About the Fund

Together for a new Nordic Region Using culture to break down barriers The Nordic Culture Fund works to support an innovative and dynamic artistic and cultural scene in the Nordic Region, one that is diverse, accessible and of high quality.

The Fund contributes to positive artistic and cultural development in the Nordic Region by promoting co-operation between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. It does so by gathering knowledge and information, building networks and providing financial support.

The Fund was established in 1966, based on an agreement between all of the Nordic countries. It currently has a budget of DKK 36 million, the majority of which is awarded in the form of grants to projects in the Nordic Region and beyond. In recent years, the Fund has also evolved into an active participant in and facilitator of networks, the aim of which is to support the development of cultural policy in the Nordic Region.

 Since its inception in 1966, the Nordic Culture Fund’s core task has been to allocate projet funding. Today, has three channels: the general project fund which has three annual deadlines, OPSTART and the priority theme funding pools. 

OPSTART: The OPSTART fund was launched in 2015. OPSTART supports the initial development and networking phase that precedes major Nordic projects. There are no application deadlines. The Fund notifies applicants of its decision within two weeks. The maximum OPSTART grant is DKK 25,000.

Priority theme pools: Every two years, the Fund awards DKK 3 million to one or more Nordic co-operation projects that address a specific and relevant theme. This is known as the Fund’s “priority theme”. The Fund reserves a proportion of its budget for pool slinked to more specific themes chosen to support its general work on the development of cultural policy. Appropriate themes are identified and pools established on a regular basis and as part of a dynamic process.

Cultural policy initiatives
In recent years, the Nordic Culture Fund has evolved into an active participant in and facilitator of new networks, the aim of which is to develop cultural policy in the Nordic Region. The Fund offers forums for promoting, developing and disseminating knowledge about culture and cultural policy through the acquisition of knowledge and working with relevant stakeholders. The Fund identifies current, relevant themes related to cultural policy, as well as relevant stakeholders who are well placed to address these issues. The Fund also participates in existing networks and develops dialogue with other stakeholders.

In 2016–18, the Nordic Culture Fund will focus on communications. Stakeholders in the Nordic countries have demonstrated a growing interest in the Fund becoming more active and visible. It is becoming increasingly important that the Fund monitors and participates in new forums, networks and initiatives. Funding external communication initiatives underpins this part of its work.

The Board 2017


Board member: Paavo Arhinmäki, Member of Parliament, Chairman of the Board

Board Substitute: Johanna Karimäki, Member of Parliament

Board member: Riitta Kaivosoja, Director General, Department for Cultural, Sport and Youth Policy, Ministry of Education and Culture

Substitute: Sini Keinonen, Ministry of Education and Culture



Board member: Valgerður Gunnarsdóttir, Member of Parliament

Substitute: Steingrímur J. Sigfússon

Board member: Aðalsteinn Asberg Sigurðsson, writer and musician

Substitute: Karitas H. Gunnarsdóttir, Head of Department, Ministry of Education Science and Culture



Board member: Jorodd Asphjell, Member of Parliament

Substitute: Helge Andre Njåstad, Member of Parliament

Board member: Kristin Danielsen, direktor, Arts council Norway

Substitute: Øystein Vidar Strand, Head of Department, Ministry of Culture



Board member: Mogens Jensen, Member of Parliament

Substitute: Jan Erik Messmann, Member of Parliament

Board member: Per Voetmann, sector manager for culture, leisure and citizen services, Lolland Municipality

Substitute: Per Nylykke, Ministry of Culture



Board member: Hans Wallmark, Member of Parliament

Substitute: Peter Johnsson, Member of Parliament

Board member: Staffan Forsell, General Director, Swedish Arts Council

Substitute: David Karlsson, historian and culture writer


The Faroe Islands:

Board member: Martin Næs, Head of Department, Mentamálaráðið

Substitute: Alda Joensen, Mentamálaráðið



Board Member: Niviaq Korneliussen, writer

Substitute: Johan Lund Olsen, political advisor



Board Member: Mikael Staffans, Member of Parliament of Åland

Substitute: Tony Wikström, Member of Parliament of Åland

The Fund’s panel of experts has 21 members. They provide quality assurance, ensure that the views of people outside ‘official’ Nordic circles are taken into account and guarantee support for the work of the Fund at national level. Experts are appointed for three years at a time and provide valuable professional input to the Culture Fund by assuring the quality of applications and establishing new contacts and networks.

The Nordic Culture Fund’s panel consists of experts in art and culture and are appointed by the Board.

