Media Release: New partnerships forged with world-wide organisations reinforcing global appeal of Edinburgh International Culture Summit

THE bar has been raised by the 2014 Edinburgh International Culture Summit with significant international interest from global cultural organisations, who join Summit 2014 as programme partners.

The second Edinburgh International Culture Summit will place a spotlight on the importance of international dialogue between policy-makers, artists and arts leaders and is bringing Culture Ministers and a range of eminent speakers to Edinburgh this August.

Speakers will include Ms Nandi Mandela, a businesswoman and grand-daughter of Nelson Mandela, and Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO.

New programme partners include the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI); United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) Committee on Culture – Agenda 21; and Asialink, who will bring a balance of voices representing multiple perspectives to the Summit.

In addition, the MIT Media Lab will also collaborate on this event. Together these organisations will bring a fresh wave of interest to complement the unique collaboration of the five founding partners, the British Council; Edinburgh International Festival; Scottish and UK Governments and Scottish Parliament.

Sir Jonathan Mills, director of Edinburgh International Festival, commenting on the breadth of interest the summit has attracted so far, said: “Global cultural organisations are really engaging with the summit, as we are witnessing with this incredible interest from our new programme partners.

“These collaborations are mutually advantageous – bringing us access to an even wider range of cultural expertise and artist networks but also giving them a platform for cultural dialogue at a particularly dynamic time during the Edinburgh Festivals.”

Joining the core group of summit artists and speakers is Basma El Husseiny, who has been an arts manager and cultural activist in the Arab regions for 20 years and who will focus on the topic of advocacy and identity.

Commenting on the new programme partnership, Fairouz Nishanova, director of the Aga Khan Music Initiative, said: “The Aga Khan Music Initiative is honoured and delighted to be a programme partner of the Culture Summit.

“My hope is that our experience in creating and implementing strategies for cultural development in the Muslim world can contribute to the cultural dialogue that will take place during the summit, and to innovative thinking about the role of culture in civic life both in the global north and south.”

Jordi Pascual, founding coordinator of the Committee on Culture of the world organisation of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) added: “We are pleased to have become partners with the Edinburgh International Culture Summit.

“The global debate on the role of culture in sustainable development needs champions and key moments. I am convinced that the Edinburgh International Culture Summit is a perfect moment in 2014.”

Jenny Mcgregor, founding CEO of Asialink at The University of Melbourne and founding executive director of the Asia Education Foundation, commented: “Asialink Arts is delighted to be a programme partner for the Edinburgh International Culture Summit.

“We are delighted with the global focus of the discussions and the opportunity to invite key participants from the countries of Asia, many of which are currently making major investments in cultural infrastructure and cultural exchange programs.”

In addition, Kent Larson, principal research scientist at MIT Media Lab’s ‘Changing Places’ research group, will speak on one of the Summit themes, Cities and Culture.

His current research is focused on four related areas: responsive urban housing, new urban vehicles, ubiquitous technologies, and living lab experiments.

“The MIT Media Lab is pleased to be a collaborator for the Edinburgh International Culture Summit”, said Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab.

“This is a superb opportunity for creative thinkers from throughout the world to join forces to innovate in new ways – at the edges – and strengthen our shared commitment to bringing unconventional solutions to global issues.”

Recent speaker announcements also included Robyn Archer, prolific Australian writer and performer; Saskia Sassen, writer and thought leader; Michael Power, author of seminal work, ‘The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification’; and internationally-renowned musician, Jordi Savall.


Contact details

Fiona Stewart

Communications manager

Edinburgh International Culture Summit

T: +44 (0)131 348 6247

M: +44 (0) 7940 560453

F: +44 (0)131 348 6925


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Notes to editors:

Founding partners:

The summit is a collaboration between the Scottish Government, UK Government, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh International Festival and British Council. It will bring together Culture Ministers with prominent artists, thinkers and others involved in developing and implementing cultural policy and will place a spotlight on the importance of international dialogue between policy-makers, artists and arts leaders.

Programme Partnerships for 2014

The Aga Khan Music Initiative

The Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI) is an interregional music and arts education program with worldwide performance, outreach, mentoring, and artistic production activities. The Initiative was launched by His Highness the Aga Khan to support talented musicians and music educators working to preserve, transmit, and further develop their musical heritage in contemporary forms – and in recognition of the historically unique and vital role music and musicians have played in the cultures of Central Eurasia and the Middle East. Music traditionally has served not only as entertainment, but as a way to reinforce social and moral values. Musicians have provided models of exemplary leadership, whether by bringing listeners closer to God, sustaining cultural memory through epic tales, or strengthening the bonds of community through festivity and celebration.

The Aga Khan Music Initiative began its work in Central Asia, with projects in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and subsequently expanded its cultural development activities to include artistic communities and audiences in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and West Africa. The Initiative designs and implements a country-specific set of activities for each country into which it invests, and works to promote revitalization of cultural heritage both as a source of livelihood for musicians and as a means to strengthen pluralism in nations where it is challenged by social, political, and economic constraints.

The AKMI is a programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The Trust, in turn, serves as the cultural development agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the world’s largest development networks, and the only one that prioritizes cultural development on a par with economic and social development in all of its projects and commitments.

Agenda 21 for culture – UCLG ‘s Committee on Culture

UCLG, United Cities and Local Governments, plays a major role in the promotion of the place of culture in sustainable development. The Agenda 21 for culture, promoted by the UCLG Committee on Culture, is the first document at a world level to set out the principles and commitments of cities and local governments for sustainable cultural development: culture, diversity, creativity.

At present, more than 500 cities, territories and organisations all over the world are engaged in the Agenda 21 for culture and in the promotion of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, unanimously approved at the UCLG World Congress held in Mexico in 2010, thereby advocating for an integrated approach to development that pays attention and balances economic feasibility, social equity, environmental responsibility and cultural

Asialink is Australia’s leading centre for building Asia capability, public understanding of Asia, and appreciation of Australia’s role in the Asian region. Asialink works with business, government, philanthropic and cultural partners to initiate and strengthen Australia-Asia engagement on all levels and across all sectors. It aims to build an Asia-capable, deeply Asia-engaged Australia through thought leadership and innovative programs that build knowledge, skills and partnerships.

Asialink was founded in 1990 with the support of The Myer Foundation and The University of Melbourne. It established a Sydney office in 2013 and its Asialink Leaders Program runs each year in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Its arts arm – Asialink Arts – helps to provide opportunities for cultural exchange between Australia and Asia and improve the Asia capability of the cultural sector based on the principles of partnership, collaboration and reciprocity.

MIT Media Lab – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Actively promoting a unique, anti-disciplinary culture, the MIT Media Lab goes beyond known boundaries and disciplines, encouraging the most unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. It creates disruptive technologies that happen at the edges, pioneering such areas as wearable computing, tangible interfaces, and affective computing. Today, faculty members, research staff, and students at the Lab work in more than 25 research groups on more than 350 projects that range from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, to a stackable, electric car for sustainable cities, to advanced imaging technologies that can ‘see around a corner’. The Lab is committed to looking beyond the obvious to ask the questions not yet asked–questions whose answers could radically improve the way people live, learn, express themselves, work, and play.

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Contact: Fiona Stewart
Phone: 01313486247