Communities around the world are facing radical social, environmental, political, and economic disruption, confronting complex challenges that range from the COVID-19 pandemic to structural inequity and racism, outdated systems of education and work, and climate change. The cultural sector is essential to regenerate and energize societies but artists and creative innovators have never been in a more precarious situation.

Shaping a creative, just and sustainable world calls for action at all levels and collaboration across many sectors. We need bold ideas and innovation to build a more vibrant and resilient arts sector that can advance inclusive economic development, positive social change, and urban transformation for livable cities. The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI Forum) aims to do this by connecting, empowering and supporting rising talents in the creative sector across every continent.


Launched in 2014, the YCI Forum is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities in more than 20 cities and regions around the world. The YCI Forum network is multi-disciplinary and encompasses creative disciplines ranging from the visual and performing arts, literature, and cultural heritage, to foods, fashion, architecture, and design.


The annual program is the first step towards a long-term engagement and participation of YCIs in a dynamic global network, with YCIs continuing to work together at the local level in their YCI Hub, while also remaining in touch with wider global YCI network. The Forum links individuals and communities with one another through an annual program, follow-up events, inter-hub exchanges, cross-border projects, and other activities.


In addition to joining the YCI Forum network, participants also become members of the Salzburg Global Seminar Fellowship network, which since our inception in 1947, includes more than 37,000 participants from over 170 countries. YCIs have opportunities to build cross-sectoral connections with thought leaders from other areas of Salzburg Global programming such as education and work, finance and governance, justice and security, planet and health, media and voice.


Program Format

In 2020, the annual meeting of the YCI Forum will take place virtually from 12 to 23 October, and will bring together 60 young cultural innovators (YCIs) from around the world. It will combine a focus on “big picture” issues facing the cultural sector with capacity-building sessions for personal and professional development, helping participants to forge the dynamic vision, entrepreneurial skills, and global networks needed to advance their organizations, their causes and their communities.


Over the course of 10 days, the program will be convened online and will include a series of presentations, discussions, small group sharing sessions, workshops, and creative interventions. The program will offer opportunities for members of the 2020 cohort to lead sessions, to co-create their own experience and showcase their work. Participants will be supported through peer coaching and mentoring from experienced facilitators.


Following the 2020 annual Forum, participants will have the opportunity to co-create a series of thematic webinars on big picture issues within the cultural sector. Regular check-ins with the 2020 cohort and with YCI Hubs will keep connections alive and enable opportunities for collaboration beyond the annual Forum.


Participant Profile

Each annual YCI cohort comprises a group of expert facilitators and 60 young cultural innovators between the ages of 25 and 35 from around the world. Salzburg Global strives to have a group each year that is balanced in terms of gender, discipline, and geographic representation. Participants are chosen through a competitive application and nomination process, to ensure quality and diversity of professional knowledge and experience within the Forum.

Most participants come from YCI Hub communities that Salzburg Global Seminar has been developing with partners in cities and regions around the world. The hubs which will participate in the 2020 YCI Forum are:

  • Baltimore, USA;
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina;
  • Canada;
  • Cape Town, South Africa;
  • Detroit, USA;
  • Manila, Philippines;
  • Malta;
  • Memphis, USA;
  • Nairobi, Kenya;
  • New Orleans, USA;
  • Salzburg, Austria;
  • South Korea;
  • Upper Midwest, USA.

Criteria for Applicants to the YCI Forum

Candidates are appointed through a competitive application process to bring a diversity of professional knowledge, perspective, and experience to the Forum, and are selected based on their achievements, leadership potential, interest in cross-sectoral collaboration, and commitment to making a difference in their communities. 

To be eligible for the Forum, all applicants must:

  • Be 25–35 years of age.
  • Be proficient in English, the working language of the Forum.
  • Be living and working in Malta.
  • Have at least 2–3 years of professional experience in the arts and culture sector.
  • Want to become an active member of the YCI global network, and be prepared to commit time, energy, and resources to sustain this.
  • Aim to create social change and strengthen the position of the arts and cultural institutions within your community.
  • Demonstrate creativity in approach to work, openness to innovation and risk-taking, action-orientation, and entrepreneurial inclination.
  • Have a cross-sectoral approach to work and/or demonstrate an interest in building cross-sectoral alliances/partnerships beyond the cultural sector.
  • Exhibit passion, enthusiasm, and leadership potential with prizes, awards, recommendations, citations confirming this.

Application Requirements

All applicants must submit the following information online using the registration form at

  • A brief bio (sample on the application form);
  • A photo of yourself (showing your face);
  • A CV/Resume including name and email address of 2 references;
  • A personal statement (approx. 500 words) detailing:
    • Your motivation for applying to the Young Cultural Innovators Forum; 
    • A description of how you aim to create social change and strengthen the position of the arts through your work;
    • How your participation will have an impact on your local community;
    • What you will contribute to the local and global YCI network.

Please include only the information outlined above when applying. Incomplete applications will not be considered. For questions concerning the application please contact Bernadette Prasser, Admissions and Program Officer (

Deadline for applications: September 7, 2020