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Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2021

"The Cultural Economy and the Economy of Culture." This was the title of this year's virtual Culture Summit Abu Dhabi. Over three days in March, solutions were sought for the many problems affecting the global cultural industry. After all, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the international cultural and creative industries were one of the fastest growing economic sectors worldwide. Here’s a summary of this year's edition.

Three days and a programme with over 100 global experts from the fields of culture, creative industries, media, politics and technology. For four years now, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has organised Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, an international congress that took place online for the second time this year.

The summit explored the themes of community and responsibility, diversity and pluralism in culture, digitisation of cultural content and its equal access. Participants from different countries, including cultural policy makers, artists, designers, architects and activists, virtually discussed the post-crisis recovery and transformation of the covid sector and envisioned a new system that is more resilient and adaptable to ongoing and future crises.

It also highlighted the International Year of Creative Industries for Sustainable Development 2021 to show how the creative industries can advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in education, business, innovation and infrastructure, reducing inequality, and sustainable cities and communities.

"It is critical, that the discussions held over the past three days continue, not just for next year, but for the next 20, 30 years and beyond.” HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said that this year’s Culture Summit brought together leaders from around the world to discuss key issues facing the cultural and creative industries and to find new ways of working together. It’s clear that the overall framework for international cooperation needs to be improved in order to strengthen the connectivity of the cultural ecosystem and maintain support for the people operating within it, said Al Mubarak.

“We must ensure investment for the industry, making that a top priority on every policy and decision makers’ agenda, by showing how these sectors can contribute to sustainable economic and social growth.”, Al Mubarak mentioned during the summit’s closing panel.

"It is also a necessity for peace, because culture brings people together closer, by building bridges and by creating meaning." Audrey Azoulay, Director General, UNESCO

During the Summit, DCT Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with UNESCO, announced a joint study that will examine the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cultural and creative industries worldwide.

“The cultural recovery is an anthropological necessity, but it is also an economic necessity, for the creative economy generates trillions of dollars every year, and its impact and influence is often underestimated”, said Audrey Azoulay, Director General, UNESCO. She also believes that the creative industries are above all a necessity for peace, because culture brings people closer together by building bridges and creating meaning.

All sessions from Culture Summit are available online via the website and YouTube channel.