AEA attends 7th World Summit on Arts and Culture organized by IFACCA

October 24, 2016

AEA recently attended the 7th World Summit on Arts and Culture organized by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA). The event brought together 350 government and cultural leaders from over 80 countries to explore the meaning and role of cultural leadership in the 21st century. The summit took place in Valletta, Malta – a timely location as the island-state gears up to assume EU presidency from January to June 2017 and its capital, Valletta, will become European Capital of Culture in 2018.

While the scope of subtopics covered during the conference pertaining to cultural leadership was vast – both substantively and geographically – a number of universal themes resonated loud and clear:

  • On a global level, arts and culture leadership is facing adaptive challenges (i.e. non-technical problems). Climate change, refugee crisis, surge in radical ideologies, austerity measures and impact of digital technologies – all of these issues require proactive responses from artists, cultural organizations and policymakers alike. Ignoring or minimizing external realities threatens the relevance of the arts and culture to other sectors and to society as a whole.

  • Arts and culture leaders of the future – either people in authority or civil society – must be sufficiently bold to call for a different conversation and challenge current ways of being, attitudes and even loyalties. In times of uncertainty, leaders have to accept responsibility to create conditions for others to enable the achievement of a common purpose – often by framing the right questions to which answers are developed collectively over time (rather than by providing quick answers that do not fully address the systemic issues at hand).

  • Effective arts and culture leadership in the 21st century cannot be done alone. Collaboration is key both within the sector and with key stakeholders outside of it. While this is often easier said than done – either due to fierce competition for funding, lack of communication or prejudice – a self-centered approach is no longer viable if the sector’s voice is to be heard and taken into account in a wider forum.   

To find out more about the summit, keynote speakers and discussions click here.


Reporting from Valletta, AEA Research Analyst Antoni Durski (

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