Media contact

Fran Strachan
CRC for Low Carbon Livng
0429 416 070

Curator and PhD candidate, Zoe Butt, has taken her passion for arts and culture to the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader’s summit.

Butt joined a group of nearly 200 rising stars in Geneva last week including an astronaut, the youngest member of India’s cabinet, breakthrough medical researchers and Chinese tennis champion Li Na.

Set up as an independent, not-for-profit founda­tion by the Swiss government, the Forum of Young Global Leaders brings together bold, brave, action-oriented and entrepreneurial individuals committed to making the world a better place.

It is an integral part of the World Economic Forum, an international institution for public-private cooperation aimed at shaping global, regional, national and industry agendas.

“It was an amazing experience meeting a network of highly motivated, innovative, inspirational, intelligent people who are passionate about their work and believe their lives have a role to play in changing the world,” said Butt, who is completing her PhD with UNSW Art & Design.

Butt used the Forum to advocate for arts and culture to have more in-depth relevance to issues ranging from economic growth and social inclusion to employment, skills and human capital.

“I hope to learn how to think two steps ahead for sustainability, innovation and creative leadership, and to make arts and culture a stronger voice in the global challenges confronted at the Forum.”

Based in Ho Chi Minh City, Butt is the director of San Art, a non-profit contemporary art organisation that was founded in response to what she describes as “the great lack of access and opportunity concerning contemporary art and culture in Vietnam”.

Her PhD explores the role of artists and curators in China and Vietnam, where she said knowledge of contemporary art is largely dictated by commercial interests and politically monitored production.

“San Art’s key mission is the exchange and excavation of cultural knowledge within an interdisciplinary community in Southeast Asia,” she said.

Butt, whose last decade of work “has been highly affected by post-Communist ideologies”, chose UNSW’s Contemporary Culture, Art & Politics research group to do her doctorate.

“UNSW is one of the most progressive academic institutions in Australia supporting cross-disciplinary research,” she said.