Nordic Culture Point is an official Nordic cultural institution. The organisation administers three Nordic funding programs, runs a cultural center and library in the heart of Helsinki, and arranges cultural events. The activities create physical, financial and digital space for cultural encounters in the Nordic Region and beyond.
Med de fleste nordiske kandidatene til Eurovision 2019 klare, så er fjorårets nederlag glemt og nye håp tent. Årets norske bidrag ble riktignok anklaget for å være plagiat av fjorårets finske bidrag, men vi minner om at det allerede med Bobbysocks viste seg at nordisk samarbeid lønner seg!
Til den internasjonale kvinnedagen har Nordisk kulturkontakt invitert en markant stemme fra Norge, med manga nordiske samarbeid i bagasjen. Her følger noen tips til aktuelle Nordiske samarbeid innen musikkfeltet, samt et tilbakeblikk på noen mer eller mindre langvarige, men minneverdige prosjekter.
Sinikka Langeland – The Magical Forest (konsert 8.mars) Sinikka Langeland er en eminent sanger og musiker med bakgrunn fra den skogfinske kulturen i Øst-Norge, og hun fremfører sin musikk på det finske nasjonalinstrumentet kantele. På konserten hos Nordisk kulturkontakt presenterer Langeland materiale fra prosjektet The Magical Forest som ble utviklet i samarbeid den finske trommeslageren Markku Ounaskari og den svenske bassisten Anders Jormin, samt flere sentrale norske jazz-musikere. CD-en er gitt ut på legendariske tyske ECM, som i år fyller 50 år, og som har vært et viktig samlingspunkt for det nordiske jazz-miljøet.
Reiner Fiske med Motorpsycho og Elephant9
Den ekstraordinære gitaristen Reiner Fiske (SE), fra det kritikerroste progrock-bandet Dungen, har de senere årene gjort flere spennende samarbeid med storheter fra miljøer i overgangen mellom rock og jazz i Norge. Fiske har deltatt på innspillinger og turneer med Motorpsycho (Still Life With Eggplant og Behind the Sun) og Elephant9 (Atlantis og Silver Mountain). Begge utgitt på det sentrale selskapet Rune Grammaphon. Delvis i samme gate, i noe mere energisk utgave, kan nevnes Ungdomskulen, med den emigrerte svenske vokalisten og gitaristen Kristian Stockhaus, som etter hvert er blitt en ledende figur innen Bergens musikkmiljø.
Fra folkemusikk-feltet har norsk-svenske Sver gjort markert se med sine to norske og tre svenske medlemmer. I samme miljø finner vi også Nordic Fiddlers Bloc med medlemmer fra Sverge, Norge og Shetland. Sver leverer storslagen folkemusikk med hemningsløs energi og forførerisk glød.
Sørover finner vi det svenske-dansk-færøyske samarbeidet Dreamers Circus som ble dannet etter en jam session på en folk-festival i København. I krysningsfeltet folk-klassisk kommer vi heller ikke utenom de etterhvert verdensberømte Barokksolistene, som spiller pop/folk-musikk rett fra 16- og 17-talls puber og vertshus. Gruppen ledes av Bjarte Eike (NO) med medlemmer fra Danmark og resten av Europa.
Björk og Mikael Vainio Legendariske Björk (IS) og den nylig avdøde finske elektro-artisten Mikael Vainio samarbeidet om BBC-dokumentaren Modern Minimalists der Bjørk introduserer Vainios musikk for et større publikum. De virket begge i relaterte musikalske miljøer i London på 90-tallet, og Vaino gjorde en remix av Headphones fra Post-albumet. Vainio som startet i Pan Sonic og Sähkö Records Collective, innen rave og elektro-scenen, nøt etter hvert anerkjennelse også i kunstmusikkmiljøer. Vainio døde i 2017
Röyksopp med Robin og Karin Dreijer Electronica-pionerene Röyksopp (NO) gjorde flere vellykkede samarbeid med svenske artister, som også hadde markert seg sterkt på andre halvdel av 00-tallet. Særlig vellykket var singelen What Else Is There?, der Röyksopps suggererende musikk smelter sammen med Karin Dreijers (SE) særpregede stemme. Det hele toppes med en påkostet hypnotisk og mørk video. Dreijer er kjent fra gruppene The Knife, med broren Olof, og etter hvert sitt eget Fever Ray.
