Report No. 8 to the Storting (2007-2008)

A Cultural Rucksack for the Future

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“We really enjoyed the cultural activities we took part in at school, and later we were able to use what we learned there.”

“I wish it could always last for ever.”

Truls and Emilie from Sandefjord, after 10 years of participation in the Cultural Rucksack.

Norway – general facts

Population: 4.6 million

Area: 385 155 sq km

GDP (2007): NOK 2 277 000 (EUR 257 500)

GDP per capita (2007): NOK 483 700 (EUR 54 800)


Norway is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democratic system of governance. The democratic governance and the monarchy were both established in the Constitution of 1814, and parliamentarianism was introduced in 1884. Today, the King has little real political power, but fills an important symbolic function as the Head of State and official representative of Norwegian society.

State power is formally distributed between three institutions: 1) The Storting (the legislative power), which is a modified unicameral parliament consisting of 165 seats. The Storting is elected by county on the basis of proportional representation, i.e. each county is awarded a specified number of representatives based on its population. The representatives are elected to serve four-year terms. 2) The Government (the executive power), which consists of the prime minister and the Council of State comprising app. 17-20 ministers. Each ministry functions as the minister’s main instrument for translating policy into action. 3) The courts (the judicial power).

Political parties:

The political system in Norway is based on representative democracy and a multi-dimensional party system. The most important dimension is the left-right dimension, where the parties are distributed along an axis according to their concern with equitable distribution and public planning and control. To the left are the Socialist Left Party and the Labour Party. Furthest to the right are the Party of Progress and the Conservative Party. The Centre Party, the Christian People Party and the Liberal Party are found in the middle of the left-right axis.

The present coalition government (2005- ) consists of the Labour Party, the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party.

Local government:

Norway is divided into 19 counties and 430 municipalities. The powers of the county and municipal councils for self-government have been delegated from the State, and are set out in legislation, not in the Constitution. The State is directly represented at a local level through the County Governors’ offices. The 18 county administrations (Oslo is not defined as a traditional county) were established in 1975 to provide an administrative level between the State and the municipalities.

The municipalities are the most important units of local government administration. They are responsible for primary and lower secondary education, social services, municipal roads, water and sewerage and zoning regulation. Upper secondary schools and a number of technical services are administered at the county level. Each of these levels of administration receives part of their revenues through local taxation, fees and local business management, and partly from allocations from the central authorities and other public institutions.


Preface to the English translation

The Cultural Rucksack programme is part of the Government’s cultural policy. It is a national effort in which the cultural and education sectors cooperate on providing school pupils throughout the country with the opportunity to become acquainted with, understand and enjoy all forms of artistic and cultural expression at the professional level.

The state took over the administration of the Cultural Rucksack in 2001, and today every pupil at primary and lower secondary school in the country is able to participate in the programme. During their school career the pupils become acquainted with different forms of artistic and cultural expression in the fields of music, theatre, film, the visual arts, literature and the cultural heritage. As from 2008 the programme is being extended to include all pupils at upper secondary school. This means that around 800 000 school pupils, aged from 6 to 19, will take part in the Cultural Rucksack activities.

The Cultural Rucksack is mainly financed by the funds allocated to culture from the surplus earned by Norsk Tipping, the state-owned gaming company. NOK 167 million of these funds is allocated annually to the programme.

The present White Paper sets out the principles for the further development of the Cultural Rucksack.

The following are the main points:

  1. The White Paper sets out the objectives of the Cultural Rucksack and the principles on which it is based. The Cultural Rucksack is a programme for ensuring that school pupils have the opportunity to participate in artistic and cultural activities provided by professionals in the cultural sector. The objectives and principles of the programme have to take account of the national curriculum established under the Knowledge Promotion Reform, but the activities are not intended to be a substitute for the aesthetic subjects taught by the school. The programme is intended to be an out-of-the-ordinary, but at the same time self-evident, supplement to school activities. A further principle is that there should be local and regional room for action, which will ensure local enthusiasm, activity and involvement.

  2. The White Paper emphasises that there should be a clear division of work between the cultural and school sectors. The cultural sector is responsible for the artistic and other cultural activities, while the school is responsible for integrating the activities with the school day and the school curriculum, and for ensuring that preparation and follow-up are carried out in connection with the various activities under the programme.

  3. The Cultural Rucksack is mainly financed from Norsk Tipping funds. The counties and municipalities receive a share of the Cultural Rucksack allocation and are responsible for ensuring that these funds are used in accordance with the principles of the programme. The funds are to be used in their entirety to finance cultural activities for the pupils, and may not be used for administrative purposes or competence-building for teachers or artists.

  4. The Cultural Rucksack will be extended to upper secondary school over a period of several years. In 2007 a pilot project was undertaken in seven counties. Over the next few years the programme will gradually be extended to all counties, with the goal of ensuring that all 180 000 upper secondary school pupils participate in the Cultural Rucksack during school hours. Together with the 620 000 pupils at primary and lower secondary school, this brings the total number of pupils participating up to around 800 000.

  5. A national institution will be appointed for each field of artistic and cultural expression. The institution will be assigned a clearer role and will be responsible for coordination, network-building and quality enhancement of the cultural activities offered under the programme. In the further development of the programme steps will be taken to promote the establishment of formal networks for the various bodies involved.

  6. In the further development of the Cultural Rucksack priority will be given to competence-development among artists and schoolteachers. The requirement that Norsk Tipping funds are not to be used for this purpose will continue to apply.

  7. The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Research will draw up a strategy for ensuring that research and evaluation have a permanent place in the work with the programme.

  8. Reporting will be made obligatory and reporting procedures will be improved so as to enable the two ministries to gain a satisfactory overview of how the funds for the Cultural Rucksack are being used in the counties and municipalities. The aim is to publish statistics on the programme.

  9. The Golden Rucksack prize will be awarded annually to the best school and the best production in the Cultural Rucksack.

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