7th World Summit on Arts and Culture / Malta 2016

Akademske | 28.10.2016. 00:00

The closing session of the World Summit, titled “What next? Leading for the future”, was moderated in a very interactive way by Robert Palmer, an internationally highly respected consultant in a wide range of areas – from cultural policy and strategy to organisational development, creative economy and development of the cities.  There were four short interventions by prominent speakers. Below are some highlights:

Milena Dragičević Šešić, Head of UNESCO Chair in Interculturalism, Art Management and Mediation, University of Belgrade, emphasized that the greatest risk of leadership is to look only at ourselves, our personal interest, our organization well-being. She expressed in a passionate way that leaders have to challenge and open up new horizons, and to be bold enough to reveal cultural conflicts and to debate and dialogue around possible solutions (to discuss censorship and autocensorship, limits of artistic freedom even in the Western world, or participation in cultural events organized within political agenda).  She made it clear that the real leader of tomorrow has to open platforms for civic imagination to be heard and seen, to act as catalyst, to offer new challenging ideas, to go beyond the usual. Milena stated that the future leaders must go beyond our usual frameworks, organisations, networks, nations, and that cultural leadership should be a real social process, enabling others to grow. As always, she was sharp, thoughtful, insightful, and considering the broader international perspective.

Rosemary Mangope, Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Council of South Africa, expressed the viewpoint that “Leadership is not about a single voice or individual position, but about collaborative efforts. It is about the ability to articulate your idea and share it with the world.”

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources of Vanuatu Ralph Ragenvanu stressed that “development” means that whatever we have, it is not good enough and the reason why the development plans have not worked well in many cases is that culture has been left behind. He added that “cultural communities need space to create and we need to be able to provide these spaces”.

Ivan Petrella, Secretary for Federal Integration and International Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture in Argentina spoke thoughtfully about the need for public policy for culture that addresses the issues in the 21st century from global perspective, while considering also the localities.


The audience took an active part in the discussion that followed the presentations, answering the question that Bob raised: “What are the new mechanisms, talents and approaches that we need in the next 10 years?” As it is impossible to summarize the very diverse viewpoints, or to make a conclusion, here are some of the highlights which I recorded during the session, with an apology that not all names of these interventions are documented:

  • Leadership is about accepting responsibility to create conditions for others to be able to achieve goals in times of uncertainty.
  • It is important that leaders take risk and inspire changes.
  • Leaders are not created by leadership programs but by the communities who are seeking better destiny (Simon Brault).
  • Identity matters, and it is related with the values that we, as cultural leaders, create and disseminate (Elena Di Federico).
  • The leader is the best when people barely know that he/she exists.
  • Arts and culture are capable to change someone who can then change the world: it is the catalyzing effect that we try to reach out (Carla Delfos).
  • Leadership is a question of power. The power for change can come from everywhere. Leaders’ responsibility to see where the power for change is, and to catalyze it (Simon Brault).
  • We as cultural leaders, who have values and principles, have to stand and to defend human rights.
  • We are here to change the world through the arts, and this is our mission.
  • We need to open up culture and arts to other sectors, such as agriculture, food industry, tourism (Diane Dodd).
  • Our task as cultural leaders is to consider collaboration and to be aware about the role of education (Alexandra Uzelac).
  • The inter-generational connections are important as they are about transmitting the knowledge and bringing to the accumulated expertise a new energy. It is important to make a space for the young leaders.
  • It is important when we go back to our offices on Monday to use the energy in this room to take real actions.

20161020_074511Much more than what I wrote above was expressed and shared during the World Summit. The intensive two and a half days in the Malta allowed us to share diverse viewpoints, cultural practices and policy models from many countries. It was a great platform for establishing new contacts and meeting old friends. Ideas for joined cross-country experiences also popped up….The excellent organization and warm hospitality of our colleagues from Arts Council Malta made the 7th World Summit a memorable event and a treasure to keep in our hearts!

20161018_193552I left the room in the last day with the thought that I would like to see cultural leaders as role models for other sectors to follow…On my wishlist is also to work for seeking emerging and unknown cultural leaders from isolated regions of the world who do not have the means to travel and to help them to advance. I wish that each one of us in the cultural sector and beyond is more generous in spreading the accumulated knowledge, information, contacts and funding to support diverse forms of cultural leadership worldwide. And where relevant, to step-by-step prepare succession plans for the next generation(s) to follow….

Tags: cooperation, crossing boundaries, cultural leadership, IFACCA, policy