Media Release: Highlights from the 2014 Edinburgh International Culture Summit

SP Edinburgh Culture Summit

With a special closing performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo

THE second Edinburgh International Culture Summit at the Scottish Parliament has been hailed as a great success by participants and delegates.

The Summit brought together 25 international government delegations with speakers, art leaders and culture experts from across the world. It was recognised as a truly global collaboration on the current day role of culture and the arts.

An impassioned plea was heard over the three-day Summit 2014 for recognition of the importance of the arts and cultural contribution to society. In particular, there was a call for culture to be placed at the centre of government policy making and a more unified voice for the arts across the world.

In discussing the Summit theme ‘Culture – a Currency of Trust’ three key topics of values and measurements, cities and culture; and advocacy and identity formed the basis of the lively programme of discussions and presentations.

Culture Ministers from all corners of the globe joined an impressive array of arts leaders and cultural experts in an inspiring programme which featured a stellar line-up of speakers including Nandi Mandela, business woman and grand-daughter of Nelson Mandela; Benjamin Barber from the City University of New York, and Danielle Cliche, UNESCO – Secretary on Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, who read a speech written by Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO.

Other speakers included Simon Anholt, the world’s leading authority on national image and reputation, and a world leader on ultra-wide scale human engagement; Danilo Santos de Miranda, Sao Paolo Director of Brazilian arts funding agency Serviço Social do Comércio (SESC), Australian-based poet, philosopher and artist Paul Carter discussing ‘Place-making and Storytelling’ and cultural activist and arts manager, Basma El Husseiny.

There was a special presentation from Kent Larson, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s Changing Places Group on the latest tools and templates used for analysing urban environments, and French-Vietnamese artist, choreographer and writer Ea Sola gave a personal reflection on her work.

The opening ceremony was led by Jordi Savall, world-renowned musician accompanied by Hespèrion XXI musicians who performed works from the cosmopolitan traditions of peaceful co-existence inspired by the Caliphate of Cordoba.

Award-winning a cappella vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, described by Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s cultural ambassadors closed the Summit with an uplifting showpiece on Tuesday 12 August 2014.

Commenting on the Summit, Sir Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival and Programme director of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, said:

“The theme of the 2014 Summit has been somewhat provocative. At a time when economic systems have become forces unto themselves, and struggle to be perceived as either transparent or trustworthy, the thought that the creative outpouring of our civilizations might fill such an ethical vacuum and become a currency of trust seems appropriate, if a little confronting.

“The Edinburgh International Culture Summit is hosted by a city in which, for almost 70 years, cultural relationships of a most diverse and intense kind have been initiated and nurtured. I hope that from this Summit there will emerge a series of practical recommendations that are sensitive, sensible, and above all achievable.”

Speaking following the event, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP, Presiding Officer, said:

“It has been a joy to host the Edinburgh International Culture Summit at Holyrood – thought provoking contributions and inspirational speeches about the power and importance of culture in our world today.

“With the soaring voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo bringing the conference to a close, it remains only for us to say to friends and delegates from across the globe to haste ye back.”

Scottish Government Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, said:

“This year’s Culture Summit has been hugely inspirational, with delegates from all over the world discussing how culture can build a bridge between our nations. The meetings I had with other culture ministers helped to deepen and strengthen our international links.

“The Culture Summit gave us another opportunity to celebrate not only Scotland’s creativity, innovation and imagination but that of nations and countries across the globe, in the setting of a city and a country currently with energy, ideas and discussion, and at a time when the eyes of the world were already focused on Scotland for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and other events of 2014.”

UK Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, said:

“Culture in all its forms is a powerful and enduring thing which, at its finest, is endlessly rewarding and infinitely moving.  It brings people together through the common language of creativity and passion, transcending age, gender, race, nationality and class. So it is absolutely right that Governments around the world take time to come together and share experiences and thoughts on how to use its power for the good of all. This year’s summit has been a triumph.”

Chief executive, British Council, Sir Martin Davidson KCMG, noted:

“As well as establishing itself as an internationally leading cultural gathering in its second year, the Culture Summit revealed a call to action on several fronts, including a more unified, inclusive and confident voice for the arts, moving culture closer to the centre of government, and better measurement of cultural value and impact. In these ways, culture can become a more potent force in public policy and the sustainable development of social capital across the globe.”

** A short video clip of the Culture Summit highlights can be found at 

** Speeches delivered by the Summit’s guest speakers can be found at



Katy Jeffrey

Press Office

EdinburghInternational CultureSummit

T: +44 (0)131 348 6242

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Notes to Editor

  1. Photographs:
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo performing during the Closing session. Credit: Scottish Parliament.
  • Summit 2014 partners pictured (above) stitching the Peoples Panel which will be exhibited alongside the Great Tapestry of Scotland in the Scottish Parliament. [From L-R Ed Vaizey MP Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Sir Vernon Ellis chair British Council, Fiona Hyslop MSP, Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP, Sir Jonathan Mills director and chief executive of the Edinburgh International Festival, and Sir Martin Davidson CE British Council]. Credit: Scottish Parliament.

2. Summit 2014 was a collaboration between the British Council, Edinburgh International Festival, Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and UK Government.

3. Summit 2014 was gratefully supported by Programme Partners; the Aga Khan Foundation, AsiaLink, the United Cities and Local Government’s Agenda 21 for Culture, UNESCO and the MIT Media Lab.

4. provides information to delegates, visitors and all those with an interest in arts and cultural policy. It also hosts opinion articles from leading cultural figures from around the world, as well as live video streaming from the event.

5. The theme for this year’s Summit is ‘Culture – a Currency of Trust’ reflects the Summit 2014’s belief in the capacity of culture and the arts to foster mutual understanding between nations and among citizens.

6. This year’s programme offered plenary sessions in the Scottish Parliament Debating Chamber which were open to the public, and detailed private policy discussions around these three interlinking strands:

  • Values and Measurements: the principles of valuing culture and how to measure that value,
  • Cities and Culture: the role of cities as incubators of cultural innovation,
  • Advocacy and Identity: how culture and cultural diversity are best sustained, promoted and protected.

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Contact: Katy Jeffrey
Phone: 0131 348 6242