Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 11:16
Countr(y/ies): Norway
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Norway/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

In 1814 Norway gained freedom from Denmark and established its Constitution and founded the national assembly - the Storting. The same year, Sweden invaded Norway and the Norwegians were forced to accept a peace treaty which created a union with Sweden under the Swedish king. Norway kept its new constitution (with some amendments) and a Norwegian parliament. The union was dissolved in 1905 when Norway became an independent country.Oslo Port

Although some schemes for public support of cultural and artistic activities and institutions were established in the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century (i.e. artists scholarships, public support for libraries, art education, museums and theatres), cultural policy has only become a distinct policy domain in Norway from the Second World War and after. From the 1930s onwards, the welfare ideology had gradually gained a foothold as the main rationale for the Norwegian policy system in general, and was also applied to the cultural domain. The welfare model was not solely due to financial limitations before the end of the war period. During the war, the German occupants and the Nasjonal Samling, a national socialistic party in power from 1940 to 1945, established the Ministry of Cultural and Public Educational Affairs, which was responsible for a distinct part of the state budget. The war time cultural policy was formulated by the controlling regime as a tool for the political propaganda of the German occupants. In the post-war period, considerable emphasis was laid on the democratisation of culture. Arts and culture were then considered both as an important measure for the welfare of the whole population and also as a useful tool for public education. In order to democratise culture, the state established important arts institutions with a nationwide function, one for theatre - The Norwegian National Touring Theatre - in 1949, one for visual art - National Touring Exhibitions - in 1953 and one for music - Rikskonsertene / The Norwegian Consert Institute - 1958. In addition, the National Opera was established in 1957.

In the period from the pre-war years to the early 1960s, the number of publications within Norwegian fiction fell substantially, and this situation contributed to the foundation of the Arts Council Norway in 1965. In order to defend the Norwegian culture and language, one of the main responsibilities of the Council was to administer a scheme for purchasing new Norwegian publications. Although the state gave a small number of artist's stipends from the 1830s, a significant range of support schemes for artists was only introduced during the 1960s.

During the 1970s major efforts were made to decentralise the cultural policy and administration system in Norway. Cultural affairs committees were established in most municipalities, and the municipal authorities gradually appointed directors and secretaries of cultural affairs. A similar system was developed at the county level and new grant schemes were introduced. In this way, substantial responsibilities were decentralised in order to bring decision-making closer to the general population. Closely linked to this reform was a redefinition of culture, which was also taking place in other countries. The concept of culture was extended in order to include the cultural interests of different parts of the population. This process incorporated a renewed interest for amateur cultural activities. In addition, sport was included in the concept of culture. The more traditional elements of Norwegian cultural life also received more financial support from the public authorities during the 1970s. A new Libraries Act was adopted in 1971, a new grant scheme for institutional theatres was established in 1972 and a new, decentralised grant scheme for museums was introduced in 1975. As the result of a White Paper presented to the Storting in 1978, artists were granted the right to negotiate with the central government and improved schemes were developed in this field. The most important element of this arrangement was the guaranteed income scheme, which currently provides for more than 500 artists, the majority of whom are visual artists and crafts people.

While the public culture budgets had expanded considerably during the post war period, the stagnation of economic development resulted in more focus being placed on efficiency and retrenchment during the 1980s and 1990s. However, cultural expenses, not least at the municipality level, increased significantly in the 1980s. A new government (2005) has proclaimed that one of their most important ambitions is to increase the share of the state budget allocated to culture from 0.8% to 1% during the next ten years. However, experts in the cultural field have questioned the accuracy of the figures calculated to plan for this increase.

For a long period cultural policy issues on the state level were administered by the Ministry of Church and Education Affairs. However, in 1982 a Ministry of Cultural and Scientific Affairs was established. The Ministry changed its name to the Ministry of Church and Cultural Affairs in 1990. From 1991 until 2001, Norway had a Ministry of Cultural Affairs that was responsible for culture, media and sport. From 2002, church affairs were once again merged with cultural affairs. The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs now also incorporates sport and media issues.

Norway/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram) 

Norway/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

Similar to the other Nordic countries, the Norwegian cultural policy is both centralised and decentralised. On the one hand, the basis for cultural policy is mostly provided by the state. However, considerable responsibilities for the shaping and implementation of cultural policy are delegated to local and regional authorities. The national and municipal levels are the most important with respect to cultural expenditures, the regional level playing only a modest role.

At the state level, the decision-making apparatus is relatively complex. Considerable authority is centred in the political and administrative body of the Parliament, the Government and the Ministries. Formally, the main framework of cultural policy is determined by the Storting (the parliament). The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs prepares documents for the Storting. Both legal, financial, organisational and information means are applied in order to achieve political goals. However, the state budget is the most important instrument, with the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs holding responsibility for a total budget of approximately NOK 6.5 billion (2007). The Ministry also administers gaming profits from Norsk Tipping AS, which are allocated for cultural and sports purposes. The Ministry also implements political resolutions passed by the Storting and supervises the activities of subordinate enterprises; public organisations in the culture field and independent institutions receiving public grants.

Other Ministries concerned with cultural affairs are the Ministry of the Environment which is responsible for cultural heritage (except museums, archives and libraries) and cultural environments. The Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for education, including artists' education and music and culture schools for children. The culture schools offer primarily school age children courses in music, visual art, dance and theatre. The Ministry of Education and Research is also responsible for academic libraries and for university museums.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been given responsibility for the presentation of Norwegian arts and culture abroad, including exchange projects with developing countries. Other Ministries are also relevant to cultural policy, but play a more modest role. The Ministry of Finance plays a coordinating role in the budgetary process. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development directs attention to the role of culture in regional development. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has responsibility for governing of all types of business in Norway, including a role in the development of the culture industries. The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform develops government strategies on information technology and competition policy.

Considerable authority is also delegated to arms length institutions and expert bodies. Arts Council Norway is formally administered and financed by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, but it retains a largely independent position and is therefore characterised as an arms length institution. Each year the Storting provides an overall allocation to the Cultural Fund which is administered by Arts Council Norway as one of its principal tasks. In addition, the Arts Council acts in an advisory capacity to the central government and public sector on cultural affairs and organises experimental cultural activities in areas which the Council considers to be of particular interest.

The Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority was established in 2003 as a strategic expert body for the development of the three sectors involved. The principal tasks of the Authority are to promote the coordination, effectiveness and strengths of the archive, library and museum field. Similar to Arts Council Norway, the Authority administers a budget both for its own activities and also for projects implemented by other actors in the field. In addition, the Authority serves in an advisory capacity to the Ministry.

The Norwegian Film Fund is responsible for administering all national support for film production in Norway. According to its statutes, the Film Fund shall also advise the Ministry for Cultural and Church Affairs on film policy.

Other expert bodies, such as The Norwegian Language Council, The National Council for Folk Costume, The Norwegian Institute of Local History, Norwegian Film Development, The National Foundation for Art in Public Buildings, Fond for Lyd og Bilde and government grants and guaranteed income for artists hold administrative, advisory, coordinative and development responsibilities in their own fields.

National institutions such as the National Archive Service of Norway, the National Library of Norway, Norwegian Film Institute, Museum of Archaeology - Stavanger, the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille, The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, the Norwegian National Touring Theatre and The Norwegian Concert Institute (Rikskonsertene) are responsible for the administration of collections and the production of cultural facilities. In contrast to the other institutions mentioned, The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design is organised as a foundation outside the public administrative system.

All counties and almost all municipalities established cultural boards and administrations during the 1970s. These are independent regional and local cultural administrations responsible to the county and municipal councils. In the 1990s a general reorganisation process was started at the local political and administrative level. A number of independent cultural administrations disappeared, or became integrated in other areas of municipal activity, for instance education and trade and industry. The consequences of this trend are not clear, and it has not been a subject for deliberation since the 1990s. The responsibilities of local and regional authorities include self-defined initiatives and subsidies for regional cultural activities and subsidies for regional institutions, which are partly state-funded and regulated by formal agreements on shared responsibility.

Norway/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

Co-operation and co-ordination between different ministries are dealt with according to the character of the actual matters and do not follow a permanent structure.

Norway/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

The responsibility for international cultural cooperation is divided between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the presentation of Norwegian arts and culture abroad, including exchange projects with developing countries, in co-operation with cultural institutions funded by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs.

The Norwegian Foreign Service missions play a key role in establishing and administering cultural cooperation with other countries.

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), a directorate under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is also involved in international cultural projects and provides assistance for culture, media and information activities.

The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs is responsible for multilateral cultural cooperation as well as for the importation of culture from abroad.

Norway/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Foreign Service, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs are responsible for cultural co-operation with other countries.

State-funded institutions and professional organisations aim in particular to stimulate artistic exchange and promote Norwegian artists and works of art, not least through the administration of specific grant schemes. The following organisations administer support programmes on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Norway/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Multilateral cooperation in the cultural field includes Norwegian participation in the activities of international organisations such as:

The Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers

The Nordic Council was formed in 1952 and is the forum for Nordic parliamentary co-operation. Since then cultural co-operation has been the core component of intra-Nordic co-operation. The Nordic Council of Ministers, formed in 1971, is the forum for Nordic governmental co-operation. Culture is defined as one of the major areas for co-operation. Nordic Culture Point is the new contact point for Nordic cultural co-operation. The institution was established in 2007 at Sveaborg in Helsinki, under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Nordic Culture Point will primarily take responsibility for providing information and consultancy to professionals within the field of culture, act as a service function and serve as a secretariat for the framework programmes of the Nordic Ministries of Culture, as well as co-ordinate the activities of the Nordic cultural forums. Nordic Culture Point also aims to profile Nordic cultural co-operation within and outside the Nordic region.

In order to give the culture and media sector in the Nordic region more opportunities to work together, the Ministries of Culture have set up three new programmes:

European Union

Although not a member of the EU, Norway is closely associated with the European Union through the Agreement on the European Economic Area, which also encompasses cultural cooperation. Norway takes part in relevant programmes such as:

Council of Europe

Norway is one of the ten countries which established the Council of Europe in 1949 and has been a member of the European Cultural Convention - the basic document which regulates the cultural cooperation between the member states - since 1956. Norway takes part in the cultural cooperation of the Council of Europe in the Steering Committee for Culture.


Norway is a member of UNESCO and has participated in the international work for the protection and promotion of cultural diversity, including the Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in October 2005. Norway ratified the Convention in January 2007. At the same time, Norway also ratified another UNESCO Convention - the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP)

Norway is a member of INCP since 1999 and has been active in the working group on Cultural diversity and Globalisation which elaborated the framework and scope of a cultural diversity instrument, which has been developed and is now carried by UNESCO.

Norway/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

A number of art institutions, cultural organisations and festivals habitually engage in international co-operation through co-productions or by providing a platform for international arts events. In spring 2007, the Norwegian National Opera reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London on a co-production of Giuseppe Verdi's "Don Carlos". The intention is to formalise the co-operation on a permanent basis. BIT Teatergarasjen (BIT) is another example. BIT co-produces and presents international and Norwegian contemporary art, theatre and dance, with specific emphasis on projects that stimulate international co-production and co-operation between different fields of art. BIT cooperates with theatres and producers in several European countries.

Norway/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

Programmes to support trans-national intercultural dialogue are primarily the responsibility of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD). MFA and NORAD support projects that promote intercultural dialogue and co-operation.

Rikskonsertene (The Norwegian Concert Institute), which is a governmental dissemination institution on music, is one of the most experienced Norwegian institutions on international co-operation in the field of culture. Rikskonsertene are engaged in a range of diverse international music projects, mainly in close co-operation with MFA and NORAD. In addition to being an advisor for MFA and NORAD in musical matters, Rikskonsertene operate specific programmes and projects abroad, such as exchange programmes for musical artists and long term development programmes. Priority is given to initiatives contributing to cultural diversity. Rikskonsertene is linked to a number of international organisations and networks, such as: the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA); European Forum of World Music Festivals (EFWMF), International Society for Music Education (ISME); Europe Jazz Network (EJN) and Nordic Network for School Concerts (NNS).

