Representatives from around the world discuss the harmonising effects of culture and the arts
The first Edinburgh International Culture Summit began yesterday, with representatives from all over the world converging on the Scottish Parliament to discuss how culture and the arts can bridge the divide between nations. A joint venture by the Scottish and UK Governments, British Council and Edinburgh International Festival, the two-day event is playing host to culture ministers and well-known artists from 30 countries including Brazil, Japan, Russia and the USA, and developing nations such as Malawi, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Zambia. On the agenda are plenary sessions, streamed live online, and policy discussions.
Central to the summit is the idea that culture ‘promotes dialogue amongst nations irrespective of other external events’. To this end, countries at the heart of recent conflicts such as Iraq and Northern Ireland, are taking part in debates on achieving reconciliation through cultural activities.
‘At a time when so many nations are striving to secure a peaceful existence and equal human rights for their citizens, culture is able to translate these ideas into a common language that transcends societal differences,’ said Scotland’s culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.
‘The Olympics and the London 2012 Festival have been fantastic celebrations of UK culture and clearly illustrated the role that the arts can play in bringing nations closer together,’ continued the UK’s culture minister Ed Vaizey.
Yesterday’s opening ceremony featured Scotland's Liz Lochhead reading from Robert Burns's A Man's A Man For A' That and a performance by the National Youth Choir of Scotland. Amongst the topics up for discussion today is music education in East Timor schools, led by media executive and philanthropist Harold Mitchell.