Global Vision
Local Action

Cross-sectorial Cooperation for Peace and Prosperity. Through Creativity and Culture.

Harnessing culture for change

UNITA for Future harnesses the power of creativity and culture to drive positive change. UNITA’s mission is to foster cross-sector collaboration that brings peace and prosperity to communities worldwide. Join UNITA as it bridges global vision with local action.

Nthabiseng Malaka
UNITA Emerging Artist
"As an artist, I believe in the power of co-creation and international collaboration to foster cultural richness and dialogue among people. All while keeping in mind the pursuit of excellence in our work."

A worldwide network​​

Through the digital platform Scenography Today, dedicated to the scenic visual arts and technologies, we connect with and engage a community of thousands of creatives from across disciplines and world regions.

The digital platform serves as a repository of knowledge and channel of communication for our programs as well as source of collective intelligence. 

90 k+

Across social channels.

UNITA – United Talents for the Future is a global non-profit initiative dedicated to promoting peace and prosperity through cultural and creative activities.

With a comprehensive strategy for local engagement and serving as an overarching organization, UNITA fosters, facilitates, and supports collaborations and projects aimed at:

Encouraging and empowering creative careers as essential catalysts for socio-economic innovation and the cultivation of thriving societies that ensure individuals lead fulfilling lives.

Advocating for the arts as a universal language and fundamental platform for dialogue among nations, igniting social change and fostering empowerment.

Nurturing diversity of cultural expressions and embracing the multitude of underlying cultural heritages to enrich today’s cultural landscape and ensure a future shared heritage that is diverse and inclusive.

Bridging the endeavors of creative practitioners with research in cultural and creative economics, intellectual property, heritage preservation, humanities for development, and international relations.

UNITA was established and is currently led by cultural manager Giuliano Picchi.


Giuliano Picchi

Creative Economy and Cultural Diplomacy Specialist
Founder / Programs director

Giuliano Picchi is a cultural manager and creative economy specialist. He is a fellow researcher at Harvard University and a cultural entrepreneur in residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is the founder and president of UNITA – United Talents for the Future, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Scenography Today dedicated to scenic visual arts. Furthermore, he serves as an expert for EIT Culture & Creativity and the European Commission. He was a researcher for the Business School for the Creative Industries, University for the Creative Arts, and was previously head of international communication for the Albertina Academy. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an active member of the International Council of Museums – ICOM, International Committee for Museum Management, and of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council. Picchi holds a Master’s degree in Economics and management of arts and cultural activities from Ca’ Foscari, Venice, along with executive education in Cultural Diplomacy from ISPIInstitute for International Political Studies, Milan, and in Intellectual Property, Copyright and Related Rights from the World Intellectual Property Organization, Geneva. Picchi received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture with a focus on city planning, museography, and scenography from Sapienza University in Rome, where he also completed his education in acting for theatre. Earlier in his career, he was managing director of private companies, offering creative, architectural, and internationalization services. Picchi has worked on hundreds of international communication projects for major corporations and has been involved in design and production for reputed cultural institutions, including the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia, MACRO Museum, and Teatro Eliseo. He is skilled in eight languages.

Angela Gleason

Communications Design Strategist

Angela Gleason is a Creative Director and a Communications Design Strategist with international experience leading design and communications projects for the United Nations (WFP – World Food Programme, UNHCR – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the World Economic Forum, The Walt Disney Company, TIME, Salesforce, non-profits, and startup communities. She holds a Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA) from Bocconi University (Milan), an education in Journalism and Public Policy from New York University (New York), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from the Academy of Arts University (San Francisco). Her Arts and Design professional background comes with extensive international experience and cross-sector collaboration. She spent ten years in theatre and performing arts in New York and California, and in 2018, she self-published the not-for-profit arts and cultural project The Verbose.