Bjarke Svendsen
Lise Vandborg
Jacob Stage

Dan Henriksson
Peter Sandström
Aija Puurtinen
Kai Gunnar Lehikoinen

The Faroe Islands:
Kjartan Hansen

Christian Fleicher Rex

Samúel Jón Samuelsson
Markús Þór Andrésson

Unnur Sande
Hilde Methi
Malika Makouf Rasmussen
Hild Borchgrevink

Ellen Nyman
Christina Zetterlund
Katherine Hauptman
Viktor Zeidner
Henrik Orrje

Lina Antman

The Nordic Culture Fund's Project Ambassadors

The Nordic Culture Fund's Project Ambassadors are helping to mobilize new actors, shorten the way for applicants to the Fund and raise awareness of the Fund. The ambassadors can reach the potential applicants through their own network and give advice on how to implement Nordic culture projects based on their own experiences. The Project Ambassadors come from different Nordic countries and they work daily within various sectors of the cultural world.


Jonatan Habib Engqvist 


Jonatan Habib Engqvist is a theorist, curator, teacher and freelancer. He has produced international programs and exhibitions i.a. in Norway, Sweden and Iceland. He has also written for and edited various journals and books.

Arne Hovda


Arne Hovda is a songwriter, producer and keyboard player who has worked with many interanational artists. Since 2007  he has hosted Songwriters Circle Stavanger (SCS), which gathers together famous songwriters from different countries to Stavanger to work with local composers.

Helle Thede Johansen


Helle Thede Johansen is a writer and freelance journalist. She is a trained telegraph operator, banker and has a degree in marketing. Her first book was published in 2010.

Ása Richardsdóttir


Ása Richardsdóttir has worked in culture, politics and media for three decades, producing, leading and creating various events and projects. She i.e. founded one of Reykjavik’s independent theatres in 1994 and was the executive director of Iceland Dance Company for eight years.

Mikaela Westerlund


Mikaela Westerlund is the executive director of film agency Walhalla in Finland. She is also the film secretary at the Finland-Swedish Film Centre which strives for an active and vibrant Swedish film culture in Finland. She has studied Nordic literature, media culture and video production and works also with scriptwriting and film directing.

Lisbeth Poulsen


Lisbeth Karline Poulsen is an active artist who works within a wide range of artistic fields from stamps to scenography, costume design and exhibitions. She strives to leave her personal touch to everything she does. She has recently been appointed as the chairman of the Greenlandic Artist Association KIMIK. Lisbeth has studied at the Art School in Nuuk and The Art Academy in Aarhus.

Astri Fremmerlid


Astri Fremmerlid has a versatile career in the museum sector. She worked as the project manager in establishing the Perspective museum in Tromssa, and has worked as the museum’s director since 1995. Astrid has also worked as an associate professor at the University Museum in Tromssa and as the director of The Regional Museum in Trondarne. She is educated as Cand.Phil in ethonology, sociology and geography from the University of Bergen.

Sofia Enros


Sofia Enros from Åland is a swing dancer with a great passion for jazz. She has worked as the manager for several dance festivals and together with her partner Daniel Johansson she teaches dance styles from the 1920-1930’s around Europe and the US. Sofia is working as the manager of LGBT association Regnbågsfyren and is passionate about development, yield, age-integrated venues and active participation.

Søren B. Kristensen


Søren B. Kristensen is the driving force behind many concerts, activities and musical societies in Denmark, such as Project Nordic Band Camp, record label association Labelkollektiv and Nordkraft (Center for culture and leisure in Aalborg). Søren is a member of The Danish Arts Foundation’s Committee for Music Project Funding 2016-2017. He was the chairman of ORA – Organisation for Rhytmic Amateur musicians in 2010-2013.

Jette Sunesen


Jette Sunesen, director of Aarhus Centre for Literature, has studies literature and art history. Since 1996 she has worked with developing and spreading the literary landscape in Aarhus. She has worked at the association “Litteraturen på Scenen”, Kulturhus Aarhus, Aarhus Festuge and since 2012 as the director of Aarhus Centre for Literature. During the years Jette has participated in several collaborations and worked with both national and international partners. She has a large network and holds an extensive knowledge within art and literature.

Mari Savio


Mari Savio is the fund's Project Ambassadors for the funding programme HANDMADE. She helps to mobilize new applicants and gives advice on how to implement Nordic culture projects. Mari works as a designer, often in DIY-related projects, and develops projects at SuoMu – the Finnish Association of Design Learning. She has worked as a ‘Regional Artist’ for Taike, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, and has published several books on DIY and crafts.

Joakim Rindå


Joakim Rindå is head of support for organizers and a member of the National Theater in Stockholm. He was previously Head of Press at Unga Klara and works in the marketing department at the Stockholm City Theatre. Joakim has also been assistant to director Suzanne Osten and served on the board for the free theater group Teater Scenario. He has held various assignments from RFSL and Save the Children. Joakim is trained in, among other film and gender studies at Stockholm University and courses at the Dramatic Institute, Poppius and the Stockholm Film School.

Rita Leppiniemi


Rita Leppiniemi is an active and dedicated visual artist, curator and producer. She has among other worked at the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art NIFCA. Rita is especially interested in new and experimental art forms and she has been arranging and producing various projects and events.