The role of IPAC in the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture.

« How can one create a global conversation on change that is relevant and responds to diverse voices, socio-political structures and cultural contexts? If shared knowledge, transnational cooperation and participatory practices inspired the theme Mobile Minds: Culture, Knowledge and Change, they also had to inform the programming of the Summit. IFACCA took an innovative approach to address these challenges for the 8th World Summit, with the support of the National Department for Arts and Culture (JKKN), Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia.

The co-hosts invited eight practitioners from six continents, working across diverse sectors within arts and culture, to join an International Programme Advisory Committee (IPAC) to advise on the design of the programme. This participatory model provided IFACCA and JKKN with the possibility to shape a programme that went beyond geographic borders and global representation. It drew on the knowledge, networks and expertise of cultural experts with international experience in policy making, public administration, academia and artistic practice. Above all, the Committee provided insights into regional specificities and thematic approaches that defined the overall narrative of the Summit. Our shared point of departure was cultural rights, which was deliberately chosen as our trajectory into a complex conversation on how we can mobilise minds to create our future.

Committee members met across nine different time zones and we were often hindered by technological mishaps. We expressed divergent views on numerous topics yet worked effortlessly towards an honest and open conversation. It is this honesty and openness – and perhaps some of the ‘radical honesty’ recommended by speaker Kristin Danielsen, Director of Arts Council Norway – that made the 8th World Summit a productive gathering of diverging and converging ideas. We did not intend to reconcile these ideas in the few days of the Summit, rather we intended to provide the time and space necessary to reflect on provocations, to be inspired by the unfamiliar, and to share knowledge that could change or shape something new elsewhere. As Stephen Wainwright, Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand, eloquently pointed out: ‘If we cannot articulate ourselves on how to create value, how can we expect to create value?’

Feedback from previous Summits called for greater participation by all delegates. Through the expertise and generosity of numerous facilitators and panellists, the programme delivered various participatory sessions which at times provided safe spaces for unsafe ideas – from the Lepak to highly engaging long table discussions and handson workshops – and we are incredibly pleased that the feedback suggests an overwhelming majority of delegates felt positive about their ability to participate in the programme.

As the gong sounded inside klpac, the official programme started, but more than 80 speakers were already engaged in deep conversation weeks in advance. They brought an infectious energy with them to Kuala Lumpur which reinvigorated us all. More than anything, they reminded us of the privilege we shared in being together for a few days and the collective responsibility we have to shape colliding forces into meaningful and truthful moments for ourselves and for those around us. On behalf the International Programme Advisory Committee, I take this opportunity to thank all the keynotes, provocateurs, speakers, panellists, facilitators, moderators and workshop leaders who brought life to the programme we imagined.

Toni Attard, Founder and Director of Culture Venture, served as Chair of the International Programme Advisory Committee of the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture.

The report of the Summit is available here

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