Published on Thursday 7 July 2022

As I sit here in the Max Reinhardt Bibliothek, I feel like we’ve been transported into some kind of fairy-tale castle.

The Schloss, as it is informally called (plus that’s the word for castle in German), has been the house for the Salzburg Global Seminar for the past seventy-five years, an anniversary which is also being celebrated through this year’s seminar programme, and an event for which, luckily, I am present for. After around five hours of travelling, we arrived in Salzburg (luckily with no delays, unlike some of the fellows here), I dropped my luggage off in my room, and immediately went exploring to find the venerated gate used as a backdrop in The Sound of Music, of which I happen to be a big fan and was exposed to at a very early age. So to me this does seem all a bit like a dream that I as a child would have had—and yet here I am, living it.

The same goes for the feel of the seminar. On our first day upon arrival, we did a round of introductions, and the number of interesting people from all corners of the world which I had the honour and privilege to chat with was immeasurable. People with different backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge are coming together to discuss the redefinition of cultural diplomacy, and I just had to stop for a minute to take a deep breath and take it all in. I am currently surrounded by people who are being themselves, sharing their thoughts, engaging in discussions to further strengthen the arts and culture sector on a global level; scholars and academics from different backgrounds; artists who express themselves through different mediums; experts in political science; you name it, they’re here. 

Just this morning, conversations were held on whether arts’ affecting power can drive movement, actions, and change; everyone had the opportunity to listen and contribute on the matter on 5 different facets presented by the panellists’ field of expertise. We then had a workshop on hip-hop and cultural diplomacy—presented by Next Level’s director Junious Brickhouse—which looked into this initiative’s work in promoting international cultural exchange in underserved communities, conflict transformation, and entrepreneurial skill building through hip-hop and dance cultures.

We do have quite a jampacked, super-interesting programme which makes you want to yearn to learn more from your peers and to continue working towards better redefining cultural diplomacy. That being said, time does seem to fly, as the programme is extremely engaging and has a hands-on approach. I am looking forward to the rest of the sessions we have here; however, it’s a pity we don’t have the time to re-enact a scene from The Sound of Music.

The Salzburg Global Seminar - Currents of Change: Redefining Cultural Diplomacy for the Future we need, 4-8 July 2022. Salzburg Global forum is supported by Arts Council Malta.