In the spirit of the ancient Greek agora and Enlightenment salon culture, the Public Sphere strengthens community by revitalizing the art of conversation, fostering the exchange of ideas and meaningful social interaction in physical space. Founded on values of equality and fraternity, we organize salon events across the world that actively engage citizens in critical issues shaping society, culture, art and politics.
The Public Sphere’s mission is to contribute to the betterment of humanity by creating stimulating intellectual environments and poetic experiences that re-enchant the world and advance principles of participatory democracy through sustained discourse and new encounters in the collective pursuit of knowledge and fellowship.
A salon is a social gathering in which individuals come together to engage in the art of conversation and exchange ideas in pursuit of knowledge and fellowship. In a salon, a salonnière, an expert moderator, facilitates a shared discussion on a selected idea or issue in any field from the arts, sciences and culture to philosophy and politics.
Salon culture began in 16th century Italy and blossomed in 17th and 18th century Enlightenment Europe. Salons were traditionally founded on principles of egalitarianism and freedom of expression. They played a critical role in the development of a democratic, debate driven Public Sphere in Europe and were the catalyst of important intellectual, political, and artistic movements.
We organize many activities around the world, from regular city salons, to country festivals, salonnière training days and outreach initiatives. Our events are free, and open to the public and all are welcome to join our community. We encourage a diversity of backgrounds, interests, and ideas to be expressed.
The Public Sphere hosts salons around the world on various topics in areas such as philosophy, literature, politics, art, and culture. We bring people together to discuss ideas with the objective of creating community and advancing intellectual movements or projects relevant to the 21st century. Our salons normally begin with a presentation by a distinguished speaker with specialized knowledge on the topic. Thereafter, salon participants converse on the topic with loose moderation by the salonnière and a “conversation menu” to stimulate discussion. The event usually concludes with chamber music, related to the topic, played by some of the finest professional musicians from around the world. Our salons takes place primarily in private homes, in keeping with the salons of the Enlightenment, but also in varied settings from parks and cafés, to castles, museums, and art studios.
We host salon festivals in beautiful locations around the world. They serve as retreats that stimulate the intellect, catalyze new friendships and reconnect participants to nature. We combine thoughtful travel and adventure with intellectual salons, classical concerts, dancing, nature walks, and art events.
We are committed to helping preserve beautiful architecture and spaces of historical significance. Our festival locations are carefully chosen for their aesthetic sublimity and intellectual history. Past festivals have taken place in spaces where Nietzsche, Rilke, and Mann, among others, worked and found inspiration.
We empower people to foster community in their neighborhood and city and make culture and ideas accessible to the public by offering free salonnière training events. We help salonnières create and sustain their salon, offering resources, guidance, and support throughout the process.
We are committed to making our salons accessible to a greater public and fostering a welcoming and inclusive space for discourse that furthers the foundational principle of egalitarianism that the salonnières of the 17th and 18th century aspired to achieve. We work to reach a diverse audience so that all know that our cultural resources and community are available to them free of cost.
The Beautiful Soul, our online forum, publishes reflections on the topics and ideas debated in the salons of The Public Sphere by our speakers and participants. Inspired by the periodicals of The Republic of Letters in the age of Enlightenment, it promotes a shared commitment to intellectual enlightenment, moral cultivation, aesthetic sensibility and human community.We invite readers to contribute responses to the written work in the comments section to foster continued dialogue and sustained engagement with ideas amongst a critical public.
In keeping with the history of salons, The Public Sphere runs a Salon Artists & Musicians in Residence Programme in which we invite artists and musicians to present their work in the salon and on our forum The Beautiful Soul. Visual artists display their paintings and sculptures in the space of the salon, poets and writers read their work, and musicians play chamber music to begin and conclude the conversation. Their contributions provide a shared experience and lexicon that facilitates communication and inclusionary social interactions, advancing the egalitarian principle at the heart of our salons. They create a beautiful atmosphere that adds to the joy and poetry of the experience.
The Public Sphere provides supportive communities for our artists and musicians to share their work and receive constructive feedback. We actively promote their artistic creations across our global network of salons and support their creative endeavors. The art and recordings of our residents is available in our Cabinet of Wonders.