Som honorable mention kommer vi ikke utenom nevnte Bobbysocks – La det Swinge, en ekte dansband gladlåt i svensk ånd, men som likevel gjorde slutt på Sveriges Nordiske dominans i Eurovisjonen. Bobbysocks var et samarbeid mellom Hanne Krogh (NO) og Elisabeth Andreassen (SE), men sangen representerte altså Norge. Skandinaviske låtskriver har etter hvert også gjort seg sterkt bemerket som bakmenn for andre nasjoners bidrag.
In her roles as Director of Learning and Interpretation at the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen and expert adviser to Nordic Culture Point’s art and culture programme and the Volt language and culture programme for children and young people, Berit Anne Larsen has extensive experience in reading various types of grant applications. Ahead of the several rounds of applications due to take place in Nordic cultural funding programmes next year, Berit is offering her top tips and advice for how to hone your application and make it as relevant as possible.
1. Be proud of the Nordic perspective
We’re always pleased to see applicants’ texts mentioning Nordic potential in the form of co-operation. We enjoy reading about people’s curiosity about and searches for something “Nordic”. The pan-Nordic perspective shouldn’t merely safeguard co-operation; it should also be central to the concept, content, and process of the project.
2. Give a clear description of the project
It’s essential that the text give a clear overview of the project. The text should be clear, concise, and well-formulated.
3. Ensure the application has roots in all parties to the project
Set aside enough time to discuss the project with your partners before writing the application. This ensures ownership of and sustainability in the project, and these discussions will be reflected in the final application. As readers, we can tell from the text when the application has its basis in collective discussion. Furthermore, this reassures the readers assessing the applications that all partners feel involved in the project and that everyone knows what they’ll be expected to do should the funding be approved. In other words, the application can be seen as a kind of psychological contract of co-operation.
4. Remember to ensure consistency between the project description and the budget
Make sure there is a connection between what you say, what you intend to do, and the activities you’ve budgeted for. A lot of otherwise good applications fall down because of an imbalance between what’s written down and the figures. It may be a good idea to start with the budget when working on your application. What activities would you like to get funding for, and what needs to be done for you to pull them off?
5. Treat the funding with respect
The programmes exist to support the applicants and to provide a foundation from which positive cultural contributions can grow and come to fruition. In other words, there is an ethical aspect to both the granting of and the application for project funding. This requires that both the experts making the decisions and the applicants themselves act responsibly. By way of example, the budget should not have huge administration expenses and just tiny amounts for the artist or cultural practitioner.
“Alone we walk faster but together we get further”. This is how Pernille Fenger, Chief of UNFPA Nordic Office and Camilla Brückner, Director of UNDP Nordic Representation Office describe the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its action plan 2030 Agenda.
The UN General Assembly agreed upon new SDGs and the 2030 Agenda in 2015. The SDGs are a continuation of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), set in 2000. However, unlike the previous set of goals, the new SDGs are universal, including and involving all nations instead of developing countries only. 2030 Agenda consists of 17 goals and 169 objectives, aiming to build a sustainable future regarding ecological, economical and human perspectives. The goals are interlinked, therefore, it is not possible to achieve one goal without achieving the others too.
The Nordic Council of Ministers is committed to advance 2030 Agenda in its political collaboration. The Nordic Council of Ministers’ action plan is called Generation 2030. As the name suggests, the focus is on children and youth as the builders of better tomorrow. The Nordic countries have advanced the 2030 Agenda’s values already for decades and it is no coincidence, that the new SDGs have a lot in common with the Nordic model. Thanks to Nordic involvement for example, gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda.
“Fifty years ago the world declared family planning to be a basic human right. Nordic countries have supported the implementation of reproductive rights both politically and economically, turning the focus to maternal health, contraception and gender based violence. The Nordics have shown leadership in gender equality questions and today, over 50% of UNFPA’s funding comes from the Nordic countries”, says Pernille Fenger.
