International cultural engagement

The primary objective of the Government's efforts to promote Norwegian culture internationally is to help Norwegian artists to gain access to key arenas abroad and thus reach a wider audience.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs works actively and strategically to gain access for Norwegian artists to important cultural events and institutions internationally. The missions abroad can build bridges between cultural communities in Norway and other countries, and promote Norwegian artists in their host countries.

Cultural institutions

The Foreign Service cooperates closely with Music Norway, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), Norwegian Crafts, Norwegian Literature Abroad (Norla), Performing Arts Hub Norway, the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (DOGA) and the Norwegian Film Institute. These institutions also advise the Government on cultural matters.

Torill Kove won an Academy Award in 2007 for her animated short film The Danish Poet. She has been nominated twice more in the same category, in 2000 for My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts and in 2015 for Me and my Moulton. The illustration is from My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts. Credit: Norwegian Film Institute

Modern diplomacy

Promoting Norwegian culture helps to advance Norwegian interests abroad, and is a key component of modern public diplomacy.

Bringing Norwegian arts and culture to an international audience also increases interest in and awareness of Norway as a knowledge-based society with a vibrant cultural sector. Cultural activities offer opportunities for creating meeting places, building networks and strengthening dialogue with important target groups. Our efforts to promote Norwegian culture internationally are part of our long-term strategic efforts to build a good reputation for Norway, with particular emphasis on quality and innovation.


Cultural exchanges, new impulses and the opportunity to take part in the global dialogue on developments in the various arts also help to ensure an active and dynamic cultural scene in Norway. Through various support schemes and different forms of project cooperation, the Government helps Norwegian artists to take part in the international arena and to bring new impulses back home to Norway.

Travel grants

The performance "Blue Motel" by Lisa Lie Credit: Vigdis Haugstrøp

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel grants scheme is an important tool for helping Norwegian artists to participate on the international scene. Grants are awarded to a large number of artists to help them promote their work abroad, set up launch events, take part in exhibitions, fairs and festivals, and attend seminars and workshops. The management of the grants scheme has been delegated to the cultural institutions the Ministry cooperates with. The scheme is helping to stimulate interest in Norwegian artists and to increase exports of Norwegian culture.

Programmes for the press and high-level visits

Programmes for the press and high-level visits involving the missions abroad, Norwegian cultural institutions and independent bodies and individuals help to increase the visibility of Norwegian culture in international media. The Ministry develops targeted programmes for visits to Norway in cooperation with the arts and culture sector and key institutions, festivals, museums and galleries. International surveys show that interest in Norway as a cultural destination is growing.

Cultural industries

From one of the Norwegian exhibits in Salone Satellite at the 2015 international furniture and design fair in Milan. Credit: Kathrine Rath, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Government attaches particular importance to helping Norwegian cultural industries to gain access to the international market. In recent years, there has been substantial growth in exports of Norwegian culture to other Nordic countries, to a number of European countries, to North America and Asia, and to some of the rapidly growing economies.

The Arctic

The cultural dimension is an integrated part of Norway's efforts in the Arctic, where Norway is a key regional actor. Norwegian–Russian cooperation in this region is at the heart of this work. Closer cross-border ties between the people of the Barents region are primarily due to cultural exchanges and people-to-people cooperation.

Countries outside the Barents region are also becoming interested in the cultural scene in the north. The Government will continue to foster interest in, and knowledge about, indigenous peoples in its work to promote cooperation and exchanges with those taking part in or interested in developments in the Arctic.