N O R W A Y
0. INTRODUCTION *
The Kingdom of Norway has a population of just over 4,38 million in an area of about 387,000 sq. kilometres. The country's topography, with fjords, mountains, narrow valleys and large distances, has contributed to the division of the Norwegian nation into many rather dissimilar areas and regions. Norway is divided into 18 regions/counties (Fylket) and 448 municipalities. For historical reasons Norway has limited urban traditions, and there was no natural centre of influence around the capital city (Oslo) until the 1800s. Norway had been under Danish rule for about 400 years when the country adopted its own constitution and entered into union with Sweden in 1814. During that period, Norway's national cultural traditions were not recognized. The century from 1814 to 1905, when Norway seceded from the union with Sweden and crowned her own king, is characterized as the great classical phase in the building of the nation.
As regards culture and cultural policy, language is certainly the most important cultural foundation for Norwegians. Norway has two official written languages, bokml and nynorsk, and innumerable local dialects. In the national-romantic period, the connection between art and national identity was strong, both amongst artists and amongst officials and politicians. The most important difference between Norwegian cultural policy of the early post-war years and that of the present day is that the general goals are now included in a social policy perspective.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Norway became a multi-cultural society to a greater extent. This happened particularly owing to increased immigration, but also because the living conditions and culture of the Sami/Lapp population had gained a more important place in Norwegian culture and policy than before. One of the priorities of the present cultural policy is to enable the Sami minority to preserve and develop its own language and culture.
Norway is the prototype of the Nordic model of cultural administration, characterised by a weighty public sector, a high level of organisation, strongly union-oriented and politically influential artists associations, public subsidies to artists which are usually explained by socio-political arguments, a concept of decentralisation, democratisation and distribution based on local self-government, egalitarian values, and tendencies to eliminate or simulate the play of market forces.
Norwegian cultural policy is a post-war phenomenon. Legislation in the field covers a few special sectors, such as cultural heritage, including the Norwegian and Sami languages, public and school libraries, radio and television. There is no general legislation to cover the entire cultural field. The possibility of setting up such legislation has been discussed, but so far the government has preferred merely to draw up certain guiding principles and major objectives. In the 1970s, the Ministry of Church and Education prepared a number of reports to the Storting (national parliament) concerning cultural activities, such as the Report to the Storting No. 8 (1973-74) relating to the organization and financing of cultural work, Report to the Storting No. 52 (1973-74): New Cultural Policy, and Report to the Storting No. 41 (1975-76): Artists and Society. Although the economy stagnated in the 1980s, there were several important cultural reports, such as the Report to the Storting No. 21 (1983-84): Film in the Media Society, and Report to the Storting No. 23 (1984-85): Cultural Policy for the 1980s. The conservative government that took over in 1981 also prepared an appendix to this (Report to the Storting No. 27 /1983-84/: New Tasks in Cultural Policy) and a general media report (Report to the Storting No. 84 /1984-85/: Relating to a New Media Policy). In 1992, in response to new challenges in the cultural sphere, a new Report to the Storting: No 61 (1991-92) 'Kultur i tiden', was presented to the Storting. A report to the Storting on Media Policy is due in 1993.
Norwegian politics is coloured by the ideals of the welfare state: economic security for individuals and groups, reducing uncertainty, in the case of illness and unemployment, and ensuring the best possible standards of social services for all citizens. In the cultural field, as regards the welfare aspect, the artist must, as far as possible, be on an equal footing with other groups in working life.1
The state considers itself as the employer of artists and grants them the right to negotiate on issues of labour, salary and social rights.
Since 1 January 1990, the responsibility for the national cultural policy lies with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The Ministry has at its disposal several public councils, as advisory bodies, covering different cultural sectors. The most important is the Norwegian Cultural Council established in 1964 with the intention of decentralizing the administration of state cultural subsidies so that counties and municipalities could use them to a greater extent according to the local needs and priorities. The Council has three main functions: (1) to appropriate funds for special projects; (2) to carry on experimental work for short periods; (3) to undertake report studies and give advice.
