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August 14, 2012 (TSR) – Fourty Culture Ministers and speakers from around the world gathered for the first Edinburgh International Culture Summit to discuss and debate the power and profile of culture in forging and fostering international relationships on August 13th and 14th.
Israel is banned from attending the event.
The summit, which is being held for the next two days at the Scottish Parliament, is a collaboration between the Scottish Government, the UK Government, the Edinburgh International Festival and the British Council.
The concept that culture is a bridge that promotes dialogue amongst nations, irrespective of other external events, lies at the heart of the Summit. Culture ministers, artists and others involved in developing and implementing cultural policy will be given the opportunity to discuss the power, position and profile of the arts, culture and creative industries, and their role in encouraging dialogue among nations.
The Summit theme is ‘Culture as an International Dialogue’ and the programme has been devised around three strategic strands:
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou is among the keynote speakers and will lead a discussion on the role of culture and the arts in fostering international dialogue between cultures and nations, as well as outlining the Commission’s proposed new €1.8 billion funding programme in support of the cultural and creative sectors, ‘Creative Europe’. The Creative Europe proposal is now under discussion by the Council (27 Member States) and the European Parliament who will take the final decision on the budgetary framework for 2014-2020.
Commissioner Vassiliou said: “Culture and the arts have the power to transform individual lives and help bring countries together. The over-arching aim of the European Union’s policy in this area is to promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, to unlock the potential of culture for creativity and innovation, and to make full use of culture in developing relations across the world. The challenge for Europe is how to sustain diversity where the economic and technological force of globalisation often results in homogenisation. Culture represents a public good in which every citizen has a stake and I believe that the case for public intervention is as strong today as it has ever been; the markets alone cannot deliver all that a civilised society needs.
“Our new Creative Europe programme will help the cultural and creative sectors to adapt to the challenges of globalisation and to exploit the opportunities of digitisation, through new business models and new skills. I look forward to enriching discussions in Edinburgh.”
Some of the world’s major economic powerhouses – including Brazil, Japan, Russia and the USA – are at the two-day Summit, which features plenary sessions in the Parliament’s Debating Chamber streamed live over the Internet, as well as policy discussions between countries.
They are joined by delegates from developing nations, including Malawi, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Zambia.
Countries with current or recent experiences of conflict – including Iraq and Northern Ireland – is taking part in debates on how culture can act as a bridge between divided communities and assist in reconciliation.
Delegations attending are from the European Commission, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Guernsey, Ireland, Jersey, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Uganda and Wales.
The Summit opened yesterday afternoon 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.
Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:
“In the Year of Creative Scotland, we are honoured to welcome Government Ministers from around the world to the first-ever International Culture Summit held during the biggest and greatest arts festivals in the world in Edinburgh.
“At a time when so many nations are striving to secure a peaceful existence and equal human rights for their citizens, culture is able to translate these ideas into a common language that transcends societal differences.
“As a meeting of nations, this Culture Summit illustrates how Scotland cherishes and nurtures these ideals, showing that principle and human values lie at the heart of our constitutional journey.
“Culture and the arts are also powerful tools in building long-term relationships and trust between nations. This Summit celebrates and enhances Scotland’s credentials as a responsible global citizen.
“That is why I am delighted that so many Culture Ministers, artists, thinkers and policymakers have come to Edinburgh, to discuss and explore how the arts can transform and enrich the lives of people around the world and contribute to peace and the wellbeing of nations.”
UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“The Olympics and the London 2012 Festival have been fantastic celebrations of UK culture, and clearly illustrated the role that the arts can play in bringing nations closer together.
“I am therefore delighted that so many nations will be represented at this, the first ever International Culture Summit, and look forward to the discussions that will follow.”
Martin Davidson, chief executive of the British Council, said: “The Edinburgh International Culture Summit is an historic and unprecedented event.
“As the UK’s cultural relations body, the British Council understands that culture acts as a bridge between nations, breaks down barriers and crosses political divides, allowing people worldwide to relate to our common humanity.”
Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, said: “A summit focusing on mutual cultural interests and shared human values is both timely and appropriate and I look forward to the debates and discussions over these two days and to learning from nations and cultures from around the world.”
2.30pm – Welcome to Scottish Parliament and Culture Summit. Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP opens the Summit. Scots Makar Liz Lochhead reads Robert Burns’ poem ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’. Welcome speeches from Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP and UK Government Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP. National Youth Choir of Scotland National Girls Choir perform ‘Cantate Domino! Alleluia!’ by Cristi Cary Miller.
3pm-4pm – Plenary in Debating Chamber. Theme: the role of the arts and culture in deepening and broadening our understanding of complex relationships between cultures and nations. Speaker: Androulla Vassiliou; Artist Voices: Amir Nizar Zuabi and Haris Pašovi?.
10am-11am – Plenary in Debating Chamber. Theme: sustaining private and public support for culture. Speakers: Harold Mitchell and HE Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo.
2.15pm-3.25pm – Plenary in the Debating Chamber. Theme: skills for the future, for the creative industries and the role of technology. Speakers: Jasleen Dhamija, Ian Livingstone, Professor Moshe Kam and Richard Harper.
5pm-5.45pm – Closing remarks in Debating Chamber from British Council chair Sir Vernon Ellis and Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills.