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


 

 


Anwar Akhtar: "The films in Pakistan Calling are manifestos for peace"
Anwar Akhtar: "The films in Pakistan Calling are manifestos for peace"
Jonathan Elbaz 
Pakistan is threatened by deep, systemic challenges, but not only by the ones you see on TV. Major networks repeatedly cover the Taliban and sectarian violence, yet fundamental issues like economic marginalization, the treatment of women, child labor and poor education are swept from the public’s view.
That’s why Salzburg Global Fellow Anwar Akhtar has committed himself to spotlighting Pakistan’s toughest challenges and bolstering organizations working to transform the country. He runs Pakistan Calling, an online project—in partnership with the UK’s Royal Society of Arts (RSA)—that shares films about pressing social issues and facilitates cooperation between people and organizations in Pakistan and the UK.
“A lot of the organizations we profile are often in crisis management,” Akhtar said. “If you’re running a disability charity in Karachi, or you’re running an orphanage or you’re a small cultural organization, you probably haven’t got a communications budget, an outreach budget or an international development officer.”
Pakistan Calling compiles films with a social message. Some films tell the stories of individuals like ambulance drivers (Driving Life) and impoverished street children (I am Agha), while others explore larger ideas of multiculturalism, identity politics and sustainable development. Most films are produced externally by NGOs or university students, and Pakistan Calling gathers their work in one location.
Akhtar said the project aims to engage and empower the huge Pakistani Diaspora in the UK and elsewhere. An estimated 7 million people with Pakistani heritage live outside the country, with 1.2 million in the UK alone. Akhtar hopes that after people watch some of the short films, they’ll be driven to volunteer, advocate on and offline, or donate to the organizations profiled.
“The Diasporas can be a force for conflict resolution,” Akhtar said. “There’s obviously the family and the religious and ancestry links. There’s obviously remittances, and lots of people sending small amount of money to help schools or an orphanage or a clean water project…We’re raising awareness of innovative social projects that people might consider sending money to or supporting.”
Akhtar attended a Salzburg Global session in April entitled “Conflict Transformation Through Culture,” returned for the eighth Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, and returned again for the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. He credits the organization for widening his perspective as a cultural change-maker and for connecting him to key journalists and advocates around the world.
“I’ve now got access to a network of U.S.-based journalists and documentary filmmakers that work around human rights, social development and cultural progress in Asia,” Akhtar said. “As a British-based organization working on a budget of about £40,000, we would not have had the budget to go to Washington and find those people. And yet we found them, on a 90-minute flight from London to Salzburg.”
Akhtar’s background is not in journalism. He grew up in Manchester, England, selling t-shirts and jumpers from his father’s stalls, directing an arts and culture center, and working as a club promoter, before he founded The Samosa website. Consequently, his extended discussions in Salzburg with Media Academy Faculty Susan Moeller and Sanjeev Chatterjee—who have extensive experience utilizing media for social change—were immensely influential on his work.
So far Pakistan Calling has been instrumental in building links between people, communities and institutions. The success of I Am Agha has led some UK organizations to commission more films about the life of street children. The project helped spark an ongoing partnership between film students in Karachi University and London Metropolitan University (which Akhtar considers a “mini Media Academy”). And the Ajoka Theater, an organization first profiled in a Pakistan Calling film, will debut a production at the National Theater in London in April.
“What the films have shown is that there’s absolutely a large element of Pakistani society desperate to improve society and just want to improve their living environment, educate their kids, have a career and a secure society and country,” Akhtar said. “By focusing on that, rather than the Taliban or religious violence, you might actually address the latter issues. The films in Pakistan Calling are all by their nature manifestos for peace.”
The success of the RSA Pakistan Calling project is driven by audience engagement and peer involvement. You can view and share the films via the link: www.thersa.org/pkcalling You can read more about Pakistan Calling on the BBC, the New Statesman, the Huffington Post, the World Bank and the Guardian. 
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YCI Fellow Profiled on Austrian Radio Show
YCI Fellow Profiled on Austrian Radio Show
Jonathan Elbaz 
Dara Huot recently spoke on an episode of FM4's "Reality Check" about his work leading the social business of Phare, a circus troupe in Huot's home country of Cambodia. Phare employs mostly underprivileged Cambodian children and promotes the nation's musical and cultural heritage. While at the Schloss for the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators session, aboard the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Huot told FM4 about the mighty purpose of the organization and what one can expect to see once the lights go down at the circus. Listen to the interview below.
