The value of culture and cultural exchange was writ large in the biggest Summit of its kind, which brought together 45 cultural delegations with over 80 speakers including Cultural Ministers, artists and practitioners from around the world to explore issues which effect every person in every nation of the world today in Scotland’s stunning Parliament building.
Successfully attracting delegations from 45 countries around the world from a hugely diverse range of nations including; the United States and Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Denmark, the Summit brought together a huge range of perspectives which demonstrated the intrinsic and extreme value of culture to people, countries and economies.
Country delegations in attendance: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, England, Finland, France, Gambia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Lithuania, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, USA, Wales and Zambia.
The opening session included Special Messages from The Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP (then Prime Minister of Great Britain).
The Summit then focused on three themes:
Theme 1: Culture in a Networked World
How can art and culture help us find common ground in a fractured world? As social networks and online platforms reach across the globe, a new universal understanding emerges as we learn what makes us different. The speed and multiplicity of digital communication transforms human relationships. Unheard voices find a platform and location no longer limits community, but this highly networked world makes demands on society in unprecedented ways. While some feel empowered by the changing global landscape, others are left behind. Reaching peace and prosperity in a radically shifting world will depend on an ethos rooted in the principles of internationalism, respect and mutuality. By exploring facets of our complex and plural identities, artists encourage citizens to understand and respect difference.
Theme 2: Culture and Investment
The provision of expensive and elaborate arts centres throughout the world is certainly politically attractive, but what of the art that brings these places to life? How should government policy balance investment in individual artists, creative communities, and buildings? At a time when difficult decisions need to be made about the allocation of modest resources for culture, the Summit will carefully consider the funding challenges facing policy-makers, artistic entrepreneurs and practicing artists alike. If cultural consumption and practice can happen on a street corner or an online video, what are the benefits of investing in artists, buildings, people and places?
Theme 3: Culture and Wellbeing
Can culture make a contribution to the health and wellbeing of human society? The sustainable provision of health care is a vital concern for governments around the world. A growing body of neurological and clinical research indicates that participation in cultural activity offers long-lasting benefits for a range of medical conditions. How can the social and economic benefits of arts in health programmes be understood and implemented by policy makers, commercial medical insurers and clinical practitioners? How can the arts improve health outcomes for traditionally marginalised or neglected communities? How can the arts effectively address issues of an ageing society as they relate to chronic illness, social inclusion and the management of healthcare costs? The Summit offers direct examples of the benefits cultural participation has for social and healthcare systems.