News Stories | 06 July 2022

Culture and Sustainability – Contributors Announced

We are excited to announce more details of the programme for this year’s Edinburgh International Culture Summit, which includes a day dedicated to Culture & Sustainability.

A speech will be delivered by renowned ethnomusicologist Steven Feld who is celebrated in the fields of anthropology and music and recognised for his work with the Kaluli (Bosavi) people of Papua New Guinea. Following this, a keynote will be given by Mina Girgis, founder of the Nile Project, an international non-profit that promotes the sustainability of the Nile River by curating innovative collaborations among musicians, university students and professionals.

Culture & Sustainability will explore the vital role that culture can play in helping people all over the world discover commonality, to conceptualise the critical issues we face today, and to help imagine and create global solutions for a sustainable future. The theme of sustainability will also be the focus of a plenary session in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament, supported by private policy discussions and workshops.

The first of the Summit’s workshops brings Culture Ministers and delegates from around the world to explore the culture of land and water, responding to the question of how we can foster respect and understanding for the importance of fertile land, oceans, and rivers. Among those contributing to this conversation will be Angus Farquhar, who brings decades of experience in performance and environmental installation, as well as being the Creative Director of Dandelion, a festival programme of science, art, and music which calls on Scots to utilise the land to grow their own food.

Dame Meg Taylor, who served as Secretary General to the Pacific Islands Forum until 2021, joins the Summit to share her insight into the corporate and regulatory matters of creating a sustainable society. With a vast and varied experience in the public and private sectors at national and international levels, she will offer valuable knowledge in the discussion of marine, forest, and urban environments with a focus on the Oceanic territories.

Dr Yalinu Poya Gow, recipient of the 2020 University of Glasgow Future World Changer award, is a Papua New Guinean scientist recognised internationally for her expertise in green chemistry and climate change policy. Through her research in ammonia production, her ambition is to develop solutions to feed the world’s population more sustainably.

At the forefront of the international arts scene, Lemi Ponifasio is globally renowned for his progressive application to theatre, politicking, and engagement with indigenous, Māori and Pacific peoples. As a pioneer of community-integrated dance, he has collaborated and performed everywhere from schools, factories, and villages to opera houses, castles, and stadiums. His work responds to indigenous cultural recovery, language, and knowledge, thought and narratives that have been silenced or excluded.

Summit 2022 will also explore the environmental challenges of performing and presenting artistic activities, with key experts sharing solutions to achieve sustainable practice. Alison Tickell established Julie’s Bicycle, a leading non-profit organisation helping the performing and visual arts industry reduce its environmental impacts. She brings her knowledge of bridging sustainability with arts and culture to Culture Summit, as well as her experience on various advisory boards and awarding bodies.

As co-founder and board member of the European House for Culture, an initiative of the European Festivals Association, Kathrin Deventer will share a unique insight into culture and its role in civil society engagement. A believer in a cultural Europe which emerges from interactions between people and organisations from all sectors in society, she advocates for the responsibility of all sectors to recognise the importance of sustainable culture.

Robbie Gordon is a theatre-maker who specialises in making work both with, and for, communities. Co-Founder of critically acclaimed “fiercely curious” (The Herald) Wonder Fools, Director of Creative Engagement at Gaiety Theatre, Ayr, and Creative Development Producer for the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Robbie brings insight into the practical challenges of creating and performing sustainable theatre.

Following discussion of the challenges of performing and presenting art, Culture & Sustainability’s final workshop will also respond to the cultural challenges that arise from Urban Environments, asking how we can imagine a renewable utopia for the twenty-first century.

Fehinti Balogun will respond to this question from his perspective as an actor, theatre-maker, and climate activist. In a digital performance titled ‘Can I Live?’ the climate catastrophe, the biggest challenge of our time, was explored through spoken word, rap, theatre, and animation. Alongside his creative output, Fehinti has toured across England as a speaker, participating in several international climate discussions.

As a Professor of Urban Design and Planning at Harvard University, Rahul Mehrotra is a renowned academic in the field of urbanism. Over the last thirty years, his long-term engagement with, and analysis of, urbanism in India has given rise to a new conceptualisation of cities. He is also the founder principle of RMA Architects and has designed and executed multiple public and private sector projects, driven by the firm’s commitment to advocacy in the city of Mumbai.

The final contributor being announced in the Sustainability strand of the Culture Summit is Simon Sharkey, artistic director, and CEO of the internationally renowned ‘The Necessary Space’. Best known as one of the founding directors of The National Theatre of Scotland where he pioneered the “Theatre Without Walls” methodology, he now travels the world with his “Theatre of Opportunity” embedding artists in communities to affect social change, advising on how to achieve UN sustainable goals, and reimagining the impossible through art, community, and connection.

As a truly global conversation, these contributors will share discussion, insights, and solutions from a diverse range of cultural, political, and social perspectives. The Edinburgh International Culture Summit offers a unique opportunity for these perspectives to influence and enact positive change and lasting impact through cultural policy and investment.

Invitations have now been issued to Culture Ministers across the globe to attend this August, set against the backdrop of many nations’ artists taking part in the Festivals, celebrating 75 years in 2022. Hybrid opportunities are being considered to support those unable to travel. The inclusion of a fully integrated youth programme ensures the Summit hears from extraordinary young artists and cultural leaders sharing their vision for the future and inspiring multinational, cross-generational cultural exchange.

The sixth Edinburgh International Culture Summit will take place from 26th – 28th August 2022 at the Scottish Parliament.

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