One example of a project that is carried out with governmental support is a project between Fredrikstad Culture School and Zimbabwe Association of Music Educators. This is a music education project operating on three levels: on an institutional level, where the focus is on stimulating and emphasising the role of culture and music in schools; on an individual level, where pupils from the schools involved are recruited for group performances and to take part in both countries; and finally on an educational level, involving workshops for teachers and educationalists from participating institutions in Norway and within the Zimbabwe Association of Music Educators.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Norway/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

Information is currently not available.

Norway/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

The Norwegian cultural policy model cannot be characterised as an archetype of any of the classical cultural policy models, such as the arms-length model, the interventionist model, the entrepreneurship model or the decentralised model. Instead, it contains elements of all of the models, excluding the entrepreneurship model. In the Norwegian model the public authorities have played a considerable role in the culture sector, not least by giving financial support to a range of cultural and artistic activities. The relationship between the public authorities and the culture sector can be characterised by the terms of corporatism on the one hand and the arms-length principle on the other. While artists' organisations have played a crucial role in the administration of some public support schemes for artists, the work of the Arts Council is based on a relatively autonomous position vis-ā-vis both the government and the field of art. However, the corporate element of the Norwegian cultural policy model seems to have declined during the last two decades although it is more significant in comparison with many other countries.

Norway/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

The latest white paper on culture (2003) maintains that the meaning of "culture" has changed historically due to the purpose and context of its use. The white paper placed emphasis on the need for a concept of culture to be sufficiently open to the changes of society, especially those taking place in the area of arts and culture. While so far the understanding of "culture" within cultural policy has been closely linked to nation building and welfare policy, the white paper maintains that globalisation and individualisation require a concept of culture that can cope with the diversity and complexity of contemporary culture. Thus, the paper underlines that culture should mainly be understood in terms of processes rather than as an isolated system. It also mentions that some cultural activities, previously considered to be outside of the area of governmental responsibility have been included in the cultural policy system during the last ten years. Support schemes for jazz, rock music and similar music forms, for instance, have been established. Even if the expanded concept of "culture" is not mentioned explicitly, it is central to the operational level of cultural policy.

Norway/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

The main objectives of the Norwegian cultural policy are to promote:

The objectives of Norwegian cultural policy have a generally stable character and there are few controversies about these objectives in public debates.

Norway/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

The present government has proclaimed that one of its most important ambitions is to increase the share of the state budget allocated to culture from 0.8% to 1% by 2014. In this respect, the state culture budget has expanded in the three last years. In particular, the film industry, rock music and opera and dance have been prioritised in recent budgets. The expansion of the budget is not contested in public debate. At the Storting, it is only the Progressive Party that has markedly protested against the budget expansion.

Norway/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

In Norway the Sāmi are recognised as an indigenous people and Jews, Kvens (people of Finnish descent living in the North), Roma (Gypsies), the Romani People and Skogfins (people of Finnish descent living in the south-eastern part of the country) are recognised as national minorities. The overall aim of the Norwegian government regarding both the Sāmi and the national minorities is to develop and complete a policy in accordance with the international duties of Norway and the duties found in the Norwegian laws and existing political resolutions.

The majority of the Sāmi people (about two thirds, 40 000 people) live in Norway. The basis of the Norwegian government's Sāmi policy is found in the Constitution and the Act on the Sāmi People. In addition, Norway has ratified the Convention of the ILO. The overall aim of the Norwegian government's Sāmi policy is to facilitate the Sāmi people to safeguard and develop their own language, culture and social life. The Sāmi people have their own parliament - Sāmediggi - which has responsibilities for Sāmi issues. Sāmediggi is an independent institution elected by the Sāmi electorate. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) has a special department - Sāmi Radio - that produces and broadcasts programmes in Sāmi on radio and television. Some of the municipalities in the northern part of the country are defined as an administrative area for the Sāmi language.

In an educational context, it is maintained that the culture and traditions of the Sāmi community are a part of the common Norwegian and Nordic culture and are included in both the national curriculum and the special Sāmi curriculum. In the areas defined as Sāmi districts and according to specific criteria elsewhere in Norway, education is provided in accordance with the special Sāmi curriculum. For Sāmi pupils, this education is intended to build a sense of security in relation to the pupils' own culture and to develop Sāmi language and identity, as well as equipping Sāmi pupils to take an active part in the community and enabling them to acquire education at all levels. State support is provided for the development of textbooks written in the Sāmi language.

To safeguard the rights of the cultural minorities, Norway has ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe. In the last white paper on cultural minorities (2000), the government clarified that it will work for a society that facilitates cultural minorities to express, maintain and develop their identity, both in their own minority group and when interacting with the rest of society. While earlier assimilation policy has led to the encroachment of cultural minorities, not least the Romanis, the government apologised in the white paper for these injustices. The governmental initiatives for national minorities has focused on organisational development, economic support for NGOs representing national minorities and economic support for establishing and developing centres for national minorities. Newspapers and periodicals in Sāmi and other minority languages receive some economic support from the government through various schemes.

Norway/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

The official languages of Norway are Norwegian with two forms, Bokmål and Nynorsk, and Sāmi. The two forms of Norwegian are products of two different policies in the process of establishing a language that could support an independent Norwegian nation after the secession from Denmark in 1814. Bokmål, on the one hand, developed by using the Danish written language as a basis and adapting it for Norway according to the norms of urban upper-class speech. Nynorsk, on the other hand, developed on the basis of the comparative study of Norwegian dialects of the (self-taught) linguist Ivar Aasen (1813-1896). Nynorsk received official recognition through a parliamentary resolution in 1885.

There are 433 municipalities in Norway (2005). 115 of these have chosen Nynorsk as their official language and approximately 160 municipalities have opted for Bokmål, while the rest are "neutral". Neutrality, however, usually means that the majority form, Bokmål, is the most dominant variety. The 115 Nynorsk speaking municipalities include approximately 12% of the population.

In secondary schools (or rather, from the eighth level of primary school) both forms of Norwegian are compulsory for all pupils - one of them as a main language, the other as a "second language", according to the personal choice of each student. Learning the compulsory secondary language is often met with resistance and is discussed continually. Students with a foreign-language background (including Sāmi) may choose their own language as the main or second language alongside one of the Norwegian forms.

