Edinburgh International Culture Summit Concludes
The first-ever Edinburgh International Culture Summit was hailed a resounding success by organisers after the event drew to a close today.
Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP, UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson and Edinburgh International Festival Director Jonathan Mills praised the quality of debate during the two-day event, hosted at the Scottish Parliament.
They expressed optimism about the potential for hosting future Culture Summits.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP said:
"The lively debates and fascinating discussions of the past two days have demonstrated that culture is a hugely powerful means of international dialogue, one that enriches the lives of people around the world and contributes to the wellbeing of nations.
"This inaugural Edinburgh International Culture Summit has undoubtedly enhanced Scotland’s reputation as one of the world’s most creative nations and a good global citizen.
"I very much hope that there will be another event of this kind in Edinburgh in the near future, possibly in 2014."
UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:
"The Olympic opening and closing ceremonies showcased UK culture to the world, but also reminded us what a talented and creative nation we are.
"The Summit was a unique opportunity to engage with culture ministers from around the world, to debate the importance of culture and to exchange views on the most effective ways governments can promote it.
"I hope we will build on this and have regular exchanges in the years to come."
Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council, said:
"The Edinburgh International Culture Summit has given nations a chance to come together in a spirit of cooperation to share their ideas on how we safeguard and enhance the position of culture as a key factor in global relations.
"As the UK’s cultural relations body, the importance of culture in promoting international dialogue and exchange is central to what we do.
"The British Council is delighted to have been a partner in the Summit."
Jonathan Mills, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh International Festival, said:
"Against the backdrop of the world’s greatest arts Festivals in Scotland’s capital city, I believe the Edinburgh International Culture Summit has been a great success.
"I very much hope that this success will result in future summits in this very natural home for the event.
"I am also confident the bilaterals and meetings, which are an important part of the summit, will bear fruit in the future.
"Undoubtedly it has increased awareness of the role that Festivals and culture already play in developing understanding and confidence between nations which lead to enhanced relationships not only in the cultural sector but much more widely."
Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP said:
"The inspiring, entertaining and, at times, moving sessions of this Summit have demonstrated all too clearly why culture is so important, especially in these difficult times.
"Many delegates have reflected to me that Edinburgh has felt a natural home for these cultural reflections, given the backdrop of the city’s Festivals.
"It has been a delight to welcome so many nations from across the world to our Scottish Parliament and share our Chamber for these significant discussions."
Today’s proceedings started with a debate on sustaining private and public support for culture, with Harold Mitchell, founder of the Harold Mitchell Foundation and executive chairman of Australia's biggest media broker, Aegis Media Pacific.
Mr Mitchell pointed to the example of East Timor, where – in partnership with former President and current Prime Minister XananaGusmao – he helped establish music education in schools through personal philanthropy following the island state’s independence in 2002.
He said: "In a world where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, I encourage the rich to give more – and every single person to give according to their means.
"I am a true believer that each and every one of us has the power to make a difference."
The theme was developed by Her Excellency Hoda Al KhamisKanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF).
Mrs Kanoo said: "ADMAF was among the first not-for-profit cultural organisations in the UAE.
"It remains a rare breed – one that seeks to advance Abu Dhabi’s vision and nurture society through the arts, education, culture and creativity."
Mrs Kanoo added: "With its climate of stability, the emirate of Abu Dhabi is building bridges between East and West, between the moderate and the hardline, and between the liberal and the authoritarian. We are all building bridges."
In today’s second session – a debate on the central role of technological skills in the creative industries – Ian Livingstone, life president of Eidos, discussed the importance of equipping young people with computer skills so they can fully participate in the digital age.
JasleenDhamija, a distinguished historian from New Delhi, told delegates how a billion people worked in traditional craft industries around the world, passing their skills from generation to generation.
Ms Dhamija said: "Today a galaxy of ministers of culture, artists, thinkers and social scientists are gathered together to address the role of culture in facing global challenges.
"I would like to reach out to all of you to recognise the importance of this sector which not only addresses our economic problems but which provides a new format for our educational system to tap available skills."
Richard Harper, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and Professor Moshe Kam, Past President of theInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, also expanded on the technology theme.
The Summit – a collaboration between the Scottish Government, UK Government, British Council and Edinburgh International Festival – was opened yesterday by the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP, with welcoming remarks from Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP and UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP.
Commissioner AndroullaVassiliou, Member of the European Commission for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, HarisPašović, artistic leader of the East West Centre, Sarajevo, and Amir NizarZuabi, a writer and leading theatre director in the Middle East, then discussed the role of the arts in fostering international dialogue between cultures and nations.