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 2018:

Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators V
October 16 to 21, 2018

 


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 oldest
disability 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 contributions
in 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 would
fund 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 a
challenge. 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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Facilitators guide YCIs in lessons on entrepreneuship, leadership, design and sharing their vision
Participants at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Facilitators guide YCIs in lessons on entrepreneuship, leadership, design and sharing their vision
Oscar Tollast 

A series of skills workshops represented a unique opportunity for participants to address how to use arts and culture to make sense of the world and themselves and make a difference in their communities.

Facilitators included Adam Molyneux-Berry (managing director of iceHubs Global), Amina Dickerson (president of Dickerson Global Advisors), Arundhati Ghosh (executive director of the India Foundation for the Arts), and Matt Connolly (chief executive officer of Tällt Ventures).

Design with and for your user

Financial resources are not as important as human resources. Participants were recommended to build movements around the work they’re doing and use human-centered design to create programs, projects, and businesses that are focused on the needs of the user rather than the perceived needs of the user. A project should be designed in such a way that it addresses the needs of the people
being served. To do this, participants were encouraged to design projects with communities, not just for them.

Explore different ideas of leadership

We are the CEOs of our own lives, in addition to being a part of an organization. Participants reflected on how they showed up as leaders and what they wanted to achieve through demonstrating leadership.
The workshop featured a strategy which referenced The Bigger Game, created by Rick Tamlyn. Participants were challenged to think about the compelling purpose of their work, their hunger for advancing a certain discipline, what vision to bring on board, the investments which need to
be made, and the bold actions required to escape comfort zones.

Understand your entrepreneurial self

Participants examined a list of attitudes and behaviors which had been created with both successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs. Together they thought about where they stood against these attitudes.
They then went through the transtheoretical model, which involved moving them to a level of awareness around where they stood presently compared to thoughts of where they want to be tomorrow, and the
actions and habits needed to achieve that.

Help others understand what you do

The cultural sector can build its own stories in a way that are compelling, evocative, and more efficient than the stories which presently make up the dominant narrative. Participants went through a process of finding their story, exploring who they were, what they did and why, why having a story mattered, and who it mattered to. Participants explored the structure of their stories and the best way in which to tell them to audiences, be it with passion, rationale, or emotion.


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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YCI Forum highlights benefits of collaboration and exchange
Participants of the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators reflecting on their experience at the final plenary discussion
YCI Forum highlights benefits of collaboration and exchange
Tomás De la Rosa 

The fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators has reached a resounding conclusion with a message of unity and cooperation.

After six days at Schloss Leopoldskron, 50 of the brightest and creative minds influencing urban and social transformation in their communities have left Salzburg with ideas on how to develop their causes.
This year’s Forum involved young artists and cultural leaders representing more than 30 cities and regions.

Participants exchanged their cultures, passions, opinions, and individual talents and explored how diversity in art is perceived and how it impacts communities.

In the program’s final plenary session, facilitators Peter Jenkinson and Shelagh Wright suggested the session marked the beginning of some of the most thought-provoking conversations of the participants’ lives, something they hoped would influence participants throughout their careers.

Referring to Muhammad Ali’s poem, “Me. We,” Jenkinson and Wright explained that by raising complex issues and dilemmas, participants were pressured to think outside of their safe spaces and develop a greater sense of intimacy with those they would not normally relate with, thus improving their understanding of group dynamics.

The skills workshops and small work groups created to incentivize discussion and facilitate exchange throughout the session received high praise from participants during the closing plenary.

The exchanges throughout the final few days of the program helped refresh the participants’ vision and entrepreneurial skills. A number of participants said the experience had allowed them to enrich each other through different beliefs and approaches.

One participant said that by asking them to face challenges that could only be solved through collaboration, the session had made them more committed to working with people from different backgrounds as the variety of inputs helped them complement each other and make the challenges “not feel like such.”

Several of the facilitators described the Forum as a safe space for courage and peace where Fellows act as a bridge to the future.

Looking ahead, participants discussed potential projects to implement in their communities going forward, as well as how to strengthen the existing YCI network.

The YCI network has now grown to more than 200 creative change-makers across all continents.


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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Luciana Chait - We’re losing great art by turning our backs on people who lack access to opportunities
Luciana Chait participated in the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Luciana Chait - We’re losing great art by turning our backs on people who lack access to opportunities
Mirva Villa 

For the past four years, Luciana Chait and her colleagues at AulaVereda have visited a slum in Buenos Aires twice a week. With their help, more than 30 children and teenagers have been able to develop their view of culture, art, education, and values without imposition. “We think that children are agents of change,” says Chait, speaking at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. “They’re change-drivers, not just receivers of what adults can give them. We live in a world centered around adults, but we think children can give a lot themselves.”

Chait, a coordinator for AulaVereda,says the project aims to empower children living in vulnerable parts of the city and the surrounding area. Chait’s work primarily involves people living in a slum called Villa 31. A problematic housing situation, unemployment, and a lack of access to schools and hospitals are just some of the challenges being faced by residents. Nestled right next to the wealthiest part of Buenos Aires, the contrast is stark.