The government finds it important to discuss questions concerning cultural affairs in a broad context and with other ministries, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has its own cultural department, which is responsible for cultural agreements with other countries, including exchange programmes (apart from the Nordic countries), the promotion of Norwegian culture abroad, etc. Since 1975-1976, cultural administration on the regional and local level is organized through popularly elected county and municipal cultural committees. Today, each county and municipality has a Chief Officer for Cultural Affairs and a cultural administration. The cultural committees in the counties and municipalities co-ordinate the work of the national and regional/local institutions. They already have the function of decentralizating decision-making in the cultural sphere.
Non-governmental cultural institutions
The main non-governmental institutions are the voluntary organizations, especially in the field of adult education, youth work and sport. Almost all voluntary organizations receive some kind of state support. Norwegian artists (painters, sculptors, authors, translators, photographers, musicians, composers, actors) have formed professional unions to safeguard their interests. Almost 30 nation-wide artists' organizations are registered to negotiate with the Ministry on matters related to their members' economic interests.
The Norwegian Cultural Fund, which is financed by the state, has as its general purpose the promotion of art and the preservation of culture. In 1994, the Norwegian Cultural Fund received NKR 143 million. A fund for artistic decoration of new state-owned buildings was established in 1977. The fund is financed by reserving an average of 1 per cent of the building costs.
In 1986 a new funding system was introduced in the public sector, which involved funds from the central government being transferred to county authorities and municipalities on the basis of principles different from those which applied earlier. State subsidies to cultural institutions, such as theatres, orchestras, museums, etc., are mainly excluded from this system. The big theatres, art museums, orchestras, etc., based on the recommendations contained in the 1992 White Book, were divided into three categories: national institutions fully maintained by the state; central or modal institutions of supraregional importance subsidised partly by the state and partly by the regions; and local or regional institutions, financed by decentralised bodies.
The purpose of the new funding system is (1) to give greater freedom of action to authorities, and county authorities, amongst other things in order to improve the adjustment of measures to local conditions; (2) to achieve rationalization in the municipal sector and at the central government level.
There exist, also, various collective funds for artists, financed either from levies, or as remunerations to artists for the public use of their works, e.g. in libraries. In the general development plan, cultural affairs are referred to both as an important part of a co-ordinated environment policy and as an object of specific planning.
The Norwegian cultural policy promotes the establishment or simulation of an art market. Although the book trade, distribution and production are private economic undertakings, the state intervenes in the literature market through fixed book prices, guaranteed book purchases and VAT exemption.
Similar objectives are pursued in the visual arts to improve the working conditions and income of artists.
On the basis of proposals by artists' organisations, a committee appointed by the ministry decides on the distribution of funds for the guaranteed minimum income of artists (in 1994 = NKR 57 million for this purpose). Therefore, a professional and generally recognised artist receives the minimum income until his retirement (NKR 120,000 annually).
Musical activities are mainly funded at the local level, while the big, professional symphonic orchestras are financed in a scheme comparable to that of theatre subsidies.
Maximum corporate relief for donations is NKR 10,000 (1,244 ECU) - but only for research and training.
In spite of increasing public subsidies, the cultural sector has developed new and more open attitudes towards alternative ways of financing culture. Private sponsorship for the arts has increased during the eighties.
Legislation exists in the following fields, among others: cinema, cultural heritage including language, public and school libraries, copyright, radio and television, adult education, sports, pools, recreation. Some of the laws in question cover only limited parts of the area.
The concept of cultural conservation includes the conservation and communication of both non-material values (such as language and traditions) and material values (such as objects and buildings). It is financed by the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs (museums, archives, etc.). Otherwise, cultural conservation is an area of cultural policy where private individuals and organizations play an important part (collectors, museum societies, local cultural associations). Legislation in this area is embodied in two acts: the Act of 9 June 1978 and the Act of 9 June 1989 (relating to the obligation to submit generally available documents). The Ministry of the Environment is mainly responsible for permanent cultural monuments, such as ancient settlements, graves, etc., while the Ministry of Cultural Affairs has the responsibility for archives, museums and the conservation of immaterial culture.
