Art, Education, Social Impact

BFI Executive Director Elizabeth Thompson Attends Salzburg Global Forum

BFI’s Executive Director Elizabeth Thompson was honored to join 60 global change-makers at the Salzburg Global Seminar in late February as part of Session 561: “Beyond Green: The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability”.

The goal of this Salzburg Global Seminar session was to build on path-breaking cultural initiatives, to advance international and cross-sectoral links between existing arts and sustainability activities around the world, to encourage bolder awareness-raising efforts, and to recommend strategic approaches for making innovative grassroots to scale for greater, longer-term impact.

The creative sector has played a significant role in efforts to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change and encourage sustainable social, economic, and environmental practices worldwide. Many artists and cultural organizations have embarked on remarkable projects that make us reflect on our behaviors, our carbon footprints, and the claims of infinite growth based on finite resources. Sometimes treading a fine line between arts and advocacy, they have sparked extraordinary collaborations that reveal new ways of living together on a shared planet.

The ‘art of the possible’ will become even more relevant as 2016 dawns – bringing the challenge of how to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and the Climate Change Agreement adopted at the end of 2015. Yet with negotiations overshadowed by scientific controversy, political polemic and geographic polarization, individuals can easily lose faith in their own ability to shape change beyond the hyperlocal level. Against this challenging backdrop, could the arts and creative practice become a particle accelerator – to shift mindsets, embrace new ways of sharing space and resources, and catalyze more creative leadership in the public and private spheres?

Thompson moderated Panel 5: “Designs on the Future”, which included the following panelists:

– Singh Intrachooto, Head, Creative Center for Eco-design, Architecture Kasetsart
University, Bangkok, Thailand
– Christine Gitau, Convenor and Curator, Craft Afrika, Nairobi, Kenya
– Omar Nagati, Co-founder, CLUSTER, Cairo, Egypt
– Francis Sollano, Executive Director, Youth for a Livable Cebu, Cebu, Phillipines

Thompson introduced the panel’s theme with a quote from Buckminster Fuller: “The design challenge is to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

To view photos of the session, visit the Salzburg Global Seminar’s Flickr.