UNFPA is the United Nations reproductive health and rights agency. Their mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.. Improving the rights of women and girls is central to achieving many of the goals on the 2030 Agenda. Fenger presents chilling statistics which show the utmost importance of the joint development efforts:
“If we do not achieve the goals regarding reproductive rights and gender equality by 2030, it means that during the next fifteen years 150 million girls will end up in child marriage and 68 million girls will become victims of female genital mutilation.”
The Nordic countries are a trusted and neutral partner in the international collaboration and according to Brückner, the Nordics should use their position much more actively in development negotiations. Brückner expect active participation from the Nordic countries in the UN, as well as financial contributions to secure the UN’s core functions and funding. Brückner finds it problematic, that many UN institutions lack secure core funding because the amount of money ear-marked for funding domestic policy agendas has risen. However, in development efforts a holistic approach is necessary, which becomes manifest in times of sudden crises, such the Syrian or Ebola crises.
“UNDP’s delayed response to the Syrian crisis was due to our lack of core funding”, Brückner explains.
“Some areas of development work are ‘sexier’ ‘ than others. For example, funding is needed for data collection, but is not as easy to sell to donors as, for example, vaccinations, where it is easier to measure an immediate impact. ”, Fenger continues.
The Nordic Council of Ministers has published an evaluation on how the Nordic countries are succeeding in reaching the SDGs. Bumps on the Road to 2030 shows, that the Nordic countries have a lot of work to do yet when it comes to the climate goals. Actions are needed in, for example, making agricultural systems greener, lowering CO2 emissions, waste management, protection of marine sites, controlling deforestation and especially, accommodating responsible consumption and production practices. SDG number 12, Responsible Consumption and Production, is a special focus area for the Nordic Council of Ministers until 2020.
Environmental questions have a bigger role in SDGs that their predecessors, MDGs did. Camilla Brückner emphasizes, that it is not possible to do development work without taking the environment into consideration. We are currently going through a transit period, where many industries are moving towards sustainable production processes. Brückner stresses the governments’ role in pushing the sustainability agenda forward. She calls for clear and uniform legislation and suggests incentives to make the change more attractive to businesses and industries.
“The ongoing change provides endless business opportunities and room for innovation. There will inevitably be winners and losers in this process. Moving towards sustainable production will be rewarding for the pioneers despite of higher initial costs. Also, sustainable companies are attractive to future oriented investors. On the other hand, different industry lobby groups are very powerful, and for example various harmful chemicals are still on the market despite there already being safe alternatives.”
Consumers also hold a great share of the responsibility and Fenger reminds us, that every single action is significant.
“As consumers we have a great deal of power. The most simple way to affect environmental issues is to pay attention to one’s own purchase and consumption habits. If there are not sustainable alternatives on the market yet, it is the consumer’s responsibility to demand them. For example, plastic is one of the key environmental problems of our time, and it is possible for consumers to put pressure on politicians to make sustainable decisions and pull certain products completely out of the market.”
In fact, steps to reduce plastic waste are already being taken. The European Commission recently published a proposal of new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas. The proposal also suggests, that having one set of rules for the whole EU market will create a springboard for European companies to be more competitive in the booming global marketplace for sustainable products.
There is still a long way to go, but it is important to remember to stop and enjoy the results we have already gained, Brückner and Fenger remind us. The outcomes of the MDGs were impressive and based on this evidence we have a good reason to believe that the international community is able to reach the goals by 2030 together. However, it is a question of will. Reaching these goals means redistribution of wealth, which requires leadership and a strong political vision. Here the Nordic countries have a central role to play.
Advisor Annukka Vähäsöyrinki from the Nordic Culture Point interviewed Pernille Fenger, Chief of United Nations Population Fund’s Nordic Office and Camilla Brückner, Director of United Nations Development Programme’s Nordic Representation Office about 2030 Agenda. Camilla Brückner and Pernille Fenger visited Helsinki in May, giving also a talk at the World Village festival together with president Tarja Halonen, WFP’s Government Partnership Officer Heidi Olli, Prime Minister’s Office’s Senior Specialist on sustainable development Sami Pirkkala and The Family Federation of Finland’s Director of Global Development Unit Elina Korhonen.