In addition, the Norwegian Cultural Council is involved in cultural heritage as are the regional cultural boards too.
Norway has around 525 museums and collections today. The number of visitors to Norwegian museums has been on the increase in the past 20 years. The total number of visitors increased from 2.3 to 3.9 million in the 1970s. This trend continued steadily in the 1980s and is now approaching 6 million. In 1975, a new subsidy scheme was introduced for many semi-public museums in the country. The scheme is based not on any general legislation but on separate agreements between the state and the individual counties and municipalities and consists in an automatic refunding by the state of a percentage of an approved annual operational budget for each individual museum. Thus, the responsibility is shared between the state and the regional authorities. Public subsidies increased from about NKR 15 million in 1975 to NKR 90 million in 1982. Today the scheme supports approximately 300 museums.
The oldest and most comprehensive education in Norway is offered in the field of visual arts. There are two state art academies and three state craft schools with a total of approximately 700 students. Norway has one Music College, with about 80 students. The education of writers is less comprehensive: there is a three-month writing course at one regional college and a number of shorter courses elsewhere. There is no film education in Norway apart from short courses funded by the government.
At present there are 11 institutional theatres, in addition to the Norwegian Opera. Oslo has three permanent theatres, while Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim each have one. All these theatres produce performances on two or three stages. There are also regional theatres in Tromse, Nordland, Míre og Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane, and Telemark counties. The Travelling Theatre and the Norwegian Opera receive their funding exclusively from the central government. The Travelling Theatre is a state institution and all its expenses are covered from the box-office receipts from productions being returned to the Treasury. The Norwegian Opera is a limited company and the state covers approximately 80-90 per cent of its costs.
Public funding of theatres showed a significant increase in line with the general increase in cultural budgets in the 1970s and 1980s. Government allocations for theatre and opera in 1993 amounted to NKR 502 million. Official statistics (1972-1981) shows that the total number of visits to the theatre (opera included) in Norway has been very stable. The figure varies between 1.1 and 1.4 million per year.
An interesting phenomenon concerning the performing arts is the formation of independent groups (theatre and dance). In 1992 there where between 60 and 70 active free professional theatres. The most important source of funds for the free groups has been an allocation from the National Budget, which amounted to just over NKR 11.3 million in 1992. The state also finances a Sami theatre in Kautokeino in Finnmark.
Amateur theatre activities are organised on a regional basis and their organisations receive public subsidies.
Cultural policy in these areas is concerned partly with improving working conditions for artists and partly with improving opportunities for exhibitions. This means making visual (pictorial) arts and crafts available to as many people as possible. Public funding is therefore directed partly towards institutions such as museums and galleries of various types and partly towards artists in the form of guaranteed incomes, fellowships, fees, etc. Approximately 30 per cent of the Norwegian artists are painters and sculptors and 70 per cent are involved in crafts. The guaranteed income scheme is particularly aimed at these groups (see Financing of Cultural activities).
Norway has two national art museums: the National Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The number of visitors to some special museums and art galleries has increased in the last few years. The growth in art exhibitions attendance has been recorded in all socio-economic groups.
Literature and reading have a prominent position in Norwegian cultural life. In 1972 approximately 70 per cent of the population read at least one book during the year, and 20 per cent read more than 20 books. In the 1987 survey, these figures had grown to 80 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively. The proportion of very active readers (who read more than 20 books a year) grew from 17 to 20 per cent. In the literary field there are two particularly important areas of cultural policy. One is Norwegian fiction (including novels, short stories, poetry, drama, essays), where the aim is to improve conditions for writing and producing Norwegian fiction. The other area is the strengthening and financing of national public libraries.
