The establishment of the Arts Council was probably the single most important initiative in Norwegian cultural policy in the last century. Its foundation transformed cultural life, and helped to increase cultural production and consumption radically. This year, the Arts Council Norway is celebrating 55 years.
Arts Council Norway, founded in 1965, is the primary governmental organization responsible for the implementation of Norwegian cultural policy. Arts Council Norway functions as an advisory body to the central government and public sector on cultural affairs, and is fully funded by the Ministry of Culture.
Related: Art and Culture in Norway
The Arts Council Norway Celebrating 55 Years
In 2019, Arts Council Norway provided NOK 949,5 million (USD 94 million) in funding to the Norwegian cultural sector to support a variety of projects and activities in performing and visual arts, music, literature, archives and museums, also introducing a new budget mechanism whereby allocations to the Sami Parliament in the fiscal budget were grouped as a single budget item under the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization. The Arts Council (Kulturrådet) currently has 136 employees.
Research and development
In order to meet future challenges, and to provide a solid platform for decision-making, the Arts Council develops, funds and commissions research programs, projects and publications. The R&D work strives to be investigative, non-dogmatic and seeks to involve a variety of academic traditions and perspectives. The R&D department publishes a series of evaluation reports and a book series with a wider thematic and theoretical scope.
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The role of art in society
Art plays a key role in a modern society. Art supports a wide range of experiences. It can be a purely aesthetic experience, and it can foster reflection and set the public agenda. Art participates in the important discussions regarding ethical values in a complex present. By creating shared experiences, art strengthens communities in an increasingly fragmented public sphere. Such communities are a prerequisite for maintaining and developing all liberal democracies. Art plays a part in the story of who we are, and discusses who we should be. Artists play an important role in the public discourse. This is why it is important that the cultural sector is independent so as to prevent public authorities from intervening in artistic choices.
Art and education
Norwegian cultural policy is characterized by an ideology of democratization, which has prompted an alliance between the culture and education sectors, aiming to render arts and culture available to every child. The concept of Bildung is prominent in that respect, harboring a potential in explaining the discourse behind much educational and cultural policy.
Perspectives on aesthetic quality in the cultural field
A research program aims at raising awareness of, and reflecting on, the basis for the evaluation of aesthetic quality in the cultural field, including literature, music, the visual and performing arts, and the museums. The program was started in 2014, and will involve researchers from various academic institutions.
Art and cultural arenas
In recent years, there has been significant investment in new arenas for art and culture in Norway. At the same time, improvements in the physical infrastructure for arts and culture have been paralleled by new ways art is created and communicated. There has been important cultural-political debate over whether these two processes are related to each other. These issues were addressed in a research project conducted by Uni Research Rokkan Centre.
The Norwegian music and literature industry
The purpose of this project was to estimate the economic value of the Norwegian literature and music industries. The data collected for this project intends to shed light on how the music and literature industry is developing, and to illustrate how different segments have varied over time. The project is carried out by Rambøll Management Consulting
Church music in Norway
Church music has long traditions in Norway, and has become an important part of the church’s religious mission. At the same time, church music has unique aesthetic qualities independent of the religious context. The aim of this project is to provide knowledge on recent developments within this musical branch, through exploring both organizational and aesthetic conditions for professional church music in Norway. The Telemark Research Institute was conducting the research in cooperation with the Norwegian Academy of Music and KIFO.
Culture in Norway in corona crisis times
“The corona crisis goes very far beyond the cultural sector and we need to analyze the situation and identify necessary measures,” says Kristin Danielsen. Menon Economics will assist Arts Council Norway with the analysis project, which started two weeks ago and lasts until the summer holidays.
Feature image (on top): Art and conflict/University of Agder.
The Arts Council Norway Celebrating 55 Years, compiled and edited by Tor Kjolberg