Article | Last updated: 29/04/2015
The aims of Norway’s cultural cooperation are to reinforce bilateral ties with important partner countries, facilitate the internationalisation of Norwegian art and culture, and raise awareness about – and generate interest in – Norway as a knowledge-based society with a vibrant cultural sector. Cultural cooperation helps to strengthen Norway’s positive image abroad.
Cultural cooperation helps to build lasting relations between groups of artists and institutions in Norway and other countries, and extends beyond the traditional, official channels. Cultural cooperation is part of Norway’s long-term foreign policy work, and it is therefore based on the same geographical priorities. It is an integral part of the work of the diplomatic and consular missions, and an essential tool at the larger missions abroad. Emphasis is placed on quality, innovation and taking a long-term approach, and the work is carried out in close dialogue with cultural organisations in Norway and with the authorities in the region concerned. Through various support schemes and project cooperation, the Ministry helps to ensure that Norwegian artists can engage in international activities and bring new ideas back to Norway.
The significance of culture
According to the Human Development Report 2004, culture is, in the context of development policy, ‘increasingly being viewed as a commonplace, malleable fact of life, that matters as much as economics or politics to the process of development’. Cultural freedom is not only a human right, but also a vital prerequisite for development and stability.
Cultural cooperation financed under the Norwegian aid budget aims to promote human rights in general and freedom of expression in particular, through cultural exchange programmes, support for the development of the institutions needed to promote a free and varied cultural sector, and support for the protection of cultural heritage.
Norway attaches great importance to ensuring that cultural cooperation is of a high professional standard, and art and cultural institutions are key partners in this field. Academics, journalists and writers will increasingly be included in Norway’s cultural cooperation, as participants in debates and seminars, and as key groups to consult when developing the institutions and organisations that are needed to ensure a well-functioning civil society and a critical public.
Cultural cooperation with countries in the South: Strategy 2006-2015
The Strategy for Norway’s culture and sports cooperation with countries in the South for the period 2006–2015 covers cooperation relating to artistic expression, the exchange of ideas, the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, media development and sports. Cooperation in the areas of art and culture is mainly funded by the budget allocation to culture (budget item 160.73), while support for free media and sports cooperation is funded by various other budget items.
The strategy reflects international thinking, for example in the UN system, which highlights the crucial role played by culture in promoting development and poverty reduction. The strategy aims to promote a more coherent and long-term approach, with a view to making best possible use of culture and sport to advance development processes in the years to come. It has been well received by the relevant expert communities, and has received widespread and positive media coverage.
The main proposals of the strategy
The main proposals of the strategy include:
- The introduction of broader cultural cooperation programmes in selected partner countries that are interested in programmes of this kind (this applies to support for cultural infrastructure in the South). Exploration of the practical and financial consequences of introducing a sectoral approach (during the course of 2006), and the launch of pilot projects in two or three partner countries.
- The strengthening of cultural exchange activities (South–North and South–South), and the further development of cooperation with actors in the domain of art and culture. Continuation of Norway’s cultural cooperation with UNESCO.
- The organisation of all forms of cultural cooperation (bilateral and multilateral) with countries in the South into one or more of the following thematic areas: artistic cooperation, protection and promotion of cultural heritage, freedom of expression and intellectual property rights, culture and peacemaking activities, inter-cultural dialogue, culture and private sector development, and media development.
- The integration of the sports dimension into selected priority sectors such as education, health, HIV/AIDS, civil society and peace-building/conflict prevention, based on the concept of ‘sport for all’.