The #metoo campaign has awoken many memories. Memories that one would rather have buried, but never could. Memories of a speeding and fearful heart, of sweaty hands placed where they should not, of a sex pressed against your thigh in an elevator or hurtful words and humiliating comments.
But #metoo has also made us women talk openly about sexual harassment and sexual abuse. We have shared the memories which we’ve often kept to ourselves, and we have proven that which we knew all along, that sexual harassment is an epidemic found in our daily lives, an epidemic that is never latent but which flares up and casts ugly shadows on our society and that scars for life. That no woman is vaccinated against this epidemic, regardless of age. The testimonies that arose from the #metoo campaign show that this type of offensive treatment – especially affecting girls and women – is widespread in the Nordic countries. The harassment is everywhere in our community and the field of culture is definitely no exception.
For several decades, the Nordic Region has served as inspiration in gender equality for other countries, often at the top of global rankings with regards to this. At the same time we cannot boast and say that the job is done when women in Sweden, in industry after industry, have called out “enough”. In Norway, both actors and musicians have signed an appeal against this treatment, while in Iceland politicians and actors have spoken out as witnesses to abuse. In Finland, women in the cultural sector have signed an appeal and testified of broken boundaries and offensive behavior and the Finland-Swedish hashtag #dammenbrister [red: translates to “the dam is breaking” – a reference to the Finland-Swedish community which often refers to itself as the ‘duck pond’] has collected more than 6000 signatures. Also in Denmark, female singers have testified of abuse and harassment.
Sexual harassment and abuse is not a private matter, it is a societal problem. It shows women and men are not fully equal in the society. And no, of course, ALL men do not grope, harass or use others bodies without permission. But almost all women have been exposed to this behavior. When nearly half of everyone in a society is affected, it is the other half that need to put an end to the harassment and abuse. The problem of sexual harassment should be addressed on a broad political front, but it is also our responsibility to address the structural problem. I am pleased that the Finnish Parliament has debated sexual harassment. And I am pleased that the Swedish minister of culture has taken a strong stand against harassment and abuse. The fact that the Nordic prime ministers discussed #metoo during a ministerial meeting in Helsinki was also very welcome and I look forward to see how Sweden will be taking the matter further and what proposals for action will be presented in the coming year when the Swedes hold the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
We can start by reviewing our own work community, associations and organizations, and ensuring that we have a plan for how to identify harassment and how to deal with these issues. And we must continue to talk about sexual harassment. The #metoo campaign has served as an eye opener, now we have all responsibility to use this knowledge. Together we can create a society where girls and women, boys and men are respected and feel safe and heard by others. A society where no one laughs at a friend’s questionable story or turns a blind eye when he or she can see that the woman sitting opposite them obviously does not want the stranger’s hands on her breasts. Together, we can also raise future generations in a way that makes them respect others bodies, to boldly face unpleasant situations and to be responsive and respectful. Then we deserve to be an inspirational example on the road towards equality in eyes of the world.
NIKK (Nordic Information on Gender) has done a survey of what legislation applies in the Nordic countries when it comes to sexual harassment. The survey can be found here.
WRITTEN BY: Anna Jungner-Nordgren, Communications Advisor, Norden i Fokus Finland.
The Nordics have for long been known to pioneer many cultural scenes – but our success in the creation of video- and computer games have only begun to be noticed. This despite Danish IO Interactive’s groundbreaking Hitman series, which was launched in 2000. Or the world-renowned Battlefield games, developed by DICE in Sweden for the past 15 years. But as the world starts to pay more and more attention to video- and computer games, the Nordic accomplishments within this field are acknowledged.
Here are five of my favorite Nordic games right now!
Eve Online (IS)
The Icelandic space epic Eve Online feels like it’s always been around. Since its launch in 2003, the game has been updated with over 40 add-on packages – which one might compare to a television series with 40 seasons. The game is a so-called “Massively multiplayer online role-playing game”, which is a genre best known for World of Warcraft.