Stefano Stella

Life Scientist
Executive board member

Stefano Stella (Ph.D.) is a biotechnology scientist developing new medicines for rare genetic conditions who believes that the arts and creativity are fundamental forces in society to ignite technological advancement. He is vice president of Gene Editing at Ensoma (Boston, USA). He was priorly co-founder, chief technology officer, and director at Twelve Bio (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research. He previously held research positions at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (Madrid, Spain) and The Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (Strasbourg, France) after completing his postdoctoral training at the University of California (Los Angeles, USA). Stefano holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics and a Master’s in Biology and Biochemistry. In 2022, he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Francesca Pastorello

Former intern

Francesca Pastorello graduated in Art Market and Valorization Strategies at IULM University in Milan (2022) with a thesis in collaboration with Harvard University on the project “Renaissance Now: Cases for culture” consisting in the development of two cultural case studies modeled on those of Harvard Business School. She holds a BSc in Communication Sciences from Alma Mater Studiorum in Bologna (2020). In 2022 and 2023, she worked at the culture and tourism territorial marketing office of the Milan Chamber of Commerce, where she dealt with calls for tenders, marketing strategy, and promotion of activities in the area.

Priya Ghai

Business Development Consultant
Organization development

Creative Advisors and Ambassadors

Serge von Arx

Architect and scenographer
UNITA Ambassador and Advisor

Architect and professor of Scenography, Serge von Arx is the artistic director of the scenography department of the Norwegian Theatre Academy (at Østfold University College). In 1997 von Arx completed his degree in architecture at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). In 1998, he began his long-term collaboration with Robert Wilson on over 50 stage, exhibition and design projects all over the world, and he is a regular mentor and architectural consultant at “The Watermill Center” on Long Island, New York. In 2001, he opened his design studio in Berlin and since 2006 he is a resident in Oslo. Serge von Arx lectures, publishes, runs workshops and works internationally as a scenographer, designer and architect, in practice and research focusing on the amalgamation of theatre and architecture. In 2019, von Arx was a guest professor at Zurich University of the Arts in the Master Program for Curatorial Studies. He curated the architecture section for the Prague Quadrennial 2015 and he was part of the curatorial board for the PQ 2019. He is a member of various boards, notably for the Norwegian Artistic Research Program, and the Scandinavian Artistic Research Journal VIS.

Gary McCann

Set and costume designer
UNITA Ambassador

Gary McCann is one of the most in-demand opera designers of his generation: his set and costume designs have been experienced by audiences at the four corners of the globe – from Australia to Russia, Scandinavia to South Africa. He has collaborated with some of the world’s leading theatre and opera companies, including the National Theatre of the UK, the Wiener Staatsoper, the National Opera of Norway, the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, the Fenice, Venice, and his work has also been seen in both the West End and on Broadway. He is based in Brighton, UK, and Schöneberg, Berlin.

Paolo Fantin

Set designer
UNITA Ambassador and Advisor

Paolo Fantin has worked closely with director Damiano Michieletto since 2004. He was born in Italy in 1981 and studied set design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. In 2011 he received the prestigious Premio Abbiati for his designs for Sigismondo at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro as well as for Don Giovanni at La Fenice in Venice and for Madama Butterfly at the Teatro Regio in Turin. In 2005, Micheletto and Fantin were finalists in the Ring Award, the International Competition for Stage Direction and Stage Design in Graz, with their project for Le nozze di Figaro. Since then, more than 60 productions for major opera houses worldwide can be counted in his portfolio. More detailed info about Paolo Fantin can be found here.

Sabine Theunissen

Architect and scenographer
UNITA Ambassador and Advisor

After studying architecture in Brussels, Sabine Theunissen spent a year working with the technical team at La Scala, Milan, before joining the design department at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where she worked for 17 years. She has collaborated with William Kentridge since 2003 and designed many of the sets for his productions starting with Magic Flute. Since then, she designed sets for Kentridge’s opera productions, art installations, and exhibitions. She is simultaneously working with other directors, choreographers, and filmmakers among which Hélène Theunissen, Aurore Fattier, Michèle Noiret, Lillo Baur, Mary Jimenez and Bénédicte Liénard. In 2016, she created the Squatelier, her studio where she develops her projects and research as a team. Workshop life occupies an important place in her practice and offers interns a framework conducive to learning and emulation.


