The sixth Edinburgh International Culture Summit has now closed

Published : Monday, August 29, 2022, 10:08 pm
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Ministers and experts from around the world corral behind the crucial role of creative, innovative education to our successful economic and societal future.

Closing day highlights Climate Change as a crisis of culture and pushes for the twinning of Ukrainian villages, towns and cities with partners around the world to support its recovery.

The sixth Edinburgh International Culture Summit has now closed.

Over an intense weekend of expert contributions and Ministerial responses the assembled Culture Summit has been inspired by stories and evidence of the crucial role culture has to play in the world’s future economic, environmental and societal success.

In addition to the keynote speeches delivered in the Debating Chamber, more detailed and interactive discussions have taken place across the Parliament in breakout workshops and government bilaterals.

Saturday’s focus on the need to transform culture’s relationship with education heard from Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at the OECD in Paris [Educ 11:24:00]. He opened by saying: “The future is always going to surprise us. Climate change is going to disrupt our lives a lot more than this pandemic. And AI puts education to a real test.” He spoke about how the things that are easiest to teach are losing value most rapidly in the workplace.

Talking about global issues that face us all and students’ response to areas of crisis and their ability to impact on that he said: “We have made young people passive consumers of pre-fabricated content, but we don’t give them that agency: the capacity to do things: to mobilise their cognitive, emotional, and social resources.”

Arts education and maths education are two sides of the same coin, Schleicher argued, saying that arts need to be moved to the centre of the curriculum. “Somehow, we have come to believe that the drop in creativity demonstrated between those age 10 and 15 is not linked to education.” Currently ‘education’ is taking something away from “that energy that is the fuel of 21st century societies and economies”

Deirdre Quarnstrom, Vice President of Education Experiences at Microsoft [Educ 11:08:54], shared examples of Minecraft being used to create a home for a literary character, giving students the opportunity to think more deeply and roundly than traditional formats of education allow. She also talked about Scottish creator Stephen Reed and how he sought to ease the experience of Syrian refugees travelling to Scotland by creating a journey in Minecraft that a family may experience. This journey was shared with the classmates in locations where families were being housed in a bid to build empathy ahead of their arrival. Minecraft has been shown to work across education and the curriculum, benefitting social impact, and increasing equity and accessibility.

Among the country delegation responses on Education were Vice-Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of South Korea, Hwang Hee [Educ 11:55:00], Ms Dace Vilsone, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia [Educ 11:58:28], Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage of New Zealand the Honourable Carmel Sepuloni [Educ 12:05:25], Keiko Nagaoka, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan [Educ 12:11:59]

The urgent need to innovate our approach and attitude to Climate Change drove the conversation on Sunday.

The first keynote of the day, given by ethnomusicologist Steven Feld delved into the Bosavi rainforest of Papua New Guinea, a world he has been immersed in since 1975. He described how over three decades he recorded thousands of songs which in turn captured over 7000 terms for features of the weather, and the flora and fauna of the forest. The tribe into which he had been adopted sang to and about the water, birds and land, the spirit world and their ancestors, creating memory maps and remaining connected through the world of the sounds. He became a resource for the tribe helping people with issues including education and law as worldwide concern grew through the 1990s about the impact on rainforests. Feld’s solution to this needed resource was to work with the Bosavi people to make recordings, books and films which projected to the outside world the heart and importance of the rainforest, raised awareness and attention and generated funds through sales to support their community to deal with this. [Sust 10:06:47]

Mina Girgis, Producer and CEO of The Nile Project in Egypt [Sust 10:43:51], linked in live from the early hours of the morning in San Francisco to describe how despite scepticism from those working on the environmental side of things, those working on the water conflict immediately gathered the important role the music based project could play saying, “Yes, that’s exactly what we need right now. What we don’t have are projects that build trust. The reason that the 11 countries along the Nile have not signed the Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement which they have been negotiating for the last 23 years, is because of a lack of trust.”

Among the country delegation responses on Sustainability, the Summit heard from Executive Director of the Art and Culture Development Foundation (ACDF) of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Gayane Umerova [Sust 10:35:33]; Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport from the Republic of Kosovo, Hajrulla Çeko [Sust 11:00:43]; K M Khalid the Honourable State Minister of Cultural Affairs of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh [Sust 11:05:57]; Vice-Minister of Culture and Tourism from the People’s Republic of China, Mr Rao Quan [Sust 11:13:06]; Maša Vlaović.

Minister of Culture and Media, Montenegro [Sust 11:19:32].

Dance artist Akram Khan [Sust 11:25:17] closed the session in a moving address co-written by his daughter, in which he said “Climate Change is here” and described it as both “a crisis of culture” and “a duet. It is a relationship.” Khan urged that we need a new approach to storytelling which gives hope to the children of today, moving forward and moving backward at the same time.

