Culture, soft power and international leadership

London, United Kingdom

Mon Jul 13 2015

Event type

  • Public
  • Event
  • Conference

The relationship between culture, soft power and international leadership will be explored in this panel discussion which will feature key players from across the cultural and creative industries. This event is part of Churchill 2015 – 21st Century Statesmanship Global Leaders Programme, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death with a wide-ranging programme of events and seminars, around the theme of 21st-century global leadership.

The discussion will explore the skills, attributes and experiences that global leaders need in the 21st century and the way in which an understanding of the power of the Arts and culture can support leaders can change the world for the better. It will also link back to Churchill’s own appreciation of the arts, his appeal to common culture and values in wartime, and use of language as soft power to build international coalitions. This event questions the place of culture in worldwide development, and its role in leaders’ response to today’s global challenges from climate change to migration to combatting violent extremism.

You are invited to attend this special event and informal drinks reception. Tickets are free, available on a first come first served basis. To reserve your place(s) please email or call 020 7382 7211.

Organised by Barbican Centre, British Council, Creative Industry Federation and the City of London Corporation. Part of the Churchill 2015 – 21st Century Statemanship Global Leaders Programme.

Intro (3 mins): Nigel Hall – overview of Churchill 2015 programme

Chair: Nick Kenyon


  • David Cannadine - leading off by making the links back to Churchill and his use of language and rhetoric as soft power (15 mins)
  • Graham Sheffield - broadening the agenda onto the world stage and raising the role of the arts and cultural diplomacy in the new statesmanship (15 mins)
  • Vikki Heywood - drawing on her work with the Warwick Commission, the RSA and 14/18NOW to consider the meaning of cultural value, and whether we can help solve society’s problems by the use of cultural diplomacy and soft power (10- mins)
  • Bidisha - giving an international perspective informed by her work as a human rights journalist as well as an arts critic, looking at the ways in which artistic value and sociological value can be used together - with certain caveats... (10 mins)
  • Claire Fox – offering a more sceptical look at soft power (5-10 mins) leading to:
  • Audience questions
  • John Kampfner – summing up on how we need to persuade government to integrate soft power thinking
  • Roger Gifford – summing up on the point of view of the City and business leaders integrating this thinking into international business
  • Drinks (until c.7.30/8pm)

Venue details:

Auditorium 1, Level 4
Barbican Centre
Silk St
United Kingdom

Opening hours:

5.00 - 7.30pm


phone: 020 7382 7211