Christian Schmidt

UNITA Ambassador and Advisor

Christian Schmidt has worked regularly with director Claus Guth since 1992; their collaborations include Der fliegende Holländer (Bayreuth Festival, 2003), Der Ring des Nibelungen (Hamburg State Opera, 2007–9), Mozart’s Da Ponte operas (Salzburg Festival, 2006–9) and Fidelio (Salzburg Festival, 2015). He has also worked with directors Shirin Neshat (Aida, Salzburg Festival), Christof Loy (including La forza del destino for Dutch National Opera and Tosca for Finnish National Opera), Hans Neuenfels (including Der König Kandaules for Vienna Volksoper and Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Stuttgart Opera) and Andreas Homoki. Schmidt was named Set Designer of the Year (2003) and Costume Designer of the Year (2005 and 2012) by Opernwelt. He won the Rolf Mares Prize of the City of Hamburgfor his designs for Simon Boccanegra (2006) and was nominated as Designer of the Year at the 2017 International Opera Awards. Christian Schmidt was born in Coburg in 1966 and studied set and costume designs at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna.

Advisory board

Edna Dos Santos-Duisenberg

International Strategist and Policy Advisor - Former Chief, Creative Economy Programme at UNCTAD
UNITA Advisor for the Global Creative Economy

Edna dos Santos-Duisenberg is economist, researcher, and international policy adviser to governments and institutions on creative economy and development issues. She had an international career of nearly 30 years at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2004, she set-up and became Chief of the Creative Economy Programme at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development where she served in high-level posts including Chief Cabinet of the Secretary-General. She has shaped the international policy and research agenda around the creative economy, promoted intergovernmental debates, technical cooperation, sensitising governments on the potential of the creative economy as a development strategy. She directed and was main co-author of UN Creative Economy Reports 2008 and 2010. She launched UNCTAD’s Global Database on Creative Economy disseminating world trade statistics for creative goods and services. Since 2005 she disseminated the UNCTAD’s E-news on Creative Economy sharing knowledge and information. She designed the Global Academic Exchanges Network on Creative Economy, forging partnerships and synergy among institutions, practitioners, artists, academia and civil society.

She is vice-President at the International Federation of Multimedia Associations (FIAM), Advisor and Associate Fellow at United Nations Institute for Research and Training (UNITAR).  Member of the International Council of NESTA’s Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) based in London, UK. Member of the international jury that elected the World Design Capital in 2014, and served at the Advisory Panel of the Hong-Kong Design Center. She collaborates with universities in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Member Advisory Council and Visiting Professor for the Master in Creative Economy at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain. She is an independent thinker and speaker (four languages), writer of academic articles on creative economy, international trade and sustainable development.

Doris Sommer

Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures - Harvard University
UNITA Advisor for Humanities for development

Doris Sommer, Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, is Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies.  Her academic and outreach work promotes development through arts and humanities, specifically through “Pre-Texts” in Boston Public Schools, throughout Latin America and beyond. Pre-Texts is an arts-based training program for teachers of literacy, critical thinking, and citizenship. Among her books are Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (1991) about novels that helped to consolidate new republics; Proceed with Caution when Engaged by Minority Literature (1999) on a rhetoric of particularism; Bilingual Aesthetics: A New Sentimental Education (2004); and The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities (2014).  Sommer has enjoyed and is dedicated to developing good public school education. She has a B.A. from New Jersey’s Douglass College for Women, and Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

