Symphony Tacoma’s conductor is headed across the globe to engage with some of the greatest minds on the planet from the arts, media government and other sectors.

Music Director Sarah Ioannides was invited to attend the inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Summit in Abu Dhabi, taking place from Sunday, April 9th to Thursday, April 13th, 2017. CultureSummit 2017 is the world’s first event that convenes leaders from the worlds of the arts, media, public policy and technology to address the role that culture can play in solving some of the greatest challenges of our time. CultureSummit will also explore how new technologies are changing the very nature of culture and cultural interactions worldwide with major consequences for education, economies, politics, and virtually every other dimension of our lives. The event will take place at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi and at other locations in United Arab Emirates.

The invitation-only summit will bring together delegations, live and virtual, representing 64 countries from nearly every region in the world. This will include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who will be the recipient of a Cultural Diplomat Award; residencies by composer Tan Dun and choreographer Liz Lerman; and presentations by artists such as cellist and multimedia artist Maya Beiser, and composer Sandeep Das of Silk Road Ensemble. Sarah Ioannides is the only invited music director of a professional American orchestra and the sole representative from a Washington state arts agency. Other representatives of U.S. cultural institutions will include Deborah Rutter, President of the Kennedy Center; Tom DeCaigny, Director of Cultural Affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission; and Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts.

The event will be hosted by TCA Abu Dhabi and presented in conjunction with The FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy Magazine, and TCP Ventures, LLC, a producer of artistic ventures and an advisory firm focused on issues associated with the arts and culture.

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), said: “This event underscores our commitment to culture and the arts as well as to exploring the next generation issues that are of importance to each of us in the UAE and to citizens of every country worldwide.”

The summit will address challenging issues like the preservation of cultural heritage, the disruptions associated with emerging technologies, the role of the arts in combatting extremism, and the development of public policies that promote creativity and social development. There will also be displays of the artwork of participating visual artists and performances and presentations by an extraordinary array of globally known musicians, singers, dancers, composers, and others.


Daily plenary sessions will be held on such topics as:

  • The Universals: What the Arts Can Tell Us About How We Can Come Together
  • Globalization and the Other: Lessons from Refugees and the Dislocated
  • The Why and the How of Cultural Preservation in the Coming Decades
  • Problem Solving Through the Arts: Case Studies in Social Solutions
  • The Arts and Fighting Climate Change
  • The Unintended Consequences of Technological Change
  • The Arts and Gender Equity

Following the event, on June 15, the University of Washington Tacoma and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation will co-host a follow-up symposium, during which Ioannides share her experiences from CultureSummit with community leaders representing the cultural, business, and government sectors. This will include opportunity for break out discussions that will enable participants to explore regional responses to the issues outlined at the Summit.

“Our lives are much richer for having Sarah leading Symphony Tacoma,” stated Greater Tacoma Community Foundation President & CEO Kathi Littmann. “Sarah’s vision, passion, and talents are worthy of international recognition. I know she will be a powerful ambassador for Tacoma’s arts community.”

“We are thrilled that Sarah was invited to participate,” said Clark D’Elia, President of Symphony Tacoma. “In working with her the past several seasons, we have come to recognize her thought leadership regarding the important role of music in our modern culture. Her participation in this event aligns well with the Symphony Tacoma Mission:  Building community through music.”