Libraries are typical exponents of fundamental characteristics of Norwegian cultural policy: the centralized vs. the localized, decentralization vs. coordination, reconciliation of conflicting interests, efforts to conquer Norwegian topography and geography, and making the supply available to as many people as possible, regardless of where they live. There are 1,377 libraries in Norway. In spite of this, Norway at present has the lowest number of lendings of library books of all the Nordic countries. The libraries are divided into two main groups according to their purpose: (1) specialist and research libraries, and (2) public libraries (including school libraries).
The Libraries Act of 1985 extended the role of the libraries: they were to be not only institutions for enlightenment and providing access to national and international literature but were also to function as centres of information for the local communities. Today, all counties have county libraries. The county libraries are not responsible for direct loans, but they administer long-distance loans and perform coordinating and advisory functions. The National Library Service is a common body for all specialized and scientific libraries, documentation and information services in the country. The University Library in Oslo also used to function as the National Library. In 1989 a branch of the National Library was established in Mo i Rana in North Norway. NKR 179 million was allocated to libraries and literature from the 1993 cultural budget.
In contrast to the library service, the book trade in Norway is part of the private sector. It consists of approximately 400 independent book stores scattered all over the country, 44 publishers, and a large number of kiosks which also sell literature. There are about 500 literary authors, 2,000 authors of specialist books, and 300 translators. The sale of books per capita is considerably higher in Norway than in any other Nordic country. Although the book trade is private, state cultural policies provide several important framework conditions for the writing, publishing and translating of literature. Firstly, books are exempted from VAT. This exemption is in fact an indirect subsidy to the whole trade, which in 1989 recorded over NKR 500 million in sales. Secondly, the government has approved a trade agreement between the Norwegian publishers and booksellers which stipulates fixed prices for Norwegian books.
The state purchasing scheme for new Norwegian literature was introduced in 1965. It is peculiar to Norway and is particularly directed at expanding the originally limited market for books. The purchasing scheme, as a form of cultural policy subsidy, is a distinctly Norwegian phenomenon. It is neither a subsidy to individual institutions (as in the case of subsidies for dramatic art, which go mainly to the permanent theatres), nor to individual projects of books that have been evaluated in advance (as in the case of film production, where subsidies are awarded for individual films), or to individual artists. The scheme is directed primarily towards the market; it increases the market and extends the economic base for Norwegian literature. In 1992, about 200 titles for adults and 100 titles for children and young people were purchased. In 1992, approximately 45 per cent of the Norwegian Cultural Council's funds (which total NKR 130 million) was spent on the purchasing scheme for new Norwegian literature.
The 1980s were an expansive period for Norwegian music as well. New institutions were established, while existing institutions and activities were improved. During this period, new concert halls of international standard were built, many private educational establishments received public funding, the symphony orchestras were improved, and schemes were introduced for employing District Musicians. Allocations for music from the National Budget showed strong growth. Governmental funding increased from NKR 146 million in 1990 to NKR 217 million in 1993. Official statistics show a growth in the total annual number of visitors to Norwegian symphony orchestra performances over the last 20 years.
Besides professional endeavours, there is an immense variety of amateur groups and orchestras, school orchestras, choirs, jazzbands, brassbands, folkmusic groups, etc., a most viable part of Norwegian cultural life.
Around 200 newspapers are produced in Norway on a regular basis. The newspaper circulation is high, and the total consumption is estimated at 1.64 newspapers per household. An overwhelming majority of Norwegian newspapers are local, and most of them are local monopolies. The only national newspapers are the two tabloids in Oslo, Verdens Gang and Dagbladet, and a handful of special papers.
In 1967, an official committee prepared far-reaching measures in order to maintain a diversified daily press through the existence of national, regional and local newspapers and to ensure free competition between newspapers representing different political views or interests. A strong emphasis was placed on finding neutral, automatic criteria for subsides, so that any possibility of direction on the part of the state could be avoided. Grants to newspapers in an unfavourable market position were among the first measures introduced in 1969. Other measures include grants for distribution, government advertising, and education and research. Press subsidies include Sami newspapers and are administered by the Ministry of Cultural Affaires.
Newspapers are also exempted from the VAT on subscription and single copy sales.