AulaVereda (Classroom-in-the-Streets) looks to provide children with the same education and cultural skills that other children have. Chait believes culture is created from the bottom-up and ordinary people have great artistic skills and ideas to encourage cultural development that needs to be brought to society.

“Usually we think of “Culture” with a capital letter, that people who have the money can pay for it and have access to it. The “culture” of the peoples – lowercase - is forgotten, and so we try to reinforce the culture and artistic skills of children and teenagers in vulnerable areas.” Chait’s passion for supporting the education of these children and youth comes from her background as a teacher.

But she also feels passionate about ensuring that great talents are not lost due to lack of opportunity.
“The world is unfair, and it needs to change; that’s for sure. We’re losing a lot of great art by turning our back on people who don’t have the time or the tools to produce, so we’re losing a lot of great artists, great painters, great singers and other skilled people because they are either too busy working or dealing with a harsh everyday life. We have to look for a way to stop losing a lot of great things in the world.”

Chait hopes that her experience at Salzburg Global will provide her with ideas on how to make the project more professional and to help it grow – not only in size but also in quality. “I’m hoping to go home with more tools to make the project grow. I’m really convinced that this project needs to be everywhere, not just in a few places… I also think that there are experiences around the world from other people that will help me enrich the project.”

Finding links and creating new connections is also valuable for Chait as she seeks to advance the growing movement concerning children’s rights. Chait says, “There is a cultural movement, and there is a child movement around the world, so children are getting organized in different ways. I think we need networking for that.”

Another aspect of education Chait is working hard to revolutionize is electronic learning, which she has been working on for a decade. Several years ago, Chait worked with the government in South Africa, helping to tackle illiteracy. Now, she is involved in a project to train community health workers in the United States to fight against issues such as diabetes in vulnerable areas.

She recently co-founded Dijon - Media and Learning Experience, a body which helps organizations and people develop electronic learning materials.

In Chait’s mind, “Technology and education could bond together to help solve the world’s problems.”


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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YCIs reflect on the best practices for anchor institutions
Participants at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.
YCIs reflect on the best practices for anchor institutions
Mirva Villa 

The issues faced by cultural practitioners and the best practices for anchor cultural institutions in
communities were among the topics discussed on the third day of the
fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

Alberta Arthurs, a multi-time Salzburg Global Fellow, and member of Salzburg Global’s Advisory Council on Culture and Arts kick-started the discussion by reflecting on today’s global challenges.

Arthurs suggested the world had recently experienced significant geopolitical and geoeconomic changes alongside the rise of new leaders. With that in mind, culture and the arts could act as unifying forces.

How to harness that power to build connections on a global scale is – in Arthurs’ view – one of the biggest challenges for today’s cultural practitioners. She said, “We need proximity, the sense of
likeness and kinship that artists and activists create across countries and borders.”

Arthurs said the cultural sector also required more research to support and advance the work people do on a practical level. Sat next to Arthurs were Karen Brooks Hopkins, president emerita at the
Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Steven A. Wolff, principal at the AMS Planning & Research Corp.

Discussing research conducted by the Anchor Cultural Institutions Project, both Hopkins and Wolff focused on the question: How can anchor cultural institutions in low-income areas and communities in transition make maximum social, economic and artistic impact?

Several conclusions were drawn from studying three U.S.-based anchor institutions: The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, AS220 on Rhode Island, and MASS MoCA in Massachusetts. Key strategies included building meaningful partnerships in the community and “speaking in one voice.” This strategy
meant having a consistent and clear message reflected in all aspects of the institution. It was also essential to remove obstacles and make room for everyone in the community.

An ideal vision of a 21st-century cultural district is one where different institutions can co-exist side by side, creating a hub consisting of all levels of arts and culture. Hopkins cited the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, England, as a successful example of cultural collaboration. The historic area consists of hundreds of jewelry stores, but also has a mix of other businesses and a vibrant community event scene, attracting visitors with tours, performances, and creative activities.

Wolff discussed further the role anchor cultural institutions play in their community. The three case studies highlighted in the research thought the most impact they had was on the city identity, diverse programming, and youth education. Wolff suggested the institutions can continue to enable cultural awareness and understanding – “things that we desperately need today.”

The presentation raised a lot of thoughts among participants on the role large anchor institutions should hold in their communities and the relationship and exchange between smaller community initiatives and more prominent organizations.


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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Heinrich Schellhorn welcomes YCIs to Province of Salzburg
Heinrich Schellhorn, Minister for Social and Cultural Affairs in the Province of Salzburg, speaking at the fourth Salzburg Global Young Cultural Innovators Forum.
Heinrich Schellhorn welcomes YCIs to Province of Salzburg
Oscar Tollast 

At different stages in our career, and in life, we can feel as if we’re running on empty – operating on little energy or with scarce resources.

During this time, the need to remain resilient takes on an even greater significance when a big decision goes against us.