The difference between these two titles is primarily the world they are set in – but also what opportunities the players are given to influence their surroundings. The really big player-groups of Eve form great alliances in order to wage war against others or to create an economic shift, effectively reshaping the entire in-game market.
I have merely spent a few hours exploring the vast universe of Eve, which is nothing compared to the time dedicated to it by others. But it’s a game that I always enjoy reading about – like when a mega-ship, after months of construction of an alliance, gets stolen by a rival through some intricate heist.
Available on Microsoft Windows, macOS.
Cities: Skylines (FI)
Colossal Order from Tampere, Finland, are the studio behind this “city builder” game, which is exactly what it sounds like. From a bird’s eye view, the player constructs houses, industrial areas, bus routes and ensures that the city has enough water and electricity – and much, much more.
This genre is most strongly associated with the SimCity series, but its latest sequel was not well-received by critics. However, the failure of this sequel is what gave Colossal Order the courage to give the genre a whirl, resulting in Cities: Skylines. The game was a commercial success and I’ll happily admit to having spent countless hours optimizing subways, planting trees, and trying to keep my citizens happy.
Available on Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.
Cities: SkylinesOwlboy (NO)
Owlboy, developed for a whopping nine years by a small independent studio in the city of Bergen in Norway, is a story-driven platform game in 2D (think Super Mario). The player controls Otus, who has the power of flight. It is with this power, as well as those provided to him by the game’s many side-characters that help him survive.
Owlboy, which been on my must-play-list for some time, first caught my attention with its retro-aesthetics which the developers themselves call “Hi-Bit”. It’s reminiscent of games from the 90’s Super Nintendo era with its 8 and 16-bit graphics, but with the ability to display many (many!) more pixels. It’s hard to describe, but the image below might give an idea of what it all looks like.
Available on Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.
Inside perfectly encapsulates the visual storytelling principle of “Show, do not tell”. The story of the game is solely conveyed through the player’s actions and by traversing the dystopian world that Inside takes place in. The game is not only understated in terms of storytelling, but with regards to gameplay, as the player is never given any instructions on how to play the game. Of course, Danish developers Playdead have filled the world of Inside with smart visual cues on how to solve the game’s many puzzles, but you can get through the game without reading a single line of text.
The game is quite short. I got through it in about three hours, but it was time well spent.
Available on Microsoft Windows, iOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.
Writing as a veteran of video- and computer games, I have played many games. Hundreds of them. That’s why I hardly ever boot up a new game and somehow do not immediately recognize the concept and know pretty much what to expect. Maybe that’s the reason why I fell in love with the wild and utterly unique Clustertruck by Landfall Games from Sweden.
The idea is simple. Fifty or so uncontrollable lorries drive head-on through a minefield of obstacles which crash and flip the vehicles. As the player, you must jump from truck roof to truck roof in order to reach the finish line without falling to the ground. The courses vary in theme and constantly introduce new types of traps for you and the lorries to fall into. Your reflexes are constantly tested – and believe me – you will fail over and over. But the rush of getting through a level in Clustertruck is unbeatable.
Available on Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.
TEXT: Alexander Brenner, Communications Advisor at the Nordic Culture Point.
This year, Sweden holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. To honor this, we contacted the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy Alice Bah-Kuhnke and asked her which are the most interesting cultural phenomena and events in Sweden this year. Below you can read her answers!
The Nationalmuseum in Stockholm opens again
”A historical event in 2018 is that the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm opens up again after the first thorough renovation of the 150-old museum. I look very much forward to visit the new, more spacious and improved premises for art that are now being created. In addition, Nationalmuseum Jamtli in Östersund opens up. The collections of Nationalmuseum and the pedagogic and public work of Jamtli hold high promises.”
Nordic cultural summit in Malmö
”One of the highlights of the year is the Nordic Cultural Summit in Malmö in May 2018 that I invite to together with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, the Region Skåne, the Nordic Culture Fund and the Nordic Council of Ministers. With Nordic, national, regional and local actors, we will discuss how we together can strengthen and improve the prerequisites for culture in the whole Nordic Region.”
