taught me not to have the arrogance to assume that, through reading, we know everything about their literary community. To have their work immortalized does so much for the poets and those who use them as inspiration. It makes their work accessible, and also gives some confidence to those who want African art to be respected for its own value. SG: Lastly what do you take from your time at the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators? LK: At first, this experience was somewhat intimidating for me, I felt unprepared when I read who some of the people attending it were. Coming here, getting to know people, hearing talks, and learning in such an intimate way really changed my perspective, however. I learned that behind all of these great names, there are just people who try to do as much good as they can with the resources that they are given. The program was very thought-provoking, in the small groups we had time to ask questions you are not used to hearing and reflect about them. In a way, this is as transformational for me as the work I do with vulnerable communities. I leave this forum with a renewed sense of balance. The session felt very much like an exchange, I learned I need to work on my leadership skills, but was also able to pass down my knowledge of innovation on how to do community work. I'm taking away community entrepreneurship skills that I will apply on my daily work and when helping to transform communities. Because of this, I have also gained an unquestionable feeling that what I am doing is exactly what I want for my career, I like where I am and where I’m going. The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.
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Zeke Cohen - "Young people now have the responsibility to lead in a different direction"
Zeke Cohen - "Young people now have the responsibility to lead in a different direction"
Tomás De La Rosa 
Education is the key for developing functioning societies, and is appropriately, and necessarily, at the center of political discussion and decision-making at all times. Zeke Cohen, former teacher and education activist, now councilman for the first district of the city of Baltimore, United States, believes current education systems have failed underprivileged children across the U.S. Speaking at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, Cohen believes education should help youths see themselves in a different light. Recounting how a school he used to teach in physically resembled a jail, Cohen argues, "We need to teach young people how to be citizens, [...] to be fully empowered, to understand that your role and responsibility in this country is to have a voice and to hold government accountable to you, your family, and your community." Before assuming office in late 2016, Cohen and two fellow teachers founded The Intersection, a youth leadership development, in 2011. They were troubled by the sense of disenfranchisement and disengagement the youth of Baltimore used to have, and decided to focus their work toward underprivileged areas of the city. Now in public office and driven by his experiences as a teacher, Cohen is driven by his belief that young people are the future, and thus must be taught how to lead, arguing, “It's always important to ground ourselves in the work of our youth [...] if they believe in something at heart, they will carry the day.” At 32, despite being at dawn of his political career, Cohen already has a well-developed vision of the future he wants for his country, arguing diversity provides strength and dynamism. Cohen believes the current U.S. administration has failed to provide support for youths, immigrants, women, people of color, amongst other groups because they are not part of their own base: that of middle aged to older white me. Despite the current antagonistic environment for causes such as his, Cohen insists recent political events represent an opportunity for young people to truly have an impact on the future of their country, arguing, “Young people now have the responsibility to lead in a different direction. We are being called on, as a generation, to step up and do the work others have not.” A firm believer of community outreach and representing minorities, Cohen is committed to democracy, a core American value that, in his view, has lost its way. For democracy to work, a lot more outreach must be done as it's not good enough to just say “anyone can show up” because on the majority of occasions it is possible to predict “who” will come. He insists the current state of affairs bolsters this systems, with most decisions in the U.S. being made by middle to older-aged white men. “Democracy should be reflective of the diversity of the constituency that is represented, and so it is critically important that voices at the margins [...] have a seat at the table. [...] We need to do the work of identifying and support people at the margins.” Surrounded mostly by artists and activists at the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, Cohen jokingly says he has “no artistic bones in his body.” Nevertheless, he highlights the importance of the discussions in Salzburg because, "It is critically important that the voices of artists and cultural innovators are lifted", as they have the power to reimagine what this planet should look like, examine the current status quo and understand why it is not working. Cohen adds, “What it's going to take for it [the world] to be better, is forums such as this one, where you have people from all over the world, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, coming together to lift up our commonality and shared humanity. What I want to take back from this forum, [...] is a renewed sense that when people come together great things happen.” The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.
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Jung-Suk Ryu – The Desire to Create Better Societies and Communities Transcends Across Different Sectors
Jung-Suk (JS) Ryu, executive director of the Indefinite Arts Centre, is also a classically
Jung-Suk Ryu – The Desire to Create Better Societies and Communities Transcends Across Different Sectors
Oscar Tollast 
Jung-Suk Ryu can’t think of a better job right now that taps into his passions. The 32-year-old is four months into his new role as the executive director of the Indefinite Arts Centre – Canada’s oldestdisability arts organization. Ryu, who also goes by “JS,” took on the role having previously worked as director of external and community relations for the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and director of public affairs for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Ryu says, “Where I am now is [at] that perfect blend of both of those worlds that absolutely excites me.” The Indefinite Arts Centre provides training, creation and exhibition opportunities for artists who live with developmental disabilities. Just over 200 artists visit the Centre’s studio space each week to take part in self-directed artistic programs where are they given the freedom to create whatever they wish. Ryu, speaking at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, says, “Our organization helps them through that creation process all the way up to the exhibition where we exhibit their works both in our own gallery space within our facility but also within the city of Calgary, within the country, and also internationally.” A whole new world opened up for Ryu during his time at CNIB, an experience he found extremely humbling. “It certainly was extraordinary to realize the potential that is within countless Canadians across the country who happen to live with disabilities but are making tremendous contributionsin their own communities in their own ways.” After two years with CNIB, Ryu moved across to the arts sector to work for the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Here he oversaw the growth of the Centre’s public sector funding at a time of economic uncertainty. In his words, he was “the first sort of in-house lobbyist for this organization.” Ryu focused on strategizing and developing ways to increase the organization’s awareness within the public sector, strengthen relationships, and present a stronger case. He says, “I just helped capture what I was seeing into something that did indeed resonate with both levels of government that wouldfund us. That was really exciting to see.” The experience Ryu has accumulated in his career spans across multiple sectors including health care, politics, and communications. When asked if transitioning between these fields can be challenging, Ryu replies, “Absolutely not.” Expanding on this point further, Ryu says, “Everybody, in all sectors, we’re innovating. We’re trying to create a better community and a better society. We’re trying to address different gaps and means. What I’ve realized – especially with my career starting off in politics – I’ve realized that desire transcends sectors.” For Ryu, each sector is driven by the same thing. “Your staff is still tapping into that desire for all individuals to aspire to create stronger more resilient communities – whatever the audience may be, whatever that particular client group you’re working with. I haven’t really found it that much of achallenge. I think it’s tapping into that desire for change.” Ryu was one of five Canadians to attend this year’s Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, whose presence was made possible thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts. He was made aware of the opportunity thanks to a connection at the Council he made at a summit in Montreal last year. “If I had not gone to that event in Montreal, I would not have known about it whatsoever. It’s the same thing today. If I’m not here interacting with 49 other peers, who knows what kind of other opportunities I might not be able to experience?” Ryu described his first few days at Salzburg Global as “overwhelming,” highlighting, in particular, the opportunity to hear about a wide range of different initiatives and take part in informative skill-building workshops with different facilitators. “It is an incredible, unparalleled learning and networking experience and something that is so relevant to me because of the stage that I am in my career….” “These types of opportunities that help ground us in realizing that there’s tremendous potential to take pause and learn but to also take pause and make more and make friends and make networks, I think is so valuable.” The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.
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