Culture in Vibrant Communities

You can view the introduction and welcome to Culture and Social Cohesion HERE

Culture plays an undeniably vital role in tackling inequality, displacement and prejudice, and in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic it has never been more important for us to engage in culture in order to connect with other, inspire hope and enable healing.

At this year’s special edition of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, a group of Syrian refugees now living in Glasgow, will discuss their involvement with The Trojan Woman Project, which has been creating joint therapeutic drama and advocacy projects for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Europe and the UK since 2013.

The Trojan Woman Project was founded by the award-winning foreign correspondent and film-maker Charlotte Eagar and her husband, the award-winning filmmaker William Stirling. Inspired by years of working with refugees with the aim to address multiple social and personal issues often experienced by refugees while in exile, at this year’s Culture Summit, Charlotte and William discuss how the Trojan Woman Project came about and audiences will hear from two of the key performers.

You can view the Trojan Woman Project video HERE

Andrew Gilmore is Executive Director of the Berghof Foundation, an organisation based in Berlin involved in mediation and conflict transformation at all levels of society and government. Andrew will share his experience of conflict, what causes it and how certain conflicts have affected different communities and human rights as a whole, garnered in both his current role and his previous role as United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. Andrew believes that our quest for universal human rights has faltered

You can view Andrew Gilmore’s video HERE

One key area of culture fundamental to the cohesiveness of societies of all sizes and in all corners of the globe, is that of literature. Stories, both fictional and true, allow us to see the world through the eyes of others, allowing us draw parallels with our own lives. No individual shares exactly the same story or experience and it is in accepting and embracing this multiplicity of identity that we can truly achieve equality and social cohesion.

Elif Shafak is an award-winning author who grew up in France and Turkey and who, throughout the course of her life, has travelled extensively across the US and Europe, before settling in London. A passionate social activist, Elif believes in the power of literature and stories in embracing and sharing the multiplicity of identity, which she says is vital in achieving a cohesive and egalitarian society. We should not, she insists, seek out homogeneous spaces, but rather embrace the differences we have, while sharing the common causes. Literature is, she says, one of the very last democratic spaces in a world and the novel an essential tool in imagining a better future, where multiplicity reigns.

You can view Elif Shafak’s video HERE

Leah Pisar is President of The Aladdin Project, which combats extremism by teaching the universal lessons of the Holocaust and building bridges of knowledge among Jews, Christians, and Muslim. She is also is also the daughter of the youngest survivor to come out of the Nazi concentration camps. At this year’s Culture Summit, Leah discusses the importance of culture in enabling us to understand history and in doing so, each other. It is through reading and talking about events and experiences, in an open, non-combative and unprejudiced way, that we are able to live in harmony, despite our differences.

You can view Leah’s video HERE

About the Edinburgh International Culture Summit

The Edinburgh International Culture Summit is a biennial ministerial forum established in 2012 by the Edinburgh International Festival in a unique partnership with the British Council, Scottish Parliament and the Scottish and UK Governments. The Summit is devised and produced on behalf of its partners by an independent charity – Edinburgh International Culture Summit Foundation.

The Edinburgh International Culture Summit brings together Culture Ministers, artists, thinkers and arts leaders from around the world to share ideas, expertise and best practice, with a view to inspiring positive change in cultural policy and investment.

The Summit seeks to emphasise the importance of artistic exchange in a world that is increasingly complex and multi-lateral.

Our agenda is deliberately non-partisan and pragmatic. We aim to present multiple points of view rather than singular attitudes, ensuring that no country, continent or cultural perspective comes to dominate proceedings.

Culture and the arts have an inestimable impact on the vibrancy of the world we create and on the strength of the relations we create with each other.