The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) was originally a state-owned company. In 1988 it was turned into a foundation, but this does not imply that the institution is altogether free from outside control. The Storting determines the NRK's income by setting the level of the licence fee and the tax/duty on broadcasting equipment. The NRK now runs two television channels and four radio channels. Most of the educational programmes for children are linked to subjects taught in schools.
In 1988 the Act on Local Broadcasting was passed and local broadcasting was introduced on a permanent basis in Norway. Scandinavian and other satellite television services are available through cable networks and satellite dishes. In Oslo it is possible to receive 72 different television channels.2
The vitality of Norway's media policy was indicated by the plans to establish a privately owned national radio channel financed through advertising. It was done in 1991 when the Parliament voted for a fourth channel run by a commercial company.
Norway's first Cinemas Act was passed in 1913. It established two important principles: all films to be shown publicly need to be approved by a central censorship body, the National Board of Film Censors; furthermore, the showing of films and videos in public is subject to municipal licence. In practice, this has led to a municipal cinema monopoly in most areas. In January 1988, the 1913 Cinemas Act was replaced by a new act relating to films and videograms. According to the new act, everybody engaged in the sale, rental or showing of films and videograms for commercial purposes is required to pay a duty of 2.5 per cent of gross takings to the Norwegian Cinema and Film Foundation. The income from this duty is used for various purposes within the film and video sector.
The average annual Norwegian film production is normally 7-9 feature films. Most Norwegian films are produced with governmental support, granted either by the Norwegian Film Institute or by Norway's largest production company - Norsk Film A.S. Norway also has a joint Cinema and Television Production Fund which grants financial support to full-length films.
All Norwegian full-length films receive a governmental subsidy, corresponding to 55 per cent of the gross box-office receipts. In the case of a film designated as suitable for children under 10 years, the subsidy is 100 per cent.
In recent years video has become extremely widespread in Norway. In 1992 there were about 1,060,000 videoplayers and 10,000 so-called movieboxes for rent. This means that approximately 60 per cent of the population had access to video-playing equipment then. The sales and rental of video films are regulated by a system of limited prior control in conjunction with a registration and licensing system pursuant to the new act relating to films and videograms.
The development of Norway as a cultural nation and multi-cultural society depends on the preservation of the cultural heritage, which applies to both physical cultural monuments and non-material cultural values. The conditions of consumption, participation and experience in the cultural area have undergone considerable changes. Between 1972 and 1987, the proportion of the population with "higher education" backgrounds (i.e., "cultural capital") actually doubled. It may therefore be maintained that the opportunities for production have not increased proportionably with the opportunities for distribution and consumption. There is a considerable economic imbalance between production on the one hand and distribution and consumption on the other. Public expenditure for cultural purposes increased rapidly during the "golden age" of the 1970s. In the period 1973-1979 the amount spent increased 100 per cent in real terms (at constant prices). During the 1980s expenditure for cultural purposes continued to grow, although not at the same rapid pace. It grew 13 per cent in real terms in the period 1980-1985.
Another important trend in cultural life today is a stronger and more far-reaching influence from other countries and cultures, owing to better communications, increased travel and the large number of television programmes from satellites and foreign videograms. All this means that Norway faces great challenges in the field of culture, especially with regard to the balance between production and consumption, and between the Norwegian and the foreign components.
International cultural cooperation forms an integral part of the Norwegian cultural policy. The strengthening of international understanding is one of the objectives of Norway's participation in international cultural cooperation. The presentation of Norwegian culture abroad and of foreign cultural production in Norway are two other important aims.
Norway participates in international cultural cooperation either through bilateral and multilateral agreements or through participation in international organizations and conferences.
Norway has bilateral cultural cooperation with a number of countries in different parts of the world. Bilateral cultural agreements have been signed with 25 countries in Europe, in addition to Israel, Egypt, India, and China. Under these bilateral programmes there are a number of annual exchanges of artists and exhibitions. A new strategy has been developed for bilateral cultural cooperation with Third World countries. The Directorate for Development Cooperation (NORAD) is responsible for cultural exchanges with these countries.
