21st Century Leadership for the Ministry of Culture

September 21, 2022 at Financial Times, with Headspring, London (2 days workshop, invitation only)

Download a summary of Peter Fisk’s workshop 21st Century Leadership.

Culture encompasses language, traditions, art, music, religion, food, architecture, fashion language, music, attitudes. It is about the past and present, and a pathway to futures. It is different all over the world.

The word “culture” derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin word “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture. Indeed culture shares its etymology with a number of other words related to actively fostering growth.

The term “western culture” has come to define the culture of European countries as well as those that have been heavily influenced by European immigration, such as the United States). It has its roots in the classical period of the Greco-Roman era (the fourth and fifth centuries BC) and the rise of Christianity in the 14th century.

Eastern culture generally refers to the societal norms of countries in Far East Asia and India. Like the West, it was heavily influenced by religion during its early development, but it was also heavily influenced by the growth and harvesting of rice. In general, there is less of a distinction between secular society and religious philosophy than in the West.

The term  “Middle Eastern culture” is another umbrella that encompasses a huge diversity of cultural practices, religious beliefs and daily habits. The region is the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and is home to dozens of languages, from Arabic to Hebrew to Turkish to Pashto.

While there is significant religious diversity in the Middle East, the predominant religion by numbers is Islam, which has played a large role in the cultural development of the region. Islam originated in what is today Saudi Arabia in the early seventh century. An influential moment for the culture and development of the Middle East came after the death of the religion’s founder, Muhammad, in 632.

No matter what a culture looks like, one thing is for certain: cultures change. “Culture appears to have become key in our interconnected world, which is made up of so many ethnically diverse societies, but also riddled by conflicts associated with religion, ethnicity, ethical beliefs, and, essentially, the elements which make up culture,” De Rossi said. “But culture is no longer fixed, if it ever was. It is essentially fluid and constantly in motion.”

This makes it difficult to define any culture in only one way. While change is inevitable, most people see value in respecting and preserving the past.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to identify cultural and natural heritage and to conserve and protect it. Monuments, buildings and sites are covered by the group’s protection, according to the international treaty, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. This treaty was adopted by UNESCO in 1972.