Culture Summit 2017 Abu Dhabi Concludes with an Action Agenda for the Future


CultureSummit 2017 Abu Dhabi concluded today following four days of rich and lively discussion with over 300 of the world’s top creative minds from over 80 countries. The global cultural leadership forum delivered on its founding vision by tackling some of the most challenging issues of our time, and exploring ways in which culture and the arts can address today’s societal and political challenges.

Curated under the theme ‘Culture as a Change Agent in the Digital Age’, the panel conversations were focused on collaboration between various disciplines; how technology can shape the future of global policy and how the arts and culture play into the changing landscape, and how cultural ties bind us all together into one global community, among many other topics and themes.

“CultureSummit 2017 has consolidated the UAE and Abu Dhabi’s position as a global center for the ongoing exchange of ideas and constructive discussion to support a happy, safe and peaceful society for all. The inspiring conversations that took place over the course of the week have not only addressed important cultural topics and some of today’s most pressing challenges, but have helped build new partnerships which contribute to finding innovative ways of strengthening the role culture and new technologies can play in building societies. We look forward to seeing these being translated into policies that encourage continuous creativity and social development,” noted HE Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and Chairwoman, Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi & Twofour54.

The summit’s action-orientated agenda, which included daily workshop sessions to further explore the challenges and issues discussed in the plenary, demonstrated the immense diversity of attendees who participated in the discussions and ensured broad perspectives were considered, and incorporated, in the outcomes. Working groups prepared an action agenda defining future actions by the collected participants and laid the foundation for a global collaborative cultural initiative. Subsequent outcomes included a commitment to developing a collaborative web-based platform to foster ongoing cross-cultural conversation and the creation of metrics which can more accurately measure cultural imapct.

“As home to more than 180 nationalities, Abu Dhabi, with its truly multicultural social fabric, was the ideal location to gather cultural experts from over 80 different countries to discuss and debate the impact that culture and the arts can have on socio-economic challenges across the world. Over the past week we have witnessed the importance that cultural dialogue and artistic expression plays in building partnerships of mutual understanding between people from diverse cultures and traditions. The wealth of knowledge shared, and the calibre of informed and impassioned discussion that has taken place over the past four days has been both eye-opening and humbling. However CultureSummit 2017 is just the start of a long journey. We are committed to ensuring that we harness and protect our collective cultures for generations to come,” commented HE Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority during his closing remarks.

David Rothkopf, CEO and editor of the FP Group said, “We set out with an ambitious goal—to produce something like a Davos of culture.  But I think in the end, thanks to our partners and each of the participants, we did better than that.  We convened a community unlike any other, one dedicated to using their exceptional creativity to address some of the most important challenges we as a planet face.  In so doing, they reminded us that culture is not “soft power”…it is perhaps the greatest form of power on the planet, the power to change beliefs and move people to action.”

The CultureSummit 2017 Cultural Diplomat Award Winners were awarded at a ceremony during the event. Each winner was selected on the basis of their contributions to the practice of cultural diplomacy–either as individuals or on behalf of their organizations. They included HE Dr. Anwar Bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, UAE; HE Dr. Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the Cultural Advisor at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs; Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State; El Sistema, creators of the El Sistema youth orchestra program (represented by Eduardo Méndez, Executive Director, Simon Bolivar Music Foundation); Sesame Workshop, producers of Sesame Street worldwide (represented by Sherrie Westin, executive vice president, Global Impact and Philanthropy); and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the legendary orchestra initiative (represented by Tabaré Perlas, CEO, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra).

A unique component of CultureSummit included a wide range of performances from world-renowned artists, singers, dancers, poets, and DJs. The performers brought an alternative dimension to the global gathering which convened many individuals who had the unique chance to collaborate and work together.

Carla Dirlikov Canales, CEO and Artistic Director of TCP Ventures, LLC, said, “We are especially proud of the 18 performances that were woven throughout the event that presented an exceptional range of local and international artists of the highest caliber, and the wonderful visual artists who presented their work in our gallery.  They each embodied CultureSummit’s ideals of harnessing the power of art to advance vital social good.” 

CultureSummit 2017 concluded with a special performance by The Way of the Rain. Conceived by world-renowned environmental artist Sibylle Szaggars Redford to explore the issue of climate change, the live performance art experience comprised of paintings, music, dance, film and spoken word is a homage to planet Earth.

The Way of the Rain is a collaboration, not only with natural rainfall, but of different art forms. A moving, abstract, staged painting that transcends politics and allows the audience to discover the meaning of it on their own terms. It brings a hopeful message that raises consciousness and reminds us of our physical and spiritual connection to our planet’s plight and beauty. The performance was created by Sibylle Szaggars Redford and Grammy Award winning and nominated artists Will Calhoun, Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer.  The show at CultureSummit 2017 was choreographed by South African Natalie Fisher, produced by South African Cecile Lipworth and featured dancers Kiori Kawai and David Nelson from Abu Dhabi. 

CultureSummit 2017, which is a multi-year project, was organized by TCA Abu Dhabi in conjunction with The FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy magazine, and TCP Ventures, LLC, a cultural advisory firm. Details of follow-up initiatives and the 2018 edition will be announced in due course.



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