ANORDIC Backgrounds15

The engine of the think tank's work is a living catalogue of knowledge, which will be presented together with the initiative today, 23 September, in Gothenburg at the Nordic Region's largest book fair.

"Launching a/nordi/c as the very first think tank for the arts and creative fields at Nordic level is a major step. We wish to be a new actor and a different kind of think tank that dares to look ahead and open up the political spectrum to arts and culture once again. This is needed in these times, not least in view of the enormous impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on cultural life throughout the Nordic countries and the world. The arts and the creative fields are fundamental prerequisites for cohesion, value and development, and we need a voice that can work across the artistic and political field to concretise this cohesion and ask the questions that no one else will ask," says Leif Jakobsson, chair of the board of a/nordi/c, and one of the initiators of the think tank. Jakobsson comes from a solid background in Nordic co-operation, and has extensive experience in board and trustee positions in a number of Nordic cultural institutions.

The think tank was developed out of a need to clarify the value and role of the arts in society, and to stimulate a more knowledge-driven and forward-looking development of cultural policy in the Nordic Region. The concept takes its point of departure in a dynamic model, in which knowledge and research are linked with cultural policy conversations and meetings, as well as with concrete experience from various partnership projects. The work will involve and benefit artists, cultural institutions and research, as well as policy-makers, international actors and other professional sectors.

The think tank will inspire and motivate new methods and thinking in cultural policy organisations and cultural institutions, both through concrete pilot projects and through a forward-looking approach to knowledge and conversations. Amongst other things, a/nordi/c will facilitate new types of meeting fora and discussion spaces where complex themes can be addressed in a freer and more open dialogue between actors in the arts, the creative fields and cultural policy. This will take place across countries and sectors, and in locations across the Nordic Region.

Strong Nordic starting-point
The Nordic is a central starting-point for the think tank's way of working, and is also reflected in the organisation's name, partners and board. Besides Jakobsson, the board consists of Frederik Tygstrup, head of the research programme "Art as Forum" at the University of Copenhagen, the Swedish journalist and playwright Gunilla Kindstrand, Ditte Graa Wulff, CEO and partner in the strategic foresight studio Bespoke Copenhagen and Maria Mediaas Jørstad, managing director of the foundation Talent Norge.

A/nordi/c originally grew out of a partnership initiative launched by the Nordic Culture Fund's strategic work to develop new contexts for cultural policy development in the Nordic Region. According to Eline Sigfusson, deputy director of the Nordic Culture Fund and current head of the a/nordi/c project group, the Nordic approach offers a unique opportunity to achieve new synergies, knowledge sharing and experience exchange across a wide range of different actors in the field. Working with the Nordic perspective also makes it possible to decouple the conversation from specific national contexts and create a space for innovation for the actors:

"There are many similarities between the Nordic countries when it comes to the organisation of art and culture, the basic principles of cultural policy and the tradition of public funding of art and culture. These institutional conditions can be compared in the Nordic countries, thereby making it possible to understand how the influence of cultural policy has altered in a Nordic perspective.

Unfortunately, we can see that, despite a historically high level of commitment to culture and cultural policy, the cultural policy situation in the Nordic countries is stagnating. Cultural policy as an independent field has been weakened, while the room for manoeuvre of artists and cultural institutions has been reduced. To reverse this trend, we need to come together in a new way, support new forms of knowledge, invite new actors into the conversation and create arenas and links across professional fields and societal sectors. The Nordic countries have a decades-long tradition of a free and independent artistic and cultural life. And we have a historic opportunity to lead the way towards a future where art and culture enjoy a more central and driving position," says Eline Sigfusson.

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