François Colbert

Professor of art marketing - HEC Montréal
UNITA Advisor for Arts Management

François Colbert is among top scholars in arts marketing in the world, having published close to 200 works and being one of the most cited authors in his discipline. He is professor of marketing and holder of the Carmelle and Rémi Marcoux Chair in Arts Management at HEC Montréal. He founded the Master in the Management of Cultural Organizations (in French) at HEC Montréal in 1988. He currently is the coordinator of the joint Master of Management in International Arts Management (HEC, SMU, Bocconi), and is the Head of the field Marketing and Management of Arts and Cultural Industries at the PhD program, he is Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Arts Management, published by the Chair in Arts Management. He also is member of the Editorial Board of City, Culture and Society (an Elsevier publication). He has been UNESCO Chair in Cultural Management from 2012 to 2018. He was awarded the Order of Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He was made Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2005 and also received the ACE Award 2006 from the Association of Cultural Executives as well as the World Outstanding Scholar Award of Creative Management in 2021 (Sichan University). He also is Honorary Professor at Peking University, the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts as well as at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music in China.

Federico Cinquepalmi

Professor of project management, Former Head of the Office for the Internationalization of Higher education - Italian Ministry for University and Research (MUR)
UNITA advisor for Environmental sustainability and Internationalization

Prof. Federico Cinquepalmi (PhD) graduated in Architecture from the IUAV University of Venice (1994) and holds a PhD in Engineering from the Sapienza University of Rome – (March 2008). Since March 2022, he is full professor of project management (ICAR/11) at the Faculty of Architecture of la Sapienza University in Rome. From April 2009 to March 2022, he was a full-time researcher/technologist of the Italian National Agency for Environmental protection and Research in Rome (Italy) and posted at the Ministry for University and Research (MUR) as director of international offices.
In the last 20 years of research activities, he focused his scientific attention on the sector of sustainable development and policies for energy and the environment, with special regard to Technological support and management in urban areas. He is author and co-author of about 50 scientific works published in national and international journals and books, but also author of 15 institutional documents. He is also a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Marine and Island Cultures by Elsevier and of the International Advisory Board of the International Journal of Applied Science and Technology; in 2011, he was elected as a member of the scientific committee of the Italian Society for the Advancement of Sciences (SIPS), founded in 1839. In 2013 he was received as an active member for the class 6 (Technical and Environmental Sciences) of the European Academy for Science and Arts. Since June 2020, he holds the national qualification as full professor. He has been awarded 6 prizes and honors, both nationally and internationally in his scientific research sector, among them a grant for young European researchers from the European Science Foundation (ESF) in 1997, a fellowship from the Italian National Research Council (CNR) in 2000 and a personal grant given from the American Embassy in Rome for research activities to be implemented in the US in 1998.
From 1999 to 2009, he was a member of the scientific/technical board for Nature Protection of the Italian Ministry of Environment, working closely as an advisor of the Minister’s Cabinets, and in that period, he was part of the Italian G8 Environment working group. He was also scientific liaison officer of the Italian Government for the most relevant international organizations for the environmental protection and sustainable development, such as: the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO/UN); the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA); the International Maritime Organization (IMO); the World Bank environment; the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE); the International Union for Conservation of the Nature (IUCN); the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD/UN) and the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention/UN).
He is author and co-author of about 70 publications in his research fields, and since June 2020, he holds the national qualification as full professor. He speaks and writes fluently in Italian, his mother tongue, in English and French. He also speaks and understands Spanish.

Cristina Da Milano

Audience Development Specialist
UNITA Advisor

Cristina Da Milano holds a degree in Archaeology (University of Rome); the MA in Museum Studies (University of Leicester); the MA in Technological Systems for the Economic Evaluation of Cultural Heritage (University of Ferrara).

President of ECCOM, an organisation founded in 1995 which carries out research projects on the issue of the social role of culture, training activities and consultancy at a national and international level, she has been involved in several EU funded projects and studies with specific reference to cultural access, participation and audience development. She is an expert in European cultural policy and programmes.

She lectures in many post-graduate courses and Masters and is member of the board and vice-president of Culture Action Europe; member of the board of directors of Teatro di Roma; member of the Commission for the National Museum System of the Italian Ministry for Culture.

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