The main goal of the language policy is to protect and strengthen the two forms of the Norwegian language so that Bokmål and Nynorsk can survive as equally important languages that are used in all parts of social life and in the new information society. Another goal is to support and strengthen the position of Nynorsk, both as a living language and as an official written language on par with Bokmål.

More than 95 % of the Norwegian population use one of the Norwegian forms as their primary language. Sāmi is the most important minority language. Responsibility for the Sāmi language is seen as an important part of Norwegian cultural policy. Some operational tasks are allocated to the Sāmi parliament (Sametinget / Sāmidiggi), including a Sāmi language council. The Act on Sāmi requires that public information that is particularly relevant to the Sāmi people is translated into Sāmi (i.e. laws and regulations, promulgations and forms).

Norway has signed the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, and has accepted certain obligations in respect of the minority languages in Norway. The Charter covers the languages - Kvensk, Romanes and Romani. After a request from the European Council, Norway clarified the status of Kvensk in 2005. Kvensk is now recognised as a language in its own right and not as a dialect of Finnish.

The plural language situation in Norway is manifested in the Act on Place Names. The Act provides rules for the use of multilingual place names in the multilingual parts of the country. Place names in the areas where Sāmi and Kvensk are spoken must generally be used by public authorities on maps, signposts, in registers etc. Porsanger, for example, is a municipality in the northern part of Norway which has three official names, Porsanger (Norwegian), Porsángu (Sāmi) and Porsanki (Kvensk).

The increase in immigration has led to a growth in the number of pupils who speak minority languages. There is broad political consensus that schools should cater for the needs of these minorities to enable them to pursue an education and a career. Under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic collaboration has been established on the education of pupils who speak minority languages.

Norway/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

In 2006, the Norwegian Parliament (The Storting) adopted a resolution to celebrate 2008 as the Norwegian Year of Cultural Diversity, aiming to transform the understanding of the dynamics of cultural life in Norway on a long-term basis. The major idea is to gain a greater sense of respect for and knowledge of cultural diversity throughout Norwegian society by pairing established mainstream institutions with representatives from the independent minority groups. For this purpose, arts and culture are credited with a unique potential to create dialogue and contribute to the understanding of complex questions in a society. The main focus in 2008 will be to highlight ethnic and cultural diversity. Other important areas of commitment include dialogue, diversity and multiculturalism, including the religious aspect. With a view to establishing a website presenting the Norwegian Year of Cultural Diversity, cultural authorities, municipalities, county councils, theatres, museums, libraries, other cultural institutions, foundations, groups, companies etc. have been asked to submit information about their concrete activities within the field of cultural diversity, and their plans to create such activities. In 2008, a variety of events will take place throughout the country.

One example of good practice in the field of intercultural dialogue is Nordic Black Express (NBX) which is a developing project in the art of theatre, focusing mainly on acting. The participants are trans-cultural young artists, from 18 to 26 years old. According to the aim of the project, the majority of students or their parents have a background from outside the Western hemisphere. The aim is to strengthen and educate these actors for the theatre, film and media sectors in Norway. The project works to develop a collective of actors, directors, journalists and screenwriters that reflect the global and "transcultural" plurality and reality of the population today. NBX functions as a meeting point where participants of unique cultural and philosophical background work together and share experiences. The project also aims to develop a certain transcultural expression for the stage if this is to be found. NBX was established on the basis of a growing consciousness that the students in the traditional education system of art did not reflect the global plurality of the population. There are very few actors of foreign background in theatre, film and media in Norway.

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Norway/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

To democratise culture has been a central aim of Norwegian cultural policy as long as the public authorities have had an active cultural policy. The ambition has been to ensure that the socio-economic background or geographical place of residence is no obstacle to participate in cultural activities. Similar to many other countries, the strategy for culture and social cohesion in Norway changed from "democratisation of culture" to "cultural democracy" during the 1970s. Today, it is more accurate to describe the strategy as a combination of the two. During the last years, cultural diversity has been given more attention in the cultural policy in Norway. Connected with the Norwegian Year of Cultural Diversity in 2008, the present Minister of Culture has proclaimed that cultural institutions with permanent governmental funding will be evaluated with regard to the extent to which they initiate and accomplish measures that aims to promote cultural diversity.

Norway/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

There are three overall aims of media policy in Norway; firstly, to safeguard freedom of speech; secondly, to safeguard cultural diversity and that a media offer is given in Norwegian, and thirdly, to protect children against damaging media content.

There are about 200 newspapers in Norway. There is broad political agreement in Norway that a diversified press is a democratic asset. In the 1950s the rising costs of newspaper production led to the demise of many newspapers. In 1966 the press organisations appealed to the authorities for economic support in order to be able to maintain a wide variety of newspapers, and thus to ensure the democratic exchange of opinions. Three years later a state subsidy scheme was established for the daily newspapers. The subsidies amount to between two and three percent of the total annual turnover of the press. Moreover, subsidies are directed specifically towards newspapers which are in difficult market positions. In order to be eligible for support, the newspaper must have a general news profile and an editor who adheres to the Editor's Code, set up by the Editors' Association and the Publishers' Association. This code gives certain guarantees for the independence of the editors in relation to the owners. In addition to the general subsidies, special support is awarded to newspapers published for the Sāmi people and other newspapers published in the far north of Norway. Support is also given to political party publications. However, it has been argued that the most important subsidy is the exemption of the newspapers from the Value Added Tax system.

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) was established by the parliament in 1933, replacing four existing private radio companies. The Corporation was a state monopoly, financed by public licence fees. The NRK television channel was officially inaugurated in 1960, after a few years of test transmissions. In 1996 NRK became a joint stock company with the state as the sole owner. Advertising is still prohibited in the NRK, but a limited number of sponsored programmes have been allowed - though exactly what is to be regarded as sponsorship is currently under debate. Parties other than NRK must hold a licence in order to engage in broadcasting.

Until the beginning of the 1980s media policy was largely concerned with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. However, during the 1980s, media policy was liberalised and the way was paved for private broadcasting financed by advertising. The broadcasting of satellite television through the cable network led to a greater need for regulation and administration. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs issues licences for national and local broadcasting. In 1991 the Ministry established a department of Media Policy and Copyright to be responsible for broadcasting legislation, copyright issues, press subsidies and films. Today, several administrative responsibilities in the media sector are delegated to the Norwegian Media Authority.

