"At the crossroads? Cultural Leadership in the 21st Century" is the title of IFACCA’s (International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies) 7th World Summit which brought together government and cultural leaders from over 80 countries and took place in Valletta, Malta on 18 - 21 October 2016. IFACCA is the global network of arts councils and ministries of culture, with member organizations in over 70 countries, whose vision is a world in which arts and culture thrive and are recognized by governments and peoples for their contribution to society.
The arts and culture face a number of challenges and opportunities in the 21st century as new technologies affect the production and distribution of goods and services. New patterns of migration emerge and national contexts constantly shift with austerity measures and requests for reform. At the same time, artists and culture operators aspire to extend their impact to other sectors, while striving to ensure freedom of expression and cultural diversity. New models of cultural leadership are more important than ever as we work to affirm the arts and culture as pillars of social development. At a time when the notion of participatory governance is prevalent, no decision can be made without the involvement of multiple stakeholders, and the tradition of top-down leadership is no longer the only model. Artists, networks, advocacy groups, and professional organisations play an increasingly important role in engaging people, debating the issues, and proposing solutions to the challenges of our times. The Summit explored changing perceptions of leadership and addressed a number of questions: What are the issues? How are decisions being made, and by whom? How is leadership defined in different cultures? How can governments and civil society collaborate? And where do we go from here?
The summit saw participation by several Arab speakers: Abdullah Alkafri from Ettijahat, Marina Barham of Al-Harah Theater of Palestine, Rana Yazaji of Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy.
In the first panel, titled "What are the issues that have brought us to the crossroads?” moderated by Sarah Gardner, Executive Director IFACCA from Australia, with speakers Jane Chu, Chairperson National Endowment for the Arts, USA, Annick Schramme, President of ENCATC, Belgium, Carlos Javier Villaseñor Anaya, Cultural policy expert, Mexico/Panama, Oussama Rifahi, director of AFAC, talked about the dire conditions seen in the Arab region, and how Arts and Culture can turn the latest crisis of migration into an opportunity: how the artistic community can modernize its message and through the universal language of culture, how radicalization, intolerance and fear can be addressed in a profound and concerted effort to rally global citizens to responsible and constructive action.