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Salzburg Global Launches Inaugural Young Cultural Innovators Session
Salzburg Global Launches Inaugural Young Cultural Innovators Session
Jonathan Elbaz 
At most sessions, Fellows spend the last day reflecting on the previous week and saying goodbye to other participants. But the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI) is unlike most sessions. Instead of reviews and farewells, the last day was spent plotting for the future. The delegation from Baltimore, Maryland made plans to meet up when they were stateside to talk more about collaborating. Fellows from Athens, Greece outlined plans to lobby their government to enact new cultural policy. Though the five-day session was over, the partnerships were just beginning.  That’s because YCI is structured differently than most core sessions. The gathering last week at Schloss Leopoldskron was just the inaugural meeting in a decade-long project, which will catalyze social entrepreneurship by connecting cultural innovators in cities around the world. Each year, Salzburg Global will bring new young leaders from approximately ten cultural hubs—cities like Rotterdam, Netherlands and Phnom Penh, Cambodia—and provide them the opportunity to develop their vision, entrepreneurial skills, and global networks needed to advance their causes and communities. After each session, the Fellows will return home to collaborate with members of the YCI network in their cities. That’s where the real magic will begin. The first class of young cultural innovators The initial YCI session October 18-23 gathered a diverse group of young leaders. Artists, event planners, non-profit founders, researchers, curators and government officials were present at the Schloss for five days of lectures, discussions, and workshops. The scope of Fellows’ projects was vast. Dara Huot of Cambodia runs a circus that employs disadvantaged children. Arthur Steiner of the Netherlands helps build creative co-working spaces in the Middle East. Brooke Hall of the U.S. runs a creative agency and is planning a wide-scale lights festival to illuminate the city of Baltimore in 2016. The first days focused on broad thematic questions, such as who are we, what are our roles, and what entrepreneurial landscape do we exist in? ImpactHub founder Jonathan Robinson proposed that we introduce a new profession to the lexicon: the “convener,” who is the social entrepreneur who brings people together. These are innovators who have the knowledge, network and resources to utilize human creativity to solve the world’s most pressing problems. The Fellows elaborated on this idea of the “convener” on the second day of the session. As the afternoon sunlight faded, the studio spotlights came on, and Robinson hosted a parody version of BBC’s “HARDTalk,” complete with a “live” studio audience and a team manning the call-in phones. The discussion served as an opportunity to survey the diversity of missions and to display much of the significant work the Fellows are involved in. After plenary discussions each morning, Fellows split into smaller groups for intimate conversations. Later each day, they participated in interactive skills workshops about entrepreneurial thinking, storytelling, technology and leadership. These were intense two-hour workshops—led by Sam Conniff, Didi Hopkins, Fiddian Warman and Amina Dickerson, respectively—that focused on teaching young leaders to be better planners, communicators and managers. One fundamental question that arose during the session was about how to address the systemic challenges to social entrepreneurship specific to each country. Fellows from Baltimore have vastly different capabilities in enacting social change than the Greek Fellows, who spoke about the lack of cultural policy in their country and the immense difficulties in rallying forces for change. But despite the differing challenges each hub faces, there was common ground in the knowledge that in each city, there now existed a network of young, passionate leaders who could begin tackling big social and cultural projects. As YCI Fellow Claire Power reflected, one of her big takeaways was witnessing the international solidarity of young innovators in the arts, culture and creative economies. Though the session was over, the collaboration would endure.
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Austrian Radio Show Spotlights YCI Participant
Austrian Radio Show Spotlights YCI Participant
Jonathan Elbaz 
Earlier this week, the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators gathered arts and culture leaders from ten different creative "hubs" around the world, including Baltimore, Athens, Seoul, Buenos Aires and Rotterdam. One YCI Fellow is Ashley Nijland from Rotterdam, Netherlands. She owns RAAF, which stands for Rotterdam-Art-Adventure-Food. RAAF aims to reenergize the southern part of the city with a creative hub, performance stage, event space and meeting place all in one venue. While in Salzburg, aboard the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Nijland spoke on Austrian radio show "Reality Check" about RAAF's amazing work leading creative and cultural projects. Listen below.