Multilateral cooperation in the cultural field includes participation in the activities of international organizations such as the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO.
The Nordic Council of Ministers constitutes the main framework for Norwegian cultural cooperation with the other Nordic countries. This includes cooperation and coordination in a number of fields, as well as the financing of joint Nordic projects and permanent institutions. Nordic cultural cooperation includes regular contacts between Nordic politicians (through the Nordic Council) and civil servants from these countries.
Norway is actively involved in European cultural cooperation within the Council of Europe. This implies participation in the work of different steering committees and subcommittees in the field.
High priority is given to Norway's participation in the activities of UNESCO. As a member of UNESCO's Executive Board, Norway has played an active part in the educational, scientific and cultural cooperation of the Organization. Norwegian priorities within UNESCO are basic education for all, environmental issues, cultural heritage and cultural identities, as well as the cultural dimension of development.
Norway also participates in the promotion of the objectives of the United Nations Decade for Cultural Development through its national committee for World Decade for Cultural Development. On the initiative of Norway and the other Nordic countries, a World Commission on Culture and Development has been established under the joint auspices of UNESCO and the United Nations. Norway will follow this work closely through the Norwegian Commission for UNESCO.
Andersen, Arthur. Business Support for the Arts in Europe, London: CEREC, 1992, pp.42-43.
Arsmelding. <s.l.> Norsk Kulturrad, 1989.
Bodo, Carla & Giovanna, Parisi. The Integration of Cultural Development Planning into the Global Planning Framework - NORWAY, CC/CD/CP/87/06. Paris, UNESCO, 1987.
Cultural Role of the Audio-Visual Media and Cultural Industries in Norway, see: UNESCO - Questionnaire on the State and Trends of Cultural Policies in Member States, 1989.
Cultural Policy and Cultural Administration in Europe: 42 outlines. Vienna, Österreichische Kulturdokumentation, Internationales Archiv für Kulturanalysen, 1996, pp. 131-137.
Dupin, Xavier & François, Rouet. Public Authority Measures Affecting the Culture Industries in Europe, 1988-1989. Paris, Ministere Français de la Culture, 1989, pp. 85-94.
Handbook of Cultural Affairs in Europe. Baden-Baden, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1995, pp. 427-441.
Kultur-Statistikk 1988. Oslo- Kongsvinger, Statistisk Sentralbyra, 1989.
Porna, Ismo. La formation des administrateurs des services culturels dans les pays Nordiques et notamment en Finlande, CLT/CD/CP-83/3, Helsinki, avril 1983.
Rosenlund, Lennart. The Situation in Norway, in: Participation in Cultural Life in Europe. Papers presented to the European Round Table on Cultural Research, Moscow, April 1991. Zentrum für Kulturforschung in cooperation with C.I.R.C.L.E., ARCult, Bonn 1991, pp. 215-232.
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Situation and Trends in Cultural Policies in Member States of Europe: Norway, World Conference on Cultural Policies, Mexico-City, 26 July - 6 August 1982. Paris, UNESCO, 1982, pp. 85-88.
St. meld. nr. 13 (1987-88), Om Norges offisielle Kultursamarbeid med Utlandet;
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10. FOOTNOTES* This monograph is based on a selection of data from the Cultural Policies Data Bank and on documents collected by the Documentation Centre for Cultural Development and Cooperation, Culturelink. The original draft, written by Zarko Paic, has been revised by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Cultural Affairs. It has also been revised by Daniela Angelina Jelincic in 1997.
1. One of the main aims of the Labour Party Government's long-term programme for the 1990s was a more varied, free society. Cultural policy was a central issue in this respect; all persons, regardless of where they live, their ethnic origins or their personal abilities, should have rich opportunities of experiencing art and participating in all cultural activities and should have the opportunity of expressing themselves in cultural terms according to their own abilities and personal situation. Cultural participation and experience were regarded as a prerequisite for a rich, full life, and cultural policy was important for the quality of life.