100 Year Jubilee of Ingmar Bergman
”The Culture Year 2018 will of course also reflect the fact that Ingmar Bergman would have turned 100 years. The jubilee takes place in many locations both in Sweden and abroad, not least in the newly re-opened Swedish Museum of Performing Arts. The Museum has even started to collect testimonials from #tystnadtagning (#lightscameraaction”) – the Swedish performing artists’ part of #metoo. This dark side of culture and society will of course set its mark on 2018 and beyond.”
Despite the many prizes and critical acclaim, Swedish film does not attract a lot of audience in its home country at the moment. However, in my work of putting together Nordic film programme for a Finnish audience, the Swedish film has a lot to offer. Movies that have barely been featured in cinemas in Sweden are appreciated and perceived as fresh and thought-provoking in the right context.
Here are some tips on Swedish films from the past few years. Each of them provides new perspectives; something that cinema audiences are not often pampered with. These films are small productions and two of them are the first feature films of their respective director. For this reason, the audience may need some extra help to find the films. These are films that touch and leave a mark. They are especially suitable for situations with the possibility of a discussion after the screening.
MEDAN VI LEVER (Dani Koyaté, Sweden 2016)
This is a universal story on a changing identity. What is “home”, when one has lived in several different places? What is “home” for a generation, what is “home” for the next one? In this film, we meet main characters that give us a perspective that we are not so used to seeing in Nordic films. We meet Kandia, an African woman who decides to move back to Gambia after 30 years in Sweden. Her son, born and raised in Sweden, does not share the same longing. He travels to Gambia too, in order to make his mother return home. How will these two people experience their former home country?
The movie won the category “Best movie made by an African abroad” in the renowned African Movie Academy Awards 2017. This is the first Swedish-language film by Dani Koyaté. He lives in Uppsala but is originally from Burkina Faso.
Medan vi lever - Svensktextad officiell trailer (1080p) - Vimeo
JORDGUBBSLANDET (Wiktor Ericsson, Sweden 2017)
The film tells the story of the 15-year-old Wojtek who has come from Poland to Sweden together with his parents to work as a strawberry picker. Working in a farm, he becomes friends with the farmer’s daughter Anneli. The two start meeting each other in secret, despite of the substantial status difference between the pickers and the locals. The film is a love story, but also a realistic and therefore unpleasant examination of how we interact with each other, and how different starting points and prospects we have. Jordgubbslandet is one of the most acclaimed films of the year in Sweden. It has, among others, been compared to Roy Andersson’s breakthrough film En kärlekshistoria.
Jordgubbslandet - trailer - YouTube
AEROBICS – A LOVE STORY (Anders Rune, Sweden 2014)
The film deals with the right to love someone. What are the limits for self-determination? Does physical impairment imply loss of the right to love? Aerobics – A Love Story is a story of Maria and Janne and their love, which is met with questioning and prohibition. Maria is physically impaired and Janne suffers from depression, but together they find love and happiness. However, Maria’s sister is responsible for Maria, and she fears that Maria will be taken advantage of. Therefore, she stops the couple from continuing their relationship. It is hard to know what is right, and what is a violation of the rights of the other person.
Official Trailer "AEROBICS A Love Story" - Vimeo
WRITTEN BY: Mikaela Westerlund, Executive Director for Walhalla rf, which promotes the Nordic film in Finland; Project Ambassador for the Nordic Culture Fund.
A few years ago when I visited a school in early December, I saw a wish list that the students had made in preparation for Christmas. Of course there were Christmas wishes for things such as smartphones, tablet computers and various toys listed. But what struck me then was that several of the students had wished for both time with their families and to share activities with them.
In my job as a librarian, I often meet children and young people. There are many who like to read, but some have not yet found their book. I know that reading isn’t for everyone, but everyone should have a chance to relax. I believe that many of today’s children and young people are not always aware that maybe what they’re missing is a nice story and a good reading experience.
To help the child into the world of books, role models who read are needed. Through small actions, adults can show their children that reading is both an important and relaxing pastime. Therefore, during the upcoming Christmas holidays, we could focus on reading through small deeds.
