Soft Power Destinations 2017 Awards
The Leading Culture Destinations Awards – or “The Oscars for museums” – have been decided, and three incredible organizations have won this year’s Soft Power Destinations of the Year awards.
This year marks the second year of the Soft Power Destinations category. These awards recognize the cultural organizations, activations or districts that have powerful influence and impact based on their excellence, relevance, transparency, accountability and sustainability.
Nine nominees were shortlisted in the categories of Best Soft Power Organisation, Best Soft Power Cultural Activation and Best Soft Power Cultural District. Here are the winners:
Soft Power Cultural Organisation Award:
Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto, Canada
The Toronto International Film Festival has won The Best Soft Power Cultural Organisation of the Year for 2017. TIFF is a remarkable event, engaging more than 500,000 people, and has had a tremendous impact on the City of Toronto and the Canadian Film Industry for more than 40 years. TIFF also has a remarkable global impact, featuring films from 83 countries and has made a five-year commitment to increasing participation, skills, and opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera, prioritizing gender parity with a focus on mentorship, skills development, media literacy and activity for young people. TIFF has also worked to bring forward the festival's impact year-round through the TIFF Bell Lightbox, “TIFF has grown from its place as the most influential fall film festival to the most influential film festival, period” (TIME Magazine), and influence is what soft power is all about.
Soft Power Activation Award:
The Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, USA
The Davis Museum at Wellesley College in Massachusetts won The Best Soft Power Cultural Activation because of a programme that it produced called ART-LESS. ART-LESS was a timely, relevant and poignant artistic response to the Trump administration’s proposed travel ban and threats to cultural diversity and international collaboration. To demonstrate immigrants' extraordinary gifts to culture in the United States, the Museum removed or covered all artworks on display by an immigrant and replaced them with the labels “Made by an Immigrants or “Given by an Immigrant” in a program entitled ART-LESS: the Davis without Immigrants. The project led the way for museums across the United States to respond in kind, with many other museums activating their spaces and soft power in similar ways, for instance The Davis provided label files for other museums to download for free to mount a similar intervention. The Museum used its space and its collection to create a model of inclusion and resistance for replication across the country and around the world.
Soft Power District Award:
Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, Los Angeles, USA
The Watts Towers Arts Center Campus won The Best Soft Power Cultural District of the Year because it is a unique combination of sculpture and architecture, arts center and festival site. Since its inception in 1961, the WTAC has been not only a city facility but has been guided by its community partnerships—Watts Towers Community Action Committee, the Watts Century Latino Organization, and many more. Located in Los Angeles, California, the campus is a gathering place for more than 700 visual artists, photographers, filmmakers, writers, mentors and teachers, and more than 1000 composer bandleaders and musicians, to form and build partnerships. Watts Towers Arts Center truly is a place of convening and has become a bastion of rebirth and community unity.