The project is part of the Fund’s new Globus programme, which aims to boost cultural exchange in a socially sustainable manner. In addition to the Nordic Culture Fund, the project collaboration includes UNESCO’s Danish National Commission and its delegation in Paris.

“With this project, we wish to contribute to an enhanced understanding of the importance of art and culture in the development of societies. The 17 UN global goals have given us a common language for the sustainable development of the world until 2030. The role of culture in this connection is not clear, and there is a need to reflect on how art and culture contribute to the development of sustainabilities in the world. It is a question of the power of culture to create growth, social cohesion, co-operation and sustainability. In this area, we in the Nordic countries can lead the way through experiments, dialogue and anchoring that can help us to concretise and demonstrate the enormous importance of art and culture to our lives and future,” says Benny Marcel, director of the Nordic Culture Fund.

The project aims to create a Nordic alliance that will bring together experts from selected Nordic institutions. Using UNESCO’s tools, the network will focus on rights perspectives and develop a new narrative on the right to think, produce and communicate artistically, creatively and freely. This applies to maintaining freedom of expression in a broad sense in a Nordic context, but at least as much to ensuring that socially critical voices among artists, cultural actors, researchers and communicators worldwide are not deprived of the opportunity to express themselves.

“In our multilateral co-operation we have long had to deal with constant challenges to human rights and fundamental freedoms, and COVID-19 has turned out to reinforce these trends. We also see violations of special, profession-related freedoms which are crucial to modern societies. This applies to artists, scientists and teachers, journalists and other media workers. UNESCO has a mandate to protect freedom of expression and of the media, in the same way that the organisation must also protect artistic and scientific freedom and thereby help to ensure that, even in a global crisis situation, there is the opportunity for critical thinking that can challenge both the powerful and established truths,” says Carsten Staur, Denmark’s UNESCO ambassador to Paris.

The Nordic Culture Fund is contributing DKK 400,000 to the project, which will amongst other things explore and further develop the strong tradition that the Nordic countries have for working together, including in the area of artistic freedom, in international fora such as UNESCO. In addition to its role as a promoter of rights on the global stage, the project will also encourage discussion among the Nordic countries concerning how they meet their obligations in relation to, inter alia, the rights of artists and cultural actors.

“As we developed our thinking about Globus, we saw how artists and cultural practitioners today are increasingly turning towards the world and opening up boundaries through the arts and in human networks. At the same time, we saw a tendency for nations to close in upon themselves and to cultivate their own culture in ways that focus on narrow aims, rather than encouraging the promotion of cultural diversity of expression and transnational communities. This creates obstacles to the free movement of artists, and thus also to the opportunities of Nordic artists and cultural actors to create cohesion and co-operation that extends beyond their own national borders,” says Eline Sigfusson, deputy director of the Nordic Culture Fund and project manager of Globus.