Bring your child on a trip to your local library sometime in December. Ask a librarian for help in finding books that the child may be interested in reading on her/his own. Ask also for a book that you can read aloud together. Sometimes reading aloud with your young ones can inspire them to read more by themselves. Also, it’s never wrong to spend time together reading to each other. If, on the other hand, you have a teenager in the house, I suggest you read the same book and pause on a regular basis to talk about your reading experiences. Or, choose an audiobook to listen to during a long drive. Every little helps…
I wish you many nice reading moments together and a wonderful Christmas holiday!
There are a lot of wonderful stories out there. Below are some suggestions for Nordic books for children and young adults which were published in 2016-2017 and that have been translated into English.
Books for children:
Havukainen: Tatu and Patu’s Marvelous Christmas
Kaaberbol: The Wildwitch-series
Nesbø, Doctor Proctor- books
Parr: Astrid the Unstoppable
Parvela: Bicycling to the moon
Wegelius: The Murderer’s Ape
Widmark, The Jerry-Maya Detective Agency-books
Books for teens:
Simukka: As red As Blood-series
Turtschaninoff: Maresi: The Red Abbey Chronicles Book 1
All the Nordic countries have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It states that all children have a right to participate in art and culture. In the Nordic countries, there are a number of best practices to inspire us.
The UN children’s right convention was celebrated on November 20th. A couple of days earlier, I had a conversation with Professor Anne Bamford, who has made surveys worldwide for Unesco regarding children’s access to the arts. Here are her most positive examples of how this right manifests itself in the Nordic countries.
Tónstofa Vargerðar is an Icelandic music school, specialized in offering music lessons to physically or mentally challenged young people. Dr. Bamford underlined the joy participating in musical activities can offer, even to someone with severe impairments. With the technology and knowledge of today, active participation is possible . The school in Iceland is alone in its specialization, unfortunately long waiting lists mean that many children are not able to get in.
In Denmark, Anne Bamford highlighted the kindergartens and the Danish kindergarten teachers, who both use active pedagogics and are aware of how important their work is for the participation of small children in creative processes. She also mentioned another Danish best practice: the Ministry for Culture has reintroduced singing on a daily basis, not only in kindergartens and schools, but in meetings and conferences as well. Denmark sings!
In the Faroe Islands, Anne Bamford was impressed by young people finding art and music education on the internet, teaching themselves instruments, creating bands, as well as learning visual arts and film making. Creativity outside the institutions lives well.
Professor Anne Bamford
The teachers’ education in Finland is unique in the world. No teacher leaves training without tools for teaching in the creative subjects and use creative tools in other subjects as well. The research of Anne Bamford has consistently showed that learning in and through the arts has a well documented positive influence on wellbeing as well as on achievements. But this holds true only if the teacher has a solid professional ground to stand on – if not, the damage may outweigh the gains.
A strength in Sweden is giving room to difference –an increasingly diverse cultural expression, reflecting the changing population. The Swedish culture schools have taken big steps to include many forms of art. This is a positive change from the traditional pattern in the Western world, where music schools have been state institutions, whereas dance, drama and visual arts schools have been primarily privately run.
In Norway, the flag ship is the Cultural Rucksack, a school touring programme which guarantees that all Norwegian school children will be able to experience art at least three times yearly throughout their school time. Dr. Bamford has herself criticized the programme for all too often providing isolated one time experiences of art. In our discussion, however, she stressed that, considering the geographical and logistical challenges in Norway, it is quite sensational to have a nationwide priority programme that truly reaches all pupils, no matter how remote their school may be.
But what, then, can the Nordic cooperation contribute with to promote the right of all children to art and culture? I mentioned the Nordic Culture Point’s grant programme Volt, where you people up to 25 years of age can get support for their own initiatives. Dr. Bamford immediately responded “That’s good!”, underlining how many of the best projects are born where the young people are given the support to create themselves.
She also called for compiling an overview of the existing reports and research. Such an overview would facilitate interchange of ideas and inspirations for all who work with children and young people in the Nordic countries.
TEXT: Hedvig Westerlund-Kapnas, Senior Advisor at the Nordic Culture Point
Dagfinn Høybråten, the secretary general for the Nordic Council of Ministers, believes that Nordic values and the usage of new channels and arenas are essential for the Nordic cultural cooperation.
