YOUSSOU N’Dour, the Grammy Award-winning songwriter and former minister of culture for Senegal, flies into Scotland this week for a public talk as part of this year’s Edinburgh International Culture Summit.

He will be joined by 60 speakers from countries all over the world for the biggest and most diverse summit in the history of the event. This year it includes its first ever youth programme, which will feature 40 young artists and artistic entrepreneurs from the four UK home nations.

The main summit sessions are open to the public and along with N’Dour will be addressed by speakers such as Professor Maamoun Abdulkarim, the director of general antiquities and museums in Syria, and David Leventhal, programme director and founding teacher of Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD programme, which provides dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease in New York.

Attending the summit at the Scottish Parliament will be world leaders in the cultural sector from more than 40 countries including the US, Spain, Singapore, Rwanda, New Zealand, Italy, Bangladesh, Slovenia and Ukraine.


THIS year’s programme has three distinct, interlinking strands: culture and heritage, culture and economics and culture and participation.

Other speakers include Francesco Bandarin, Unesco’s assistant director-general for culture; Prince Amyn Aga Khan of the Aga Khan Development Network; Susan Fayad, co-ordinator of heritage strategy in Ballarat, Australia; Li Xin, deputy director of the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region; Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage; Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre; Mike Power, professor of accounting at the London School of Economics; Suhair Khan, head of UK partnerships at Google Cultural Institute, London; Michael Orlove, director of international activities at National Endowment for the Arts; Matthew Peacock, artistic director of Streetwise Opera; and Jay Wang, director of the Centre on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.

It is hoped the summit will give ministers and senior policy-makers the opportunity to share global best practice in order to develop relevant, effective policies, designed to achieve lasting impact.

“I see the role of the Scottish Parliament as a vital one in supporting culture and through this summit we are at the heart of and providing a platform for international debate,” said Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP.


THE Youth Programme delegates have been selected from nine organisations including King’s College London, the Royal Conservatoire Scotland, Youth Arts Voice Scotland, Curious Minds, Edinburgh Festival Fringe artists and staff, Festival Academy Europe, Youth Action Northern Ireland, European Youth Forum and the UK Youth Parliament.

Delegates will have the opportunity to engage directly with culture ministers in policy discussions, particularly focusing on the areas of education, skills development and employment.

“For the first time ever, young people will also be given a prominent voice in the culture summit,” said Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs. “The Scottish Government’s ambition is for Scotland to be the best place to grow up, with every child being given the best chance to succeed. We can all learn from our young people and I look forward to hearing their contributions.”

The Edinburgh International Culture Summit, which runs from tomorrow to Friday, is a collaboration between the British Council, Edinburgh International Festival, Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government and UK Government, delivered on behalf of the partners by the Edinburgh International Culture Summit Foundation.


THE inaugural Edinburgh International Culture Summit in 2012 was judged a resounding success, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for cultural exchange, both between practitioners and policy-makers and between separate nation states.

Summit 2016 is expected to build on the foundations of the previous culture summits to encourage further sharing of ideas, debates and future collaborations.

“With delegations from 43 countries in attendance, this is arguably the most significant Edinburgh International Culture Summit to date,” said Sir Ciarán Devane, British Council chief executive. “The need to engage with issues surrounding cultural heritage, cultural participation and the resilience of communities is greater than ever – issues which affect us all. It is fitting that this year’s EICS will provide a truly global perspective on how best to reflect and respect the diversity of identities and cultures that co-exist in our world.”

Sir Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit Foundation, added: “The theme of Summit 2016 – Culture: Building Resilient Communities – reflects the summit’s strong belief in the vital role that culture plays in the life of any successful community.

“It also acknowledges that how one defines that success is a matter of cultural, linguistic and environmental difference. I hope that the summit will emphasise the importance of artistic exchange in a world that is increasingly complex and multi-lateral.”