The "public service" ideology has been central to media policy in Norway. The public service duties of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation are manifested in its statutes. The licences granted to the television channel TV 2 and the radio channel P4 in the early 1990s and the radio channel Kanal 24 in 2004, however, established channels with dual objectives. As privately owned entities they were to generate the greatest possible profits for their owners, while the frameworks of the licences imposed mandatory public service broadcasting obligations on them. The licence, for example, specified that TV 2 must have at least one news programme per day and that at least 50 % of the programmes were to be produced in the Norwegian language. In order to clarify the dilemmas related to the licences and to evaluate whether the licensed channels, in addition to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, comply with the obligations connected to the licenses, the Public Service Broadcast Board was appointed. In 2004, compliance of the public service duties of the privately owned media channels attracted particular political attention and public debate due to the allocation of the license to Kanal 24, which had been held for the previous ten years by another company, P4. The reason for the removal of the license from P4 seemed to be that the Minister of Culture was not satisfied with P4's compliance with their obligations in their first license period. Shortly after the allocation of the license to Kanal 24, however, a new license was established and assigned to P4.

There are no general subsidy schemes for the electronic media. However, a fund has been established to encourage the co-production of audio-visual works and similar projects by film and television companies. The fund allocates support for local radio stations and for educational measures for employees of local radio and television stations.

Norway/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

It is seen as one of the government's responsibilities to ensure that, in a small country like Norway, there should be a range of films and other audio-visual products that reflect its history, culture and language. There is also a need for quality products to provide an alternative to violent computer games that are currently available on the market. The latest white paper on culture lists the main priority as the provision of a good, diversified supply of Norwegian audio-visual media. In order to achieve this, the white paper states that it is necessary to provide comprehensive state support for films and other audio-visual media. Furthermore, it underlines the importance of ensuring that children have access to high quality audio-visual products, especially computer games.

The film industry is currently a priority sector for cultural policy in Norway. The scope of the support schemes established for this sector has increased in the annual state budget for 2005. The purpose of the support schemes for film is to secure a qualitative and diverse supply of Norwegian audiovisual products. The Film Fund, which is charged with administering all national support for film production in Norway, operates eight different schemes, for example support for production of feature-length films, short films, minority co-productions, television series and interactive productions. The Film Fund also administers development support for film production companies. In addition, the Film Fund administers support for films based on commercial criteria and a debated scheme of Box-Office Bonuses. The latter scheme allows for automatic support in proportion to ticket sales. The Box-Office Bonuses are awarded automatically to any film which is distributed theatrically in Norway, currently standing at 55% of ticket revenue until the ceiling amount is reached (100% for children's films). The ceiling on Box-Office Bonuses is calculated in relation to the producer's investment and risk. While this scheme has enhanced the income potential for certain film makers, the scheme has also been criticised for promoting more commercial and conformist film production at the expense of experimental films.

The main categories of instruments in the literature sector are exemption from VAT, purchasing schemes and a library network. During the last years there have been public debates about a sector agreement for the book trade between the Norwegian Booksellers' Association and the Norwegian Publishers Association which means that there are fixed prices on books in Norway. The agreement relies on exemption from the competition rules which the authorities have approved. One of the reasons for such an exemption is that the agreement has been perceived as important in order to ensure a decentralised network of bookstores throughout the country as the most important channel for disseminating Norwegian literature. Until 2005, one of the most important provisions of the agreement is related to the sole right of bookstores to sell books to primary, lower secondary and upper secondary school pupils, and the rule whereby the price of books must be fixed in the year of publication and the following year.

While the competition authorities for the last two decades have wanted to remove or radically modify the "book agreement", the publishing and bookseller sector have wanted to prolong the agreement in its original form. In 2005 a new agreement with some modifications came into operation. The new agreement also relies on exemptions from the competition rules, but the element of free competition is emphasised stronger than previously. Among other things this means that the booksellers sector no longer has the monopoly on selling schoolbooks.

Norway/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

There is no good estimate of how many people are working in the cultural sector in Norway. The artistic population in Norway has grown considerably during the last decades, although available statistics concerning this increase are somewhat inconsistent and insufficient. The membership of the artists unions, however, grew considerably during the 1980s and 1990s. An estimate made by Institute for Social Research indicates that from 1979/80 to 1994 the number of professional artists increased by 30-40 %. In addition, the number of newly-established firms registered in the category "cultural service" - with "self-employed artists" as the dominant subcategory - has increased more than in any other trade in recent years. The number of students who have completed a formal education in the arts (at colleges both in Norway and abroad) has also grown considerably during the last decades. The number of Norwegian art students studying abroad seems to have increased four-fold from 1986-87 to 1998-99, although this estimate is a little uncertain because the categories of available statistics have changed during this period.

While the number of artists has increased radically, the market for their products and services has not increased proportionately. Thus, there is a considerable surplus of workers in the cultural sector in Norway. Even if the scope of artists' policy schemes has increased in real terms, the increase has not been so great that it has been able to meet the rise in the number of artists. There has been a certain re-distribution of funds from guaranteed incomes to work stipends.

The last estimates on the income levels of artists are from 1994 and are produced by Institute for Social Research. They indicate that there are considerable variations between categories of artists with regard to income. While illustrators, graphic designers, translators and composers of popular music were among those with the highest income level, visual artists, crafts people, dancers and choreographers were among those with the lowest income level. Compared to the salary level of other sectors, artists earn considerably less than other professionals such as doctors and lawyers. Instead, the typical income level of artists is parallel to that of the lowest level of industrial workers. Some categories of artists earn much less, others a lot more.

Norway/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

Strategies to promote the implementation of new technologies in the field of art and cultural policy range from the general policies of utilising the potential of information technologies in public administration to specific support schemes for artistic work. From 1998-2000, Arts Council Norway had an experimental scheme giving support to artistic projects implementing new technologies. From 2001, money specified for the same purpose is allocated through the ordinary support schemes on theatre / dance and visual art of the Arts Council.