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Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Louise Hallman and Jonathan Elbaz 
A ten-year, worldwide project begins in Salzburg this Saturday, when more than 50 Fellows from ten "culture hubs"—cities as diverse as Rotterdam, Netherlands and Phnom Penh, Cambodia—convene at Schloss Leopoldskron for the inaugural session of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI). Young minds in the culture and arts sectors are providing some of the most imaginative new impulses for social improvement and sustainable economic development around the world today. Young artists, creative entrepreneurs and cultural leaders are demonstrating the creative vision, talent, and energy that our societies need to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The YCI session will allow these change agents the opportunity to develop their visions, entrepreneurial skills, and global networks needed to advance their organizations, causes and communities. From October 18-23, the Fellows will participate in plenary discussions, skills workshops and peer meetings. The YCI Forum is structured around ten culture hubs in six regions around the world, including Baltimore, Rotterdam, Phnom Penh, Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Salzburg. The Forum and its hubs will serve as a laboratory of new ideas, by bringing together these outstanding young creative minds, engaging them with each other, and providing a safe space in which their ideas can come to life. Each year, five young cultural innovators from each of the culture hubs will be selected to join the program in Salzburg through a competitive application and nomination process, which assesses their achievements, leadership potential, and commitment to making a difference in society. “Salzburg Global is committed to making the YCI Forum an ongoing, vibrant focal point for international exchange, emerging leadership, and innovation in the cultural sector,” said Salzburg Global Program Director for Culture and the Arts, Susanna Seidl-Fox.  “Over the course of the ten years, Salzburg Global hopes to generate a critical mass of 500 Salzburg Global Fellows who will continue to work together and collaborate with each other after the session in Salzburg, creating dynamic culture hubs to engage and act as a resource for other young cultural innovators at the local level.” An on-going evaluation plan—comprised of post-program surveys and a longitudinal survey of the project—will allow Salzburg Global to monitor and measure the success of the Forum. Additionally, an “Innovation Prize” will be awarded three times in ten years to recognize collaboration, achievement, and innovation within or among the culture hubs. The YCI Forum grew from the 2012 program “The Salzburg Forum for Young Culture Leaders,” held in collaboration with the US-based National Arts Strategies. Salzburg Global has a long history in programs around culture and the arts. Founded in 1947 as the “Salzburg Seminar in American Studies”, the independent, non-profit organization has held more than 65 programs dedicated to the cultural sector, including theater and cinema, literature and libraries, museums and galleries, and cultural heritage. The YCI Forum is supported by The Edward T. Cone Foundation, the American Express Foundation, The Japan Foundation, The Korea Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and Fulbright Athens.
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Patricia Garza: "Theatre changes lives!"
Patricia Garza: "Theatre changes lives!"
Alex Jackson 
If there were a young Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar who knew a thing or two about innovation, Patricia Garza would certainly be amongst the most notable alum. Not simply satisfied with her role in theatre work, she goes into the community to challenge preconceptions of the arts and drama, engages young people in group projects, advocates for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) rights and, when she has time, dabbles in fashion design. 
“I don’t sleep,” she jokes in an interview with Salzburg Global Seminar at 8:30 in the morning Los Angeles time. She has a coffee to hand, ready to kick-start another day crammed full of activities.
For the last seven years, Garza has been at Center Theatre Group, the largest non-profit theatre company on the West Coast of the United States. Since first attending Salzburg Global Seminar in 2012 as part of the inaugural Young Cultural Leaders (now Young Cultural Innovators) Forum, Garza has carried her torch of responsibility out into the Greater Los Angeles area, encouraging arts participation across various social backgrounds. In her career with Center Theatre Group, she has moved on from working in their education and community partnerships department (her work with which was part of the reason for her nomination as a Young Cultural Leader) to take on a role as New Play Production Manager, where she is helping to integrate the themes and practices of diversity and inclusion into CTG’s new plays.
“My experience with the Seminar was to say the least life changing. It really humbled me in a way that really opened my eyes to the bigger picture of the world, and allowed me to discuss what it means to be part of an arts movement or culture movement in a global society. That really informed my work to expand it very wide: It is not just about exposure and access, but it is also communicating and making sure that as artists we are working as people who are socially conscious and have something to say,” says Garza.
In order to accomplish this, Garza’s work portfolio is constantly diversifying: from the LGBTQ community to Latinos, she actively seeks out those who might not be traditionally involved in theatre or the arts, to provide alternative media of expression.  “Theatre changes lives!” exclaims Garza. “It’s about an access and entry point of acceptance, because with theatre you’re able to try somebody else’s life on for size or express yourself in a way that you wouldn’t normally do with your friends or family. It’s very healing for young people and even for ordinary community members. So even if you’re not necessarily at risk, or even a young person at risk—if you’re just a mom that has never taken a moment to think about the arts in their life—you do it every day with very small things that we do, so everyone identifies. For me, theatre already is integrated in our lives: It’s really just about giving people the opportunity to build community and giving them the opportunity to express themselves in ways that are very healing.”
