Our role is to continue re-enchanting the world

IFACCA - International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies,
15 June 2023, International

Photo: Susanne Kronholm

Dear colleagues and friends,

As I prepare to step down as the Chair, having had the honour and pleasure of serving for the past four years, I would like to share a few thoughts about IFACCA’s key role in advancing the sustainable development of arts and culture.

The world is an immense, complex, unequal, divided, distressed and beleaguered place, primarily due to the climate crisis and far too many armed conflicts. Yet, the world is also home to irresistible forces that are changing it for the better. These forces are to be found, first and foremost, in communities and individuals of every origin, background, circumstance and ambition who are daily striving for inclusion, justice, dignity, decolonization, emancipation, peace and beauty, and who aspire to live in harmony with nature and their fellow humans. Life-affirming forces will always be more powerful than interests that seek to degrade, impoverish, control or erase life. Artistic creation is just as inextinguishable as life itself, and humanity’s cultural heritage, whether tangible or intangible, is ample proof of this.

Most of my term as Chair unfolded during the global COVID-19 pandemic that drastically disrupted the lives of hundreds of millions of people and bereaved far too many families and communities. However, IFACCA’s response to this tragic moment on behalf of its members was a magnificent expression of solidarity and reinvention—for the federation and for each and every one of us. After being compelled to stop travelling and to communicate virtually instead, we succeeded in reducing the world to a more accessible scale for us all. We heard more from people whose means and freedom to travel for face-to-face meetings before the pandemic were limited—much as they remain today. We held more meetings, exchanged more ideas and experiences, and shared more resources and knowledge among our members on every continent. And with the pandemic starkly exposing systemic issues and the vulnerabilities of policies and cultural systems in every country, IFACCA was able to address the major issues affecting the vast majority of its members in spite of their disparate contexts. In fact, because of the pandemic, ties were strengthened, discussions expanded, and response times shortened. IFACCA made a significant contribution to overcoming the isolation experienced by the heads of arts and culture funding organizations and to bolstering the arguments that each of us needed in our respective countries to convince governments to do more and do better.

The pandemic transformed the IFACCA network into a true community of thought and action, which is exactly what I observed and deeply experienced at the World Summit on Arts and Culture in Stockholm in May. The hundreds of delegates from the four corners of the planet were much more at ease with each other than before and interacted at strategic, intellectual and emotional levels that I had not witnessed at previous summits. Not only in workshops and at talks but also in corridors, during breaks and in elevators, there was a spirit of congeniality and a genuine sense of belonging that is very promising for IFACCA’s immediate future and its growing impact.

Although our common cause and daily workloads are demanding, our strenuous efforts are highly commendable as we strive to continue captivating a world that needs delight and wonderment now more than ever. 

My final words of appreciation are for my wonderful colleagues who have served as Board members over the last four years, for Magdalena Moreno Mujica, who directs the IFACCA Secretariat’s brilliant team in such a caring and intelligent way, and for our dear Kristin Danielsen to whom I confidently and proudly hand over the reins.     

*Available in English, French and Spanish 


Images, from top (L-R)

  • Day Three of the 9th World Summit on Arts and Culture. Photo: Susanne Kronholm
  • Mexico City, Mexico, 2022 
  • IFACCA Board Meeting, Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City, 2022
  • Stockholm, Sweden, 2019