Culture Summit Abu Dhabi has released the full programme for its virtual fourth edition, which will be held under the theme The Cultural Economy and the Economy of Culture. Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the Summit will take place from 8 – 10 March 2021. Attendance is free and open to the public, with registration now available on the Culture Summit website.

Culture Summit 2021 will convene global experts from fields such as design, heritage, media, public policy, and technology, for a series of keynote speeches, panel discussions, case studies, artist talks, performances, and film screenings. The programme will explore the challenges and opportunities of developing adaptable, resilient, and collaborative creative ecosystems, and the socioeconomic benefits that vibrant cultural and creative industries around the world deliver, with a focus on knowledge exchange and policy development.

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “Culture Summit is ambitious in its goal to produce innovative, globally-impactful propositions by connecting cultural leaders with key voices from diverse yet related fields, and we will amplify that impact even further this year, through our first virtual and public edition. We create future-facing solutions that aim to change and improve the fields of culture, which are vital contributors to the recovery, growth, and development of any economy.”

“Abu Dhabi recognised the significant role that the culture sector and the creative industries play in economic development early on and have always considered them a key aspect in achieving the emirate’s objectives. In a time when the viability of these industries and their practitioners have been particularly affected by current global events, Culture Summit’s discussions will be vital ones, that must result in concrete outcomes. To this end, we are incredibly proud to see Abu Dhabi serve as a platform that brings together this calibre of participants, alongside our esteemed partners,” Al Mubarak added.

Discussions will also explore the post-COVID sector recovery and transformation, envisioning a new system that is more resilient and adaptable to any future disruptions, and the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021, with the aim to showcase how the creative economy can advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals in education, economy, innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequality, and sustainable cities and communities.

The Summit’s programme was developed in collaboration with cultural partners, including UNESCO, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, The Economist Events, Google, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Design Museum London. Other participants in this edition include Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Berklee Abu Dhabi, Institut Français, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, twofour54 and Abu Dhabi Film Commission.

Commenting on their participation in Culture Summit 2021, the Summit partners said: “The International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development aims to amplify culture’s contribution to the global economy, at a time when the world is looking to recover from COVID-19 and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. An essential step in this process is measuring the pandemic’s impact on the cultural and creative industries. That is what UNESCO, working with Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, aims to do – and why the Summit will be one of the International Year’s flagship events.” – Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“The annual Culture Summit assembles an esteemed group of thought leaders across disciplines. The Guggenheim is honoured to contribute; we look forward to shaping and participating in vital discourse at this year’s gathering, as we collectively reassess the role of culture, cultural platforms, and museums and how they can best serve and reflect a global society.” – Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.

“The Economist Events is delighted to be programming panel sessions at the first virtual Culture Summit Abu Dhabi. We are looking forward to a series of engaging discussions that will provide both clarity and insight.” – Fiametta Rocco, culture correspondent, The Economist and 1843 magazine.

“We’re delighted to be participating in this year’s Culture Summit Abu Dhabi and to share our experience working with cultural institutions from across the Middle East, including the UAE, to help preserve this region’s rich cultural heritage and art through technology.” – Lino Cattaruzzi, Managing Director of Google Middle East and North Africa.

“UNCTAD’s panel at Culture Summit 2021 will aim to highlight the importance of creative economy as part of the solution for the global recovery in a new dimension. Impact investing can and will play a critical role in this journey.” – Marisa Henderson, Head of Creative Economy at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

“The Design Museum is delighted to be a partner in this year’s Culture Summit Abu Dhabi. Having the opportunity to stage a series of creative conversations across design, architecture and art is both exciting and important and in spite of the restrictions placed on all participants and delegates this year, we are much looking forward to an exchange of ideas around the critical topic of the cultural economy.” – Tim Marlow, Chief Executive and Director, Design Museum London.

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, will welcome all attendees to Culture Summit 2021 on Monday 8 March. The Summit programme will see keynote speeches from HE Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO; Achille Mbembe, philosopher, political scientist, and public intellectual; Sir David Chipperfield, architect, and Sir Antony Gormley, OBE, British sculptor in conversation with Tim Marlow, OBE, Director of the Design Museum London; Roger Brown, President of the Berklee College of Music; András Szántó, sociologist; and Charlie Puth, American singer, songwriter, and record producer.

The programme will also see participation by HE Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation; Becky Anderson, Host of Connect the World with Becky Anderson, and Managing Editor of CNN Abu Dhabi; Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum; Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, Assistant Director General for Culture at UNESCO; Hadley Gamble, CNBC News Anchor and International Correspondent; Laurent Gaveau, Head of the Lab – Google Cultural Institute; Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director of Culture and Emergencies at UNESCO; Es Devlin, OBE, artist and designer; Marisa Henderson, Chief of Creative Economy Programme at UNCTAD; Alexandra Munroe, Senior Curator and Director, Curatorial Affairs at Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Fiammetta Rocco, Culture Correspondent, The Economist and 1843 magazine; Daan Roosegaarde, founder, Studio Roosegaarde; Earthling Ed, vegan activist and educator; and Sameh Wahba, Global Director for the World Bank’s Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice.

Highlights from the Summit’s panel discussions include How to channel funding towards culture in post-crisis situations? and Why do we focus on artists and the digital technology for the development of a creative economy. Also being covered are Reckoning with Globalism: What are the new realities and possibilities shaping global art museums and biennials today?; What is the post-covid cultural economy?; and Can the cultural economy advance sustainable goals? Impact Investment and Creative Industries.

The programme includes case study presentations developed by the Summit partners, including Google Arts & Culture’s Crafted in India; The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture’s (AFAC) Creating a ‘Sustainable’ Ecosystem by Rima Mismar, Executive Director of AFAC. Other programme highlights include a film screening by contemporary artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, as well as performances from Cultural Foundation, Bait Al Oud Abu Dhabi and Berklee Abu Dhabi, including Naseer Shamma, Omar El Amin, Anqelique Kidjo, Oum, and Ghalia Benali,  as well as  Artist Talks with Nick Cave and Farah Al Qasimi.


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