In the area of heritage policies, a five year project aimed at establishing a digital library was started 2003. Its vision is to give the public easy access to information and knowledge sources in libraries, archives and museums.

Norway/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

There have been some major reforms in the field of cultural heritage during the last years. Several merger processes and co-ordination initiatives have taken place. In 2003, the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority was established following a merger of the Norwegian Directorate for Public Libraries, the Norwegian Museum Authority and the National Office for Research Documentation, Academic and Special Libraries. Public authorities maintain that archives, libraries and museums (ALM) play an important role in democracy and in promoting social inclusion because they select, preserve and facilitate the use of various sources of knowledge and information. The merger has partly been legitimated by the fact that the majority of such sources extends across all of the ALM institutions and includes art, sound, photography, film, archival material and literature. Furthermore, it is underlined that the common interests of the three constituent sectors have been strengthened by the use of information and communication technology (ICT), and that ICT provides simplified access to different types of sources, also across the traditional sector boundaries.

A museum reform, which aims to reduce the number of museum units at the regional level and to strengthen the existing units professionally and administratively, has also led to public debate. The process, often termed "consolidation", has focused on mergers between museums in the same regions and on the establishment of national networks. While this process has been substantiated by the importance of professionally and administratively strong museum units, critics have warned that this might result in isomorphism and the loss of local autonomy in the museum sector. Another question of current interest concerning the museum sector is whether a system of free admission to museums should replace the current ticket system.

Regarding archive issues, the latest white paper on culture (2003) stresses that the development strategy in the archive sector should focus on retention and providing access to a broader range of archives. It is underlined that this is necessary in order to facilitate complete documentation of social development and that this requires a better balance between governmental, municipal and private archives, and that the public and private sectors must, to a greater extent, be viewed in relation to each other.

Following the latest white paper on culture, one of the main goals for the development of the library sector in the years ahead is to facilitate a "seamless" library service, which in practice means that optimum user access through nationally coordinated information resources must be an important principle for centralised development activities across institutional and other administrative borders.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Norway

Norway/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

Statistics on participation by men and women in various cultural activities demonstrate no radical differences in their use of culture and media. However, the percentage of men and women do vary between different types of cultural activities. While museums, concerts of popular music and sports events attract men to a greater extent than women, cinema, dance / ballet, theatre / musicals, art exhibitions, public libraries and concerts of classical music attract more women than men.

The latest survey on the economic situation of Norwegian artists (1994) shows that there is an almost equal number of male and female artists. Some art forms, however, are dominated by men (photographers, authors, dramatists, stage directors, film workers, musicians and composers) while others have a predominance of women (crafts people, scenographers, ballet dancers, choreographers and singers).

A survey completed in 2002 shows that 33% of leaders in the culture sector are women. Compared to other sectors of Norwegian society (e.g. research, public administration, media and the business sector), this percentage is relatively high. From 1989 until autumn 2005, the position of Minister of Culture was held by women.

Quota schemes have not been a major factor in the culture sector in Norway. However, quotas have been suggested and debated in relation to film and jazz music. Of the students that has finished their education at The Norwegian Film School since it was established in 1997 48% has been women. When it comes to the grants given by the Norwegian Film Fund, women is underrepresented. Only 20% of the key positions in the film projects with financial support from the Film Fund from 2001 to 2005 are held by women. Because of the low representation of women in the film industry, the Norwegian Film Fund in 2006 has established a grant scheme to promote the development of film projects with women in key positions. Since the first professional jazz education was established in 1979 12% of the students have been women, most of them singers. Only 3% of the students have been female instrumentalists. Although it has been debated in the media, there are no plans of introducing quotas for the present. In the field of popular music, AKKS - an organisation working to recruit and motivate women to promote themselves in all sectors of the music business - has been important. AKKS arranges courses on different instruments and genres of popular music, primarily for women. AKKS receives some economic support from public funds.

Norway/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

Gaming machines have been an important source of income for many Norwegian organisations working for idealistic and humanitarian purposes (e.g. the Norwegian Red Cross). While non-profit organisations with idealistic objectives were the sole owners of gaming machines, a decision in the Storting (the parliament) in 1994 cleared the way for commercial actors to run gaming machines. During the last years, considerable attention has been directed to gaming addiction as a social problem which means that the idealistic and humanitarian organisations find themselves in a delicate situation. On the one hand, their work has been dependent on the income from gaming machines, on the other, this way of financing their activities has produced social problems in conflict with the overarching aims of these organisations. In order to fight gaming addiction, in 2003 the Storting changed the legislation so that Norsk Tipping AS, which is Norway's leading gaming company, wholly-owned by the Norwegian state, obtained the sole right to run gaming machines. The NGOs which ran gaming machines have been promised economic compensation for their loss of income. According to the plan, the existing gaming machine businesses will be replaced by the monopoly run by Norsk Tipping during 2005 and 2006. However, in the autumn of 2005 the EFTA Surveillance Authority has decided to bring the Norwegian gaming machine monopoly before the EFTA Court. According to the EFTA Surveillance Authority, a gaming machine monopoly is a restriction on the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services and therefore does not comply with the EEA Agreement.

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

There are two articles in the Norwegian Constitution related to culture: firstly, Article 100 guarantees freedom of expression:

"There shall be liberty of the Press. No person may be punished for any writing, whatever its content, which he has caused to be printed or published, unless he wilfully and manifestly has either himself shown or incited others to disobedience to the laws, contempt of religion, morality or the constitutional powers, or resistance to their orders, or has made false and defamatory accusations against anyone. Everyone shall be free to speak his mind frankly on the administration of the State and on any other subject whatsoever."

Secondly, Article 110a of the Constitution deals with the responsibilities vis-ā-vis the Sami people:

"It is the responsibility of the authorities of the State to create conditions enabling the Sami people to preserve and develop their language, culture and way of life."

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

There is no general legislation regulating the division of cultural competence between the national, regional and local levels in Norway. Most of the culture priorities of the municipalities and counties are self-defined. Important exceptions are the responsibility of the counties and municipalities for public libraries determined by the Act on Public Libraries (1947) and the responsibility of the municipalities for music and culture schools that was brought into the Act on Education in 1997.

