• Maria Galea

Young Cultural Innovators Forum

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

This is my very first blog , it has taken me a while to let myself go and make time to share my experiences with you all. The experience I am about to share has definitely triggered the need to do so. I have just returned back home from the Salzburg Global Forum For Young Cultural Innovators, a five day stay in the incredible Schloss Leopoldskron palace, a magical place to say the least. However what has really made this experience special where the other 49 young cultural innovators selected form all over the world. Their stories , their passion, their energy and how we all became so connected by the end of our journey, has really given me a new perspective on how to perceive both myself and the world around me.

We came in different forms; poets ,visual artists, dancers, singers, photographers, musicians, film makers, drivers behind institutions, entrepreneurs, activists, gallerists, curators, and the list goes on. However, really and truly we are just humans using a different language leading to the same goal; that of creating positive change in our communities through arts and culture.

Justin Galea, Romina Delia and Myself where this years Maltese participants at the forum. We met at the train station in Vienna and started to make our way to Salzburg . We had only met briefly before , our 3 hour train journey to Salzburg was a great time for us to get to know each other even better before embarking on this amazing experience together. We didn’t really know what to expect upon arrival. I mainly wanted to meet new people around the world whom shared a common language of love for the arts and a passion towards innovation that leads towards positive change.

During the first two days I was still connecting the dots to why was I really here, and what the main goal about this forum really was. We where told that in the next few days we will be diving into a series of ‘Workshops’ and ‘Sharing sessions’ touching diverse topics which we come across in our work as well as focusing on our selves as individuals and our core purpose. Big words, but no big word can really describe what we felt.

Every morning we would wake up to a postcard like view of mountains, birds flying over a mirror like lake, trees and fresh air. We would first all meet in a big room where we performed Japanese exercises called 'Rajio Taisou', this left a big energetic smile on our faces before starting our long day of discussions.

The workshops where a useful combination of tools, some answered questions, others tackled challenges. We engaged in diverse topics from Partnerships, Fundraising, Leadership, Sustainability, to active discussions around Global issues and narratives. However one of the most powerful workshops was about

‘ The power of listening'; a series of exercises focused around the importance of listening to one another , as well as to listen to our own self in moments of silence. Something which we usually take for granted in our day to day lives.

The so called ‘Sharing sessions’ where the moment I realised why I was really here and why I needed to be here. We where divided into a group of people from all sorts of backgrounds. We met in the same room every day and we all knew that what is shared in this room stays only within us. The first day our facilitator

asked us to try and describe our balance between our Career, Family, Friends and Values or belief. We where basically asked to face reality of our present life. On the second day we where asked to think deeply about our purpose, what drives us? Which took us back to the past and what really sparked us to lead us through this path. On our third day, we have been asked to select three words that describe our future. We faced the changes we want to make in our lives, what our deeper goal is and now we had a clear why we want to do it. We laughed, we cried, we stayed silent, we thanked each other for sharing , gave long hugs of comfort and at the end we would stay in a circle , hold hands and just shout as loud as we could. Little did I know that this group of strangers in a room in this amazing palace would change my perspective of life.

We sometime underestimate the value of listening to others, sharing, taking a moment to just stay still , appreciate people around us and why we are actually doing what we are doing. We sometimes get so lost in the middle of all of it that we loose the connection to our existential purpose. Listening to others, sharing common values, passions and struggles, created a deep bond between us. No matter where we are and no matter what we are doing we will now always know that we are never alone and that we can always count on each other .

As 'young cultural innovators' we find ourselves immersed in passion to continuously finding new ways on how to break the walls of cultural resistance to change, engage our communities and inspire others to take charge. Saying that what we do is challenging and tiring is perhaps an understatement, but really and truly we wouldn’t want it any another way, because we know that every tiny step we make on the way leads to a greater purpose which will live beyond us.

This is just a very small insight to what we have lived together in these five days. However one thing I will always hold on very tight to is understanding how we can find happiness in each other no matter what background we share.

The Salzburg Global Seminar will always be that happy place in my heart which I will never let go of.

Special Thanks goes to all Organisers, Facilitators and Staff at the Salzburg Global Seminar who have made us feel just like home. I would also like to thank Arts Council Malta for making this experience possible.

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