Participants of the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators reflected on this thought and how to respond to setbacks during an official welcome by Heinrich Schellhorn, Minister for Social and Cultural Affairs in the Province of Salzburg.

Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine asked Schellhorn where he found strength and resilience in light of the Green party’s performance in Austria’s general election this past Sunday.

While Schellhorn described the result as a “bleak day,” he felt the Greens would rise again, reflecting on the “ups and downs” he had experienced in his career.

At this week’s election, the Greens gained just over three percent of the vote. Schellhorn said the party had failed to provide the right answers to the questions voters were asking.

He indicated society was changing very fast, coming to terms with globalization, immigration, and digitalization.

Schellhorn suggested “simple answers” would not solve any of the concerns but that these types of messages appealed to voters. He told participants there was a need to remain optimistic and support the values of international cooperation and an open society.

One participant asked Schellhorn for his thoughts on where progressive change would come from, suggesting the message needed to come from the bottom up.

Schellhorn agreed and said the first thing required was for politicians to listen to the people. He then told participants that a “leadership of ideas” was needed. According to Schellhorn, democracy does not always mean the voters are right; it also means leaders being able to convince voters of their ideas.

The People’s Party, headed by Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, won enough seats in the election to give the party control of parliament in a coalition.

To what extent did the election result reflect a generational way of thinking?

Schellhorn said the young generation was “very divided.” In light of a declining birth rate in Austria and an aging society, Schellhorn predicted voters aged 50 and above, however, would play the most active part in civic society in the future.

Speaking after Schellhorn, Peter Jenkinson, YCI Forum facilitator, said this year’s cohort represented a “creative army that’s deeply human” that will be part of the growth going forward. Jenkinson said, “We have to believe there is a better way and there are no barriers that can’t be overcome.”


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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Julius Owino - "Who's going to change things if it's not us?"
Julius “Juliani” Owino is one of 50 participants taking part in the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Julius Owino - "Who's going to change things if it's not us?"
Mirva Villa 

“Being confident in yourself and having the courage to try – we didn’t have that,” says Julius Owino, speaking at the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. “Over time,” he adds, “I built that confidence for myself... For me, it takes small actions and being deliberate… And what I learned [at the session] is having courage, too. Having [the] courage to try. So over time, you try, and you try, and it starts making sense.”

Owino (also known by his rapper name Juliani) grew up in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. It was a harsh upbringing: he would see his parents and the parents of his friends work hard every day to try and make sure there was food on the table. He was 16-years-old when he got his first good pair of shoes. He lost friends who were killed as a result of crime.

For Owino, who started creating music as a teenager, it felt at the time like there was nothing to encourage him to strive for success.

“It’s really difficult to get somebody to tell you failure is not one of the things that is celebrated. You only celebrate when you’re successful.

“When you have hope, you can take anything that day. When you get people telling you that they see something in you, even when you’re not seeing it – that’s really inspiring and gets you [going].”

For the most part, Owino had to build that self-confidence on his own. Now, having become a well-known hip-hop artist, Owino wants to support people from his childhood community.

He has already founded several initiatives, including Dandora Hip Hop City, Mymsanii, Customer Bora, and Taslim. The projects all have the same goal: to give hope to young people.

“To just tell these guys that actually, I see something in you that your reality is not showing you now, and here’s an environment for you to try to bring it out of yourself.”

Owino is one of 50 participants taking part in the fourth Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

Among other creators and innovators from the arts and culture sector, Owino is taking part in seminars and break-out groups discussing entrepreneurship, storytelling and leadership.

By the end of the session, participants like Owino will able to develop their ideas, skills, and global networks that will help them and their causes to grow in stature.

First started in 2014 to empower and advance young change-makers, Salzburg Global’s Young Cultural Innovators network now includes more than 200 creatives all over the world.

Uniting and empowering young people is something Owino feels strongly about. He raps in Sheng – a Kenyan language mixing English, Swahili, “and any other thing that can make sense” because in
a country divided by tribes and class lines Owino says that’s one of the things that unifies people, particularly young Kenyans.

“It’s a language that keeps changing… It was created by Kenyans to break barriers when it comes to tribal issues, class issues… Sheng is one of the main things that has been able to do that,” Owino says.

Speaking to Salzburg Global on the second day of the session, Owino says he has “already gained a lot” from the experience.

“For me, even to be here with all these 50 amazing people that I’m amongst, who are doing things all over the world… and I’m just a guy from Nairobi. It has increased my confidence and my validation,” says Owino. “If I can get to do a YCI [event] in Nairobi, that would be amazing.”

“Kutabadilishwa na nani Kama si sisi” is the name of one of the songs on Owino’s first album, which translates in English as “Who will change things if it’s not us?”

The song reflects on his experiences growing up in the slums. Its message is to empower young people to take up the responsibility to improve their own lives.

“It’s easy to become the victim, and it’s easy to have that perception about yourself, that you just have to survive and die… Through faith in [myself ], I actually realized that I have a lot to offer. So that’s why I’m saying, who’s going to change things if it’s not us?” 


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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