Khan recounted an anecdote from the Amazon about looking at things differently, seeing time differently; that the past is in front of us because we can see it, and the future is behind us where we cannot see it. “Art does that. Allows you to see things differently. Perhaps reverse the way we see it now.” And so, he wondered if we need to go back and learn from the Amazonian tribes, not just about the concept of time but also how to find a deep and meaningful way to bring back the connection and interdependence we had, and should still have with nature. He suggested that in creating work, we need to treat the past and future equally, the answers are in our past, and we have to listen for the mistakes we made.

During the closing session summing up the three days, arresting summaries of calls to action to support Ukraine, with James Arroyo, Director of Ditchley Foundation [Close 15:06:35] reminding us that “Peace is a difficult process, not a resting state.” He spoke to the three-day risky journey that the Ukrainian delegation had made to attend the Summit saying, “They described a war with the ambition to wipe Ukrainian culture and identity from both the map and our collective imagination.” He added, “The war launched by President Putin rests on the definition and promotion of one culture at the expense of another, denounced as degenerate and not worthy.” He told practical responses discussed at the Summit including financial assistance to sustain artists, creating new work, fellowship with Ukrainian artists, twinning institutions, technical teams and artists, and said that beyond emergency aid we now need to think longer term about how to support Ukraine.

Paul Fitzpatrick, National Theatre Scotland [Close 15:14:43], summed up the conversations around education quoting Nicola Benedetti’s keynote on the opening day: “All life is education. We are all seeking education. Our life is our education.” He remarked that innovation comes from imagination and called for the system to break down the silos and use the opportunity of hybrid advances to reimagine education with greater numbers and diversity of students. He quoted Dorotea Deshishku, Political advisor to the Minister of Youth attending from Kosovo who remarked that we need to “be prepared for jobs that have not yet been invented.” His final call being for “a paradigm shift that starts now, with the people in this room.”

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Deputy Convenor of the Net Zero Energy and Transport Committee at the Scottish Government [Close 15:22:30] reported back on conversations around Sustainability, opening with a quote from Robert Burns, who disturbing the nest of a mouse with his plough wrote these lines “I’m truly sorry man’s dominion has broken nature’s social union”, adding that man’s use of technology and carbon over the last couple of hundred years “has done much more than brake nature’s social union”. She called on those in culture and the arts to build connections with nature and motivate social change, and also to bridge difference. Hyslop pressed that mass climate migration is happening now, challenging the room to examine what they are doing? Closing with the need for urgency as active citizens of the natural world, saying “and we need your agency, your power, your story, so that humanity with nature can survive”

Three live broadcast panel discussions from the Culture Summit, Live from the Culture Summit, gave people around the world the opportunity to hear directly and to ask questions. These discussions as well as keynotes from the Summit will become available on

On the closing of the 6th Edinburgh International Culture Summit, the partner’s said:

Rt Hon Alison Johnstone MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament said: “This summit has brought together people from across the globe to share ideas, with art and culture being our shared language. I am sure the impact of this summit will have reverberations that will continue to have a positive effect on our countries and societies for some time to come.”

Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus Robertson MSP said: “This weekend has clearly demonstrated the power of culture in promoting international dialogue. I would like to thank all the speakers, performers, and contributors from around the world for bringing their energy, insight and creativity to this year’s summit.

“This event has boosted both existing and new partnerships and relationships and I am confident that our discussions on the important global issues we all face will continue in the year to come.”

UK Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said: "After invigorating discussions on freedom, education, and sustainability and the important role that culture can play in all three, I leave the Edinburgh International Culture Summit feeling more confident than ever that culture is a real force for good in our world.

"It has been inspiring to hear new perspectives and make new connections. I look forward to taking forward many of the ideas we have discussed this weekend in our work together."

Fergus Linehan, Director of the Edinburgh International Festival said: “There have been many wonderful observations that took place at the Summit, but they do have to be translated into action. We must show artists support, the individual artist is going to be the driver of the explosion of new ideas and visions that we have all talked about during the Summit, meaningful support which can take many forms, to allow them to speak their voice.”

Ministers and Cultural Policy delegations from over 30 countries attended the Summit presenting a unique and vital platform to facilitate collaboration between artists, practitioners, thinkers and policy makers from across the globe.

The Edinburgh International Culture Summit is a collaboration between the British Council, Edinburgh International Festival, Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government and UK Government, delivered on behalf of the partners by the Edinburgh International Culture Summit Foundation.

For further information on the Edinburgh International Culture Summit visit:

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