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

The allocation of public funds for culture is not governed by laws in Norway.

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

The Act on National Insurance ensures that unemployed people are entitled to daily cash benefits. The daily cash benefits partially compensate for loss of income due to unemployment. Working hours must have been reduced by at least 50% compared to previous working hours. The Act on Social Services ensures that benefits are available to people who are unable to provide their own subsistence.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws

The legislation on taxes in Norway implies no specific incentives for private sector investment in culture. The ordinary rate of VAT is 25% (2005). However, cultural services have exemption from VAT. There is no VAT on tickets for theatre, cinema, ballet or circus performances. Payment for admission to concerts, sport events, galleries and museums is also exempted from VAT. In conjunction with the VAT exemption for the performance of art works (performing arts), the Storting (the parliament) has approved that the arrangement of such services also are exempted from VAT. Services that are a necessary and integrated part of the artistic performance also have VAT exemption. In addition, theatres, cinemas and organisers of exhibitions and concerts are exempted from VAT when selling catalogues, programmes, picture postcards and souvenirs. Charity institutions and organisations are also exempted from VAT when selling different goods. There is no VAT on the sale of books and audio-books in Norway. Some periodicals are also exempted from VAT. There are also tax deductions on gifts to voluntary organisations.

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

Information is currently not available.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

Norway follows the continental European droit d'auteur tradition in the general approach to copyright legislation. In addition, there is close cooperation between the five Nordic Countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway) on copyright issues. There have been no recent debates about moral rights, although there is a general public awareness that the rights-holders should be credited when their works are used.

There are no provisions in the Copyright Act explicitly covering the concept of "fair use" since Norway follows the droit d'auteur tradition. However, the system allows for exceptions to the authors' rights (see Article 9 of the Berne Convention). Such provisions include inter alia the use of works for educational purposes, use for the disabled, copying by libraries, quotations of works as well as private copying.

Secondary rights-holders - i.e. rights-holders who are not themselves the author of a work but have acquired rights from the original author - do not necessarily have the same rights as the original author. The rights of the secondary rights-holder will depend on the content of the agreement entered into by the original author and the secondary rights-holder. One example of this is if an author has sold the right of reproduction of a work to be published in the form of a novel this does not include other forms of publication, such as in newspapers or journals, unless this is specified in the agreement.

Broadcasters can use copyrighted works in their broadcasts on condition of fulfilling the terms of an extended collective licence, cf. section 30 of the Copyright Act (1961). According to this provision, the broadcaster must have an agreement with an organisation representing the rights-holders.

The most recent revision in the Norwegian copyright legislation has been the implementation of the EEA (EU) Copyright Directive (2001/20/EC). This implementation entered into force on July 1, 2005. There are now provisions in the Copyright Act concerning the protection of technological measures and rights-management information. Several provisions have also been revised to include digital reproduction. As regards other technological developments, the wording of the Norwegian copyright legislation has been kept "technologically neutral" so that rapid technological changes do not necessitate many actual changes to the Copyright Act.

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

The Personal Data Act (Act of 14 April 2000 No. 31 relating to the processing of personal data) aims to protect natural persons from violations of their right to privacy through the processing of personal data. The Act shall help to ensure that personal data is processed in accordance with fundamental respect for the right to privacy, including the need to protect personal integrity and private life and ensure that personal data is of adequate quality.

Norway/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

The following acts cover language issues in Norway:

Norway/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

On 1 August 2007, a new general Culture Act entered into force in Norway. The Culture Act is simple and contains no detailed regulations of financing, priorities or organisation of the field of culture for the state, counties and municipalities. The Act leaves room for local autonomy. At the same time, the Act aims to ensure that the counties and municipalities provide economic and organisational measures that promote a broad spectrum of culture activities at the local and regional level. The Culture Act also aims to facilitate a national culture policy in a more globalised world.

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

The following acts are relevant to visual and applied arts in Norway:

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

The following acts are relevant to performing arts and music in Norway:

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

The following acts cover cultural heritage issues in Norway:

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

The following acts cover literature and library issues in Norway:

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

The following act is relevant to architecture and the environment:

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

The following act is relevant to film, video and photography:

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

See 5.1.5 on Tax laws and 5.1.7 on Copyright provisions.

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

The following acts cover mass media issues:

Norway has no separate act relating to the press, but various provisions of the General Civic Penal Code apply. Article 100 of the Constitution protects the freedom of the press. Article 100 reads:

"There shall be liberty of press. No person may be punished for any writing, whatever its contents may be, which he has caused to be printed or published, unless he wilfully and manifestly has either himself shown or incited others to disobedience to the laws, contempt of religion, morality or the constitutional powers, or resistance to their orders, or has made false and defamatory accusations against anyone. Everyone shall be free to speak his mind frankly on the administration of the State or on any other subject whatsoever."

Article 100 is generally understood to prohibit prior censorship of printed matter. However, the Court of Enforcement may issue an order to restrain publication if it threatens to seriously harm the interests of the plaintiff. Such injunctions remain very few and rare.

In Norway, advertisements promoting alcohol and tobacco are prohibited, as well as advertising which is not in accordance with the principle of equality between the sexes, and advertising for certain medicines. Furthermore, the Broadcasting Act (1992) limits the volume of advertising allowed and prohibits advertising directed towards children.

There are no laws regarding ethical standards in the media. However since 1936 the printed press has maintained a Code of Ethical Standards through the establishment of the Press Complaints Commission. Since 1996 complaints against radio and television are also dealt with by this Commission, though a special Broadcasting Complaints Commission was in operation until the summer of 1998 in accordance with the Broadcasting Act. The basis for the hearings by the Press Complaints Commission is the Code of Ethics, which is drawn up by the press organisations through their common organisation, the Norwegian Press Association.

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

There are legal measures in terms of fees and compensations which partly constitute the economic conditions for individual artistic activity:

For more information, see our Status of Artists section.

Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

Norway/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

Public authorities have played a crucial role in the financing of culture in Norway, with the state level and the municipality level being the most important. The share of the state budget allocated to culture is about 0.64% (2005). In the autumn of 2005, a new government came to power in Norway and has stated that one of its primary ambitions in the cultural domain is to increase the amount of the state budget allocated to culture to 1 % in the years ahead. National surveys prove that the share of the total household spending allocated to cultural activities and goods is increasing; in 2005 it was 12.3%.