I met Høybråten in Greenland’s capital Nuuk, in connection with the Nuuk Nordic Culture Festival. One of the main organizers of the festival is the Nordic Institute of Greenland (NAPA), which, like the Nordic Culture Point, is a cultural institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Høybråten tells us that locating the institutions in geographically peripheral areas is a strategic choice. They serve as Nordic windows and venues in their own areas. The cultural institutions also work closely together, creating ties between the different peripheral regions.
– NAPA has, for example, a central role on the cultural scene of Greenland. We also know that many Greenlanders want more Nordic cooperation. NAPA’s visibility in Greenland may well be a contributing factor to that.
Culture has a central role
The budget for the Nordic cultural cooperation in 2017 is 23 million euros. Most of the sum is awarded in the form of grants for art and culture projects via the Council of Ministers’ grant programs. The rest is used to fund the Nordic cultural institutions and the Nordic Council’s annual prizes for culture.
I asked why culture has such a central place in Nordic cooperation. Høybråten reminded me that the Nordic cooperation is value-centred, and that the current cooperation between the Nordic governments started with cultural cooperation.
– Culture is a natural starting point, because it brings people together and is in many ways the driving force of society. There would be no Nordic cooperation without the cultural community.
He states that, naturally, the geographical proximity within the region would be there in any case, but that the relationship between the neighboring countries could have been expressed in confrontation instead.
– Cultural cooperation also touches us humans in a completely different way than many political processes do.
Culture’s own value
Today, many arrive in the Nordic region from the rest of the world. The Nordic Council of Ministers wants to do its part by facilitating the integration of newcomers into society. That’s why cultural cooperation as a means of integration is currently being invested in.
When I asked more about the subject, Høybråten first emphasized the intrinsic value of culture. Culture is always important in its own right, and the instrumental value always comes second. He then continues on the topic of integration by explaining that the reason why the Nordic Council of Ministers invest in culture as a tool for integration is because culture offers opportunities for human meetings and togetherness.
– One of the most important Nordic values is the equality of all people. This in in theory quite obvious, but in practice this value is being tested daily, as we encounter differences among our fellow human beings.
People are different, and our interests in – and interpretations of – culture vary. Nevertheless, culture basically speaks to us in the same way.
– This is the integrating power of culture. It works in the community, in associations and the like, but also within nations and between nations. That’s what cultural exchange and cooperation are all about. I think that is the main reason why Norway, holding the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017, has included culture and integration as a strong theme in their programme.
The Nordic region sparks international interest
Høybråten believes that culture will become an increasingly important part of the Nordic cooperation in the future.
– The interest in the Nordic region from the rest of the world has a lot to do with cultural expressions such as literature, films and TV shows. This is evident when looking at the great Nordic joint ventures of “Nordic Cool” in Washington D.C. in 2013 and all the things that are going on at “Nordic Matters” at the Southbank Center in London.
Promoting Nordic culture and art goes hand in hand with talking about our social models and values, Høybråten believes.
– All the different ways of profiling and positioning the Nordic region internationally are important. Therefore, I believe that even those who are not particularly interested in culture have realised the importance of cultural cooperation.
Finland’s role in the Nordic cooperation
The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Session and Prize Gala will this year be organized in Helsinki in early November. As a Finn, I am interested in how my interviewee views Finland’s importance in the Nordic region and within the Nordic cooperation. Finland stands out in the Nordic countries in terms of language.
Høybråten regards Finland as a very important part of the Nordic region. He also thinks that Finns perceive themselves as an important part of the Nordic family.
– Finland represents the diversity of the Nordic countries, both culturally and linguistically. It is a challenge, but even more of an opportunity as the Nordic cooperation presents Finland with many opportunities.
Høybråten explains that during the year he has had two good reasons for delving deeper into the history of Finland: the Nordic Council Session and the 100th Anniversary of Finland.
– I have learned that many of the forces that started the Nordic cooperation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were the same as those working for Finland’s independence a hundred years ago. One could even say that modern Finland and the modern Nordic cooperation share the same roots.