Edinburgh International Culture Summit

The Edinburgh International Culture Summit by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP

Monday 22nd August 2016

The 3rd Edinburgh International Culture Summit will take place Wednesday 24th – Friday 26th August 2016.  This year’s theme – ‘Culture: Building Resilient Communities’ reflects the Scottish Government and Summit partners’ belief in the vital role that culture plays in the life of any successful community.

We are welcoming ministers, policy makers and artists from over 40 countries to Edinburgh to take part in discussions against the backdrop of the Festival City, as Edinburgh and Scotland welcome the world.

Previous Culture Summits have shaped regional and global arts policy, and have created an effective international forum bringing genuine dialogue between ministers, policy makers and artists. The 2016 Culture Summit will host a range of nations and cultures, and is the perfect platform to develop that dialogue.

This year, the public are invited to attend a huge variety of sessions, on topics such as breaking down barriers to cultural participation, and hear from some impressive international speakers – from Grammy Award winners to trail-blazing New York dance group founders, from Syria to Australia.

Cultural heritage will play a major role in our discussions too. On 22nd August, the trial of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi will open at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. He faces war crimes charges for his alleged involvement in the destruction of historical and religious monuments in northern Mali in 2012. This trial is the first of its type ever to be brought in the ICC, and takes place at a time of ever-increasing international recognition of the threat posed by the rise in the destruction of cultural heritage as a tactic of war, a practice described by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as “cultural cleansing”.

Just as culture and heritage are global, belonging to all of humanity, our efforts to combat its deliberate destruction must too be international, and the actions of the ICC, aided by UNESCO among others, underline the resolve of the international community to protect this precious resource for humanity.

As we develop our first ever cultural strategy, based on the principles of access, equality and excellence, we will also look to learn from our neighbours, whilst sharing our experiences and our culture.

The 2016 public sessions offer a unique insight into cultural engagement, something that has never been more important and essential in the ever-changing world we live in today.

I am proud that Scotland will host the summit for the third time. This year, it has an added focus given the EU Referendum result. There is no other forum in the world that brings together ministers from all over the world and the Scottish Government has a strong message to all delegates - we are a modern, outward looking, open and inclusive country and we continue to open our doors and welcome the world. We want to continue to strengthen our relationships with European countries and partners all over the world to develop and deliver mutually beneficial outcomes, policies and programmes.

This year’s summit gives us an unique opportunity, in the current political climate, to promote Scotland as a trusted nation to collaborate with culturally, economically and creatively.

The Culture: Building Resilient Communities theme this year will give culture ministers and other experts from around the world an opportunity to gather and discuss the power, profile and positive impact of the arts, culture and creative industries. Here in Scotland we already know that those who participate in culture are more likely to report good health and life satisfaction than those who do not. It’s therefore vital we continue to create the conditions to enable young people to access and engage in culture and the arts. Our work with young people under the umbrella of Scotland’s youth arts strategy, Time To Shine, and supported by initiatives including the Youth Music Initiative, Cashback for Creativity, Sistema Scotland and Get Scotland Dancing, are designed to ensure that no-one’s background is a barrier to taking part in cultural life and giving young people all over Scotland a chance to take part in the arts.

I want every child in Scotland to be able to reach their potential and fulfil their ambitions, regardless of their background, where they live or their family circumstances.  Culture and the arts have a big part to play in making this a reality.

For Scotland to become an international leader in youth arts, we must ‎provide the conditions to create and sustain engagement and nurture our potential and talent and put young people at the very heart of what we do. Just over two and a half years ago we launched Time To Shine, Scotland’s first ever Youth Arts Strategy for young people up to 25. It’s main aim is to establish Scotland as an international leader in youth arts.

Our arts sector has an incredible reach. More than 1.5 million opportunities were created for young people to take part in youth arts in last year through organisations supported by Creative Scotland.

Our National Collections are ensuring that all people, irrespective of income and background, can experience and enjoy Scotland’s cultural treasures by maintaining free access to our world class museums and galleries, with over 27 million visits to our national collections since 2007, with many of these visits by young people.

I look forward to sharing Scotland’s story with the world throughout the Culture Summit whilst also learning from leading minds from the areas of culture, technology, politics and industry how we can continue to enhance the role that culture plays in the success of nations today.

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About the 2016 Culture Summit

The Edinburgh International Culture Summit 2016 brought together Culture Ministers with prominent artists, thinkers and others responsible for formulating cultural policy. 

They discussed how the arts enrich the lives of people around the world and contribute to the wellbeing of nations.

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