The anthology “Reflections – art, culture, politics, society” has been compiled by the Nordic Culture Fund, and builds upon the Fund’s ambition to broaden the perspective on art and cultural policy and develop an understanding of the importance of art and culture in society.
The anthology has been produced over four years in close collaboration with the Swedish journalist and playwright Gunilla Kindstrand. It contains essays and conversations with a number of thinkers, researchers, officials and artists, all of whom have extensive experience from various fields in the Nordic region and beyond.
“We are delighted that with this anthology, we can invite a new and necessary debate about cultural policy in the Nordic countries. For a number of years, the Nordic Culture Fund has been working to create new contexts for cultural policy development at Nordic level, often based on the specialised knowledge that the cultural actors possess. We can see that the role of art and culture in the welfare society has changed, and that there is a need to rethink some of the institutional premises and concepts that have long served as a self-evident cultural policy grammar in the Nordic countries. With this anthology, we have therefore taken the initiative to collect some new perspectives and create space for voices that will help to broaden the discussion framework and form an inspiring basis for further conversations about the cultural policy of the future,” says Benny Marcel, Director of the Nordic Culture Fund.
Unique contributions from various parts of the Nordic region
The book’s contributors include Ove Kaj Pedersen, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Political Economy, Eva Bergquist, Director of the Culture Administration, Region Stockholm, the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, Maria Jørstad, Managing Director of Talent Norge, and Frederik Tygstrup, Director of the research project “Art as Forum”. The articles involve and discuss such topics as the role of the arts in a democracy, the issue of centre and periphery, the relationship between the national and the global, the development of the financial and institutional framework for arts and culture, and the crucial role of arts and culture in the development of sustainable societies.
The content has been prepared and compiled both before and after the onset of the corona pandemic.
“There is broad recognition that cultural policy is finding it increasingly difficult to make itself relevant to society, but there have been few forums where these issues can be discussed openly and freely,” says Gunilla Kindstrand, who conducted the interviews in the book and edited the anthology. “The Nordic perspective does not have the same blockages as the national ones, which has helped to create an interesting sense of freedom in the interviews. The conversations often went their own unpredictable ways, and the ambition has been to highlight some themes, but also to try to preserve the complexity of the conversations.”
Wish to involve more actors in future
The anthology highlights some current needs and trends in the cultural policy landscape which call for enhanced dialogue and cooperation across national borders and sectors of society. No ready answers are provided, which is why the continuation of the anthology is important.
As part of the anthology’s afterlife, the Nordic Culture Fund is planning a series of meetings in the various Nordic countries where the book’s themes and insights will be subject to further discussion. A number of these meetings are being organised under the auspices of the new Nordic Partnership project, which the Fund launched last year, and which is expected to be fully established this autumn. The organisation will serve as a platform and infrastructure for cross-cutting partnerships, exchanges of experience, and discussions of arts and culture and their relationship to and impact on Nordic societies.
“The anthology helps to illustrate how the need has arisen to rethink existing models, create new knowledge and build dialogue across different sectors of society. We can see that many more actors will be able to come together and help to proactively stimulate the development of cultural policy by using resources to gather knowledge and create arenas for conversations at regional, national and Nordic level.
We are therefore initiating a new partnership that will function as a think tank, a meeting place, and a venue for new cross-cutting partnerships. With this initiative, we will work to ensure that we in the Nordic region have the opportunity to lead the way. Through experiments, dialogue and anchoring, we can produce concrete examples and demonstrate the enormous importance of art and culture to our lives and future, both inside and outside the Nordic region,” says Eline Sigfusson, Deputy Director of the Nordic Culture Fund and one of the editors of the anthology.