News Stories | 19 July 2018

Edinburgh International Culture Summit 2018 gathers globally renowned thinkers and practitioners to collectively explore the vital cultural solutions to health and wellbeing

This year’s Edinburgh International Culture Summit brings together internationally respected names from healthcare, politics, arts and education to discuss Culture and Wellbeing, one of three strands being explored at this powerhouse of international discussion from 22 – 24 August 2018.

The overarching theme of Summit 2018 is Culture: Connecting Peoples and Places. Building on the succinct and successful format of previous editions, Summit 2018 will address three key themes; Culture and Investment, Culture in a Networked World and Culture and Wellbeing, the details of which are announced today. Each theme will be the focus of a plenary session in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament, supported both by private policy discussions and workshops.

Culture and Wellbeing

With an increasing global lifespan and population, governments across the world face increasing pressure to provide a sustainable provision of health care. Could culture provide a solution? A growing body of neurological and clinical research indicates that participation in cultural activity offers long-lasting benefits for a range of medical conditions. The Culture and Wellbeing strand connects the latest research from the world’s preeminent clinicians with acclaimed artists and practitioners to explore the vital role culture has to play in addressing this global issue and at the Summit presenting direct examples of the benefits cultural participation has for social and healthcare systems.

Speakers and Stories

Opening the session ‘Culture and Wellbeing’ are Prince Totto Théogène Niwenshuti, a Rwandan Multidisciplinary Artist, Dancer and Scholar, and David Leventhal, Programme Director and Founding Teacher, Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD® programme, together performing a movement piece to represent the healing power of dance. The collaborative piece demonstrates how art helped Totto process the trauma of surviving genocide and showcases David’s ground-breaking work that harnesses the power of dance to help people manage the challenges of Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Assal Habibi, Assistant Research Professor, Brain and Creativity Institute, The University of Southern California will discuss the importance of creativity at all stages of life presenting her research on how musical training accelerates brain development in children.

Prof Bas Bloem, Medical Director and Consultant neurologist, Radboud University Medical Centre will provide a practical framework for clinicians to adapt cultural practices to treat chronic illness, with his former patient Julian Herman, Violinist & Former Concert Master of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra performing a solo.

Faisal Abu Alhayjaa, Fellow, Georgetown Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics addresses patient care, describing his experience of working as a clown in children’s wards and refugee camps across the world.

As well as addressing the Summit in the opening session in The Scottish Parliament’s Debating Chamber, the speakers will also join a series of round table sessions; Healthcare Innovation through Art and Culture, The Creative Brain and The Healing Power of Culture: Movement Workshop to explore and debate various aspects of wider stand in greater detail. Speakers will be joined in these sessions by;

Catherine Cassidy, Director of Engagement, Scottish Ballet, Emma Jayne Park, Artistic Director of Cultured Mongrel Dance Theatre, Joan McAlpine MSP, Convener Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee, Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Karen Ingham, Honorary Interdisciplinary Research Fellow at Swansea College of Art UWTSD and Honorary Fellow at Swansea University Medical School, Maria Portman Kelly, Programs and Engagement Manager of Dance for PD and Gemma Connell, Artistic Director of ‘The Artifact’ an organisation which creates dance in conversation with other art forms through performance, outreach and research.

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