Culture and Sustainability: What does internationalism mean in a year of no travel?

A year on from the Edinburgh International Culture Summit’s Special Edition, the first of the EICS digital events kicks off on 24 August in partnership with the Edinburgh International Festival.

When: Tuesday 24 August, 11:00 (BST)
Format: 1hr discussion with 3 speakers and a chair

The EICS Digital Programme will present bimonthly online panel events, hosted with each of our partners, exploring specific questions on sustainability and education, all in the run up to the 2022 Summit.

The first digital event this August will discuss what internationalism means in a year of no travel in relation to sustainable societies and new found ways of being, reflecting on migration, diaspora and artistic touring.

Ultimately, we ask, have the values placed on travel from an artistic viewpoint changed, and how can we put creative practice at the heart of advocating change in the face of the climate crisis?

Edinburgh International artists, choreographer Omar Rajeh (Dancing in the Streets) and songwriter and folk musician Karine Polwart (Karine Polwart with Dave Milligan) bring their own distinctive voices to reflect on sustainable communities, travel and internationalism. Joining them on the panel is award-winning Ghanaian writer, art historian and filmmaker Nana Oforiatta Ayim, along with EIF Director Fergus Linehan acting as Chair.

We will hold the event digitally ‘live’ on Events Air, with an introduction from Sir Jonathan Mills, Programme Director, and take Q&A’s from a digital audience.

Meet the Panelists

Confirmed speakers:
Fergus Linehan, chair
Omar Rajeh, choreographer
Karine Polwart, songwriter and folk singer
Nana Oforiatta Ayim, writer and filmmaker

Omar Rajeh, the critically acclaimed choreographer and dancer, is a leading figure of the contemporary dance scene in Lebanon and the Arab world. He founded Maqamat in Beirut in 2002 and implemented the company in Lyon in December 2019. Omar Rajeh recently founded the highly anticipated new performing arts space in the heart of Beirut – Citerne Beirut – which after being forced to close its doors in 2019 became the digital cultural platform, which he founded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karine Polwart is a multi-award-winning Scottish songwriter, folk singer, composer, theatre-maker and published author. Recent projects include her Scottish Songbook-re-imaginings of classic Scottish pop; The Lost Words: Spell Songs, a multi-artist response to environmental loss and climate breakdown; and Wind Resistance, her peatbog-inspired theatre show for The Royal Lyceum/EIF. She has worked previously with the BBC SSO, Songs of Separation, author James Robertson, documentary-maker Anthony Baxter, and indie composer RM Hubbert. In 2020, both the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra have commissioned new works, in collaboration with sound designer/composer Pippa Murphy.

Nana Oforiatta Ayim is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. She is the founder and director of the cultural research organisation, ANO, in Ghana. After writing extensively on contemporary African arts and creating numerous research and exhibition projects internationally, she established ANO as a permanent centre in Ghana in 2012 In 2016, she created the online version of the pan-African Cultural Encyclopaedia, “a large-scale documentation and archive project, dedicated to the re/ordering of knowledge, narratives and representations from and about the African continent”.

Fergus Linehan has been Director and Chief Executive of the Edinburgh International Festival since 2015. Fergus was born in Dublin where he began his career in the theatre, producing many shows and going on to direct the city’s major arts event, the Dublin Theatre Festival. From 2004 to 2009, Fergus was Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Sydney Festival and from 2010 to 2012, he was Head of Music at Sydney Opera House. From 2012 to 2014, Fergus was Festival Director of Vivid LIVE, an annual event, celebrating ambition and innovation in popular music and digital art.

Edinburgh International Festival is the world’s leading performing arts festival, featuring the finest performers from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre. Created in 1947 to celebrate the enduring human spirit, the International Festival normally serves as an annual cultural exchange, every August, for an international audience exceeding 400,000 per year. 

The 2020 Edinburgh International Festival was cancelled for the first time in its history due to concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic but will pioneer the return to live performance in Scotland 7-29 August 2021 with 170 music, theatre, opera and dance performances. For more information visit