In the United States, a country whose constitution is based upon values of equality, there is still a great need for therapeutic arts and means of healing—especially with regards to the LGBTQ community, with whom Garza works. A study published last November by UCLA suggested that as many as 21% of the LGBTQ workforce in the United States report being discriminated against because of their sexuality, and orientation could account for a pay discrepancy of a third compared to the wage of a heterosexual man in the same position.
“One of the big reasons why through my work at the Centre Theatre Group I have been focusing on outreach with LGBTQ communities is because it can be very equalizing and I think for us we want to ensure that every community group is represented and has their voice.  “Through some of my national work with [the] Theatre Communications Group, I am also a Young Leader of Color, and something we talk about a lot is diversity and making sure the American theatre scene is diverse… not just racially but also regarding ability, gender identity, race, age… To really make sure that what is reflected on our stages is really what is happening in our communities.”
If any part of the US were synonymous with the idea of the “American Dream,” it would be LA, with its beaches, film industry and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is a shining beacon, a testament to consumerism, capitalism and media stereotypes that restrict expression and identities of certain groups. Garza tackles these issues head on, using theatre as a means by which to inject change into the fashion industry too. She hopes to introduce a new clothing line that would help transgender or gender neutral persons in expressing their gender identity. A recent study reported that approximately 41% of those who identified as transgender or non-conforming in their gender identity had attempted suicide – nine times the heterosexual average. In this light, it is not difficult to see why Garza takes her work seriously.
“In my own work, I have explored LGBTQ rights so a big project of mine is definitely exploring some of this backlash,” explains Garza.
“A new project I have been brewing up with my partner and some colleagues is how we gender express ourselves through our clothing and how that can have ramifications in our everyday lives. 
“Something I have been trying to get off the ground as a fashion line is clothing that is gender neutral. So for people that do not specifically identify as male or as female, they are able to wear something that is very similar and is comfortable and really fits their personality. That is another walking art piece to really have LGBTQ people join in on the fashion dialogue.”
Much of Garza’s work is aimed at building tolerance and trust of diverse community groups. She feels that theatre is intrinsically linked in breaking down these ideas of prejudice espoused by Hollywood executives, as the media is a powerful tool. Being able to probe difficult issues via the arts allows people the opportunity to dispel their ignorance or misconceptions. Her Salzburg experience helped in shaping this approach: the key is innovation. 
“Salzburg made you think ‘How am I innovative in my work or how am I innovative through my art?’ and this dialogue that I have been having about LGBTQ gender identities through fashion, my collaborative partnership with some alums, through young people and their inclusiveness are informed through this.” 
Garza’s continuing enthusiasm for the “Salzburg Global experience” led her to be chosen to return for a strategy meeting at Schloss Leopoldskron in 2013 to critique and fine-tune the 10-year plan for the Forum, and help with the evolution of the Young Cultural Leaders Program into the new “Young Culture Innovators Program”.
Building on her own work with underserved communities, Garza is now collaborating on a project with fellow Salzburg Global Seminar Young Cultural Leaders Cecily Hardy, associate producer for Big hART Inc., working with Aboriginal Australians, and Yona Wade, director of the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center and Public Relations at Cherokee Central Schools in Cherokee, North Carolina, working with Native Americans. 
“There is a project that I am working on with some Salzburg alums which has really been impacted by the [Young Cultural Leaders/Innovators] Program. I wanted to really shift the dialogue with young people in particular about careers in the arts and awareness of their circumstances,” she explains.
“We want to make sure we form a trio of youth that can talk to one another and build cultural exchange and dialogue in order to create social change and awareness and to expose them to different cultures,” explains Garza. “Just as we got opportunities as adults to experience [Salzburg Global Seminar], we want to mini-deliver that experience to youth in [our] local communities so as they’re aware of global issues.”
As is evidenced by her global projects, Garza appreciates that her Salzburg Global experience has allowed her unprecedented access to a network of other innovative, creative talents. She believes that this accountability in the arts community and the need to share and collaborate on projects is something which encourages engagement with the public and maintains a dynamic relationship between artist and consumer. Salzburg Global Seminar has helped Garza to change her outlook on her work and see its political potentials.
“It was also very informative to be able to tap into a network of young cultural leaders that are doing such outstanding work out in the community and feed that into my own work. It helps politically so that your view can never get too narrow, and to be able to use this network as sounding boards to question: Is this going deep enough? Is this what we are all dealing with?”
All art is political of course, shaped out of the pressures of certain social, economic and governmental contexts. Ultimately, Garza’s vision is one of empowerment through the arts; a mode of expression that can move to galvanize an entire community to change the dialogue around currency to be about time exchange for artistic experiences, like with a project she consults for East LA Rep, or looking at the integration of bilingual theatre for the large Spanish-speaking community in LA. 
