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Leading culture at Edinburgh Festivals

On 22nd August 2019, over 200 delegates joined Visiting Arts’ Edinburgh Programme  – consisting of the International Producers’ Breakfast, Asia-Europe Foundation Unplugged: Edinburgh & Fringe Central: International Exchange networking and discussion events, which focused on the topic of cultural leadership and international exchange. The events were organised in partnership with Creative Scotland, Edinburgh International Festival, ASEF, Clore Leadership Programme, CINARS & Québec Government Office in London, and Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Speakers included Pooja Sood (Founder, Khoj International Artists’ Association), Hilary Carty (Director, Clore Leadership Programme), Anupama Sekhar (Director, Culture Department, ASEF), Alain Paré (Director, CINARS), and Francesca Hegyi OBE (EIF).

In response to Visiting Arts’ survey prior to the Edinburgh Programme 2019, the network recognised cultural leadership in 2019 to be “crucial”, “exciting”, “diverse” & “resilient”, but also “ill-defined”, “evolving” & “facing new challenges”

The top leadership concerns that emerged are:
1. Diversity & inclusion;
2. Financial sustainability and resilience;
3. Making a case for the value of the arts
(at number 7. is environmental sustainability).

Listen to the ASEF Unplugged panel discussion here:

See photos from the event on Facebook. Photography by Robbie Jack.

Continue the conversation on Twitter #VAPB2019.

Hilary Carty, Director Clore Leadership, gave the keynote speech on Cultural Leadership. Carty concluded her keynote by saying that:

Leading culture requires you to observe the wider environment, acknowledge the sector context and imagine a new – a possible, a different future. It is demanding and challenging. It is also one of the ways we can change lives and create new narratives to make sense of our world. So let’s fill our toolkit with leadership skills. Let’s network and share, keep breaking down those barriers and create joint cause. We know culture transforms, so let’s use our cultural leadership to create the world we want, not just settle for the world we have.”

After the speeches, Yvette Vaughan Jones announced that she is stepping down as CEO.

Visiting Arts also organised a Scotland familiarisation visit for a delegation of cultural diplomats in partnership with Creative Scotland between 21-23rd August 2019. The three-day visit gave the group the opportunity to make contact with representatives of the main Edinburgh festivals and other key institutions in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. The delegation explored options for creative exchange, and gained an overview of the arts and culture offer in Scotland. The visit included a welcome and context setting with The Right Honourable Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Creative Scotland followed by a meeting with the Cultural Diplomacy Partnership, a visit to Cove Park in Helensburgh and meetings with arts and cultural operators at V&A Dundee, Glasgow Life, GOMA, Tramway & CCA. There were representatives from the Austrian Cultural Forum, High Commission of Canada, Canada Arts Presentation Fund, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United Kingdom, Embassy of Estonia in London, Embassy of Sweden in London, Embassy of Mongolia in London, Quebec Government Office in London, and CultureLink Singapore.

See VA’s history in Edinburgh.

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