Edinburgh hosts cultural summit

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Media captionThe inaugural Edinburgh International Culture Summit attracted representatives from around the world

Culture ministers and leading commentators from 30 countries have gathered in Edinburgh for a major cultural summit.

They have taken their seats in the Scottish Parliament for two days of debate and discussion.

The summit is taking place with Edinburgh's famous festival season in full swing.

Scotland's culture secretary Fiona Hyslop and UK minister Ed Vaizey welcomed the ministers to the city.

The opening ceremony featured Scotland's Makar Liz Lochhead reading from Robert Burns's "A Man's A Man For A' That".

There was also a performance by the National Youth Choir of Scotland.

The inaugural Edinburgh International Culture Summit is a collaboration between the Scottish government, the UK government, the Edinburgh International Festival and the British Council.

Image caption A performance by the National Youth Choir of Scotland opened the summit

Some of the world's major economic powerhouses - including Brazil, Japan, Russia and the USA - are represented by delegates at the two-day summit.

They are joined by delegates from developing nations, including Malawi, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Zambia.

Germany, Nigeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Singapore and Jordan are asl represented.

Among the speakers on the first day are EU culture commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, discussing the role of the arts in fostering international dialogue between cultures and nations.

The theme is being developed further by Amir Nizar Zuabi, one of the leading theatre directors in the Middle East, and Haris Pasovic, artistic leader of the East West Centre in Sarajevo, who continued to produce plays during the bloody and long-running siege of the city in the 1990s.

On Tuesday, one of the themes will be sustaining private and public support for culture.

Harold Mitchell, media mogul and philanthropist, will discuss his involvement in music education in schools in East Timor, since the island state's independence in 2002.

Ian Livingstone, co-founder of wargames company Games Workshop, will take part in a debate on the central role of technological skills in the creative industries alongside other major figures such as Richard Harper, principal researcher at Microsoft Research.

Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "The calibre and status of these internationally-renowned speakers augurs well for the quality of the rich debate I hope they will stimulate in the Scottish Parliament building during the summit.

"In the Year of Creative Scotland, the summit is a unique opportunity for culture ministers and other experts from around the world to gather and discuss the power, profile and positive impact of the arts, culture and creative industries.

"The summit will also promote Scotland as a trusted nation to collaborate with culturally, encouraging tourism and developing our creative sector."

Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, said: "In bringing together such a distinguished and varied line up of leading thinkers and operators across the areas of culture, technology, politics and industry we are reaffirming the key role that culture plays in the success of nations today."

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