“We’re really shifting our focus in the next couple of years to be participatory and reach out to these communities. We don’t want to just put on theatre and you buy our ticket, end of sentence. It is about changing the dynamic and paradigm to say ‘you are arts makers and creators and we want to be part of that process with you,’” she says.
However, for Garza, it is the psychological elements of theatre, a space in which to be able to be wrong and make mistakes, that proffers the most innovative therapeutic retreats, and provides a space without restrictions. 
“It is about finding a space where you belong,” she explains. “Finding a space where people are going to love and accept you for who you are, mistakes and all. In theatre it is all about making mistakes over and over, until we get it right. And actually there is no right—and that is what makes theatre such a great haven.”
You can see more about Patricia’s work and how Salzburg Global has changed her outlook in our Faces of Leadership video series: 
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Belisa Rodrigues: “We are very open to engaging with our partners”
Belisa Rodrigues: “We are very open to engaging with our partners”
Oscar Tollast 
The manager of a pan-African arts association has said she is open to exposing its networks to Salzburg Global. Belisa Rodrigues manages the day-to-day operations of the Arterial Network and is the general manager of the African Arts Institute based in Cape Town, South Africa. The Arterial Network is a pan-African association of artists, cultural activists, creative entrepreneurs and cultural policy experts represented in 40 African countries. Ms Rodrigues said: “We’re looking for sustainability strategies in order to show that these networks flourish and are strengthened. “If the idea is around cultural hubs, rotating seminars or getting the conversation to move around – if we can help in that – whether it be online or whether it be a physical space, we are very open to engaging with our partners and making that possible.” Ms Rodrigues was speaking to Salzburg Global during the recent strategy session on ‘Promoting the Next Generation of Cultural Entrepreneurs: Planning for Success.’ Participants convened at Schloss Leopoldskron to discuss ways in which the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum could evolve into a 10-year program, a session which Ms Rodrigues attended last year. She said her invitation to last year’s forum was a great opportunity to be in a global environment. “Often in our context when it comes to African representation in international forums, there’s normally one or two representatives and their voices get lost amidst the other international players. “This was a very strategic opportunity for us to represent the continent through our networks and through my representation for Africa.” Participants at this year’s strategy session focused on how the 2012 Young Cultural Leaders Forum was organized, as well as assessing its methodology and teaching styles. Ms Rodrigues said: “We’ve managed to break it down and analyze it and put forward some recommendations that will be useful for the next session and for the next 10 years in terms of how entrepreneurship is taught in the cultural field. “The biggest takeaway for me was involving the participants themselves more intimately in the teaching methodology – using participants as live case studies.” She praised Salzburg Global for picking out themes that were relevant to the cultural sector, including the role of arts organizations in society. “I think for the next seminar series in terms of entrepreneurship, it’s very important to be able to understand the geopolitical and economic context in which we are operating in. “That’s a unique role that the Salzburg Global Seminar can present because it’s about getting big picture thinking and then finding how to navigate in this global environment.” During the session, Ms Rodrigues spoke at a fireside discussion about the geopolitical and economic context of Africa and the creative economy. She said: “I was able to provide some examples of cultural entrepreneurs who are doing it despite the constraints on the continent and in their countries.” The strategy session followed on from this year’s African Creative Economy Conference, held in Cape Town, which inspired Ms Rodrigues’ lecture. “My talk was basically trying to take some of [the conference’s] recommendations and some of the thinking around this topic into this international platform which is exactly what the Salzburg Global Seminar series should be doing, which is capitalizing on the knowledge of its participants.” Ms Rodrigues has a passion for the development and sustainability of the creative and cultural sector on the African continent and its ability to effect change in society. Prior to her work at the African Arts Institute, she worked in the private sector for a number of years as Operations Manager for a global FMGG brand, and has also been involved in various freelance arts projects. She describes herself at a “middle-management level” in her career, helping to support her manager to do more representative work. However, Ms Rodrigues suggested she was beginning to enter a new phase of influence. “I see myself now transitioning in that area where I’m presenting more in terms of personal career development [and] personal goals. I’m stepping more into those spaces. “Even though I’m an administrator, I’ve now become more aware of policy development and actually influencing the field.” Ms Rodrigues recognized the significance of being involved and connected with global thinkers at Salzburg Global. “Being invited back is testimony to the fact that we have a unique role to play on the African continent, but recognizing we’re not operating in isolation. “I think if we can insert or influence agenda, I think that is a really relevant and particular role I can see for the seminar.”
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