Norway/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

Public cultural expenditure in Norway per capita in 2005, at state level, was 1 403 NOK. It corresponded to 0.34% of the GDP.

Norway/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

Table 1:     Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, in billion NOK, 2005

Level of government

Total expenditure

% share of total

State (federal)



Regional (provincial, Länder)



Local (municipal)






Source:      Statistics Norway - Culture Statistics 2005.

Norway/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

Table 2:     State cultural expenditure: by sector, in billion NOK, 2005

Field / Domain / Sub-domain*

State expenditure**

% of total






General cultural objectives





Cultural buildings





Arts Council Norway





Funds for artists





Visual arts





Performing arts










Theatre and musical theatre





Coordination of archives, libraries and museums





Film and media





Language, literature and libraries

























Source:      Statistics Norway - Culture Statistics 2005.
*                 The categories for Field / Domain / Sub-Domain follow the categories used in the state budget.
**              Even if transfers from the state level are a crucial source of income for the municipality and county level, the transfers are not specified. It is not possible to estimate how much of the transfers are being used on culture. Therefore, the Table only includes state expenditure. The Table covers state expenditure allocated in the state budget. Not included here is the expenditure allocated through other financial instruments, i.e. profits from Norsk Tipping A/S (Norway's state-owned gaming company).

Norway/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

In Norway, public authorities have taken considerable responsibility for culture, not least by financing cultural and artistic activities. However, in recent years, attention has been directed to the potential role of private actors. In 2005 the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs presented a white paper on the relation between culture and business. It underlines that private actors may play a more prominent role in financing culture in the years ahead. However, the Ministry maintains that the main responsibility of financing culture still lies in the hands of the public authorities.

Norway/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

The most prominent reform of public cultural institutions in recent years has taken place in the museum sector. The reform aims to reduce the number of museum units at the regional level, and to strengthen the existing units professionally and administratively. The reform, often termed "consolidation", has focused on mergers between museums in the same regions and on the establishment of national networks (see also 4.2.9).

Compared to other public sectors in Norway, there has been relatively little outsourcing of activities and privatisation of institutions in the culture sector.

Norway/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

It appears that private sponsorship in the area of culture has increased in Norway in the recent decades. However, culture statistics from Statistics Norway prove that the share of the total income of art institutions, such as theatres and symphony orchestras, coming from private sponsors is still low. It is probable that the share of the total income of more project-based cultural organisations, for instance festivals, is considerably higher. In a white paper on culture presented at the beginning of the 1980s, the Ministry of Church and Education Affairs stated that a greater share of the income of culture institutions should be derived from the private market, either through the sale of tickets or from private sponsorship. The share of the total income of cultural institutions received from public subsidies, for example theatres, decreased by 10 % during the period from 1980 to 1999. This policy has promoted increased interest in sponsorship.

Norway/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

Public authorities in Norway use the following methods to support artists:

  1. Schemes for stipends and guaranteed income
    These schemes give support to individual artists.
  2. Schemes for compensation and taxes
    There are different schemes that ensure artists receive compensation for public use of their work.
  3. Grants to art institutions
    Several theatres, symphony orchestras and the National Opera get between 70-95% of their income from public grants.
  4. Grants to dissemination institutions
    The major part of the income of many dissemination institutions are public grants.
  5. Others
    There are several schemes that contribute to the extension of the market for artistic and cultural goods and services e.g. the purchasing scheme for new Norwegian literature.

Norway/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

Compensation funds / droite de suite:

Purchasing programmes:

Norway/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships

Schemes for stipends and guaranteed income for artists are important instruments in the public artists' policy in Norway. Stipends and guaranteed income may potentially be allocated to all artists who mainly live and work in Norway. In addition to the support schemes for artists on the state level, some municipalities and counties have schemes for artists, but there are great variations between regions. The schemes for stipend and guaranteed income on the state level are direct and individual support for artists which are awarded for set periods of time. However, only a small number of the applicants are successful. There was a major shift in the support policy for artists during the 1970s. While the support until then was in the form of performance-related rewards, the focus was now to stimulate artistic performance. The support policy of the state now includes the following schemes:

Norway/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

Most of the professional artists associations and unions in Norway administer support schemes for their members. One example is the Norwegian Society of Composers, which administers the Norwegian Composers' Fund, and the Norwegian Authors' Union, which administers several support schemes for their members.

Norway/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

The interest in cultural activities in Norway is growing. Cultural statistics from Statistics Norway for 2004 show that cinema is the most popular cultural activity, while sports events and public libraries are the second and third most popular activities. While 68 % of the population goes to the cinema one time or more each year, the figures for sports events and public libraries are 55% and 54% respectively. An increasing percentage of the population attends concerts of popular music (47% in 2004). The interest for ballet and dance is also growing: 12% of the population attended ballet and dance shows in 2004 compared with 8% in 1997. In 2004, cultural statistics included cultural festivals for the first time. The statistics indicate that 28% of the population participated in a cultural festival during 2004.

Women show a greater interest in cultural activities than men and children between 9 and 15 years old are the most active age group. Participation in cultural activities is socially differentiated. High income and higher education increase the participation rates for cultural activities. Participation is also greater in urban areas. Physical access plays a crucial role in the participation trends.

Norway/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

The most prominent programme to promote participation in cultural life in Norway in recent years has been Den kulturelle skolesekken (DKS) which was established as a national scheme in 2001. DKS is a national initiative for professional art and culture in education in Norway, with the following objectives:

DKS is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Research and is funded mainly by profits from Norsk Tipping A/S (Norway's state-owned gaming company). One of the preconditions of DKS is that experiences of art and culture in schools should compensate for the inequality due to the pupils' social background.

Norway/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

The Storting (the Norwegian parliament) and the government define the goals and decide the budgetary frameworks for education. The Ministry of Education and Research is Norway's highest public administrative agency for educational matters and is responsible for implementing national educational policy, including arts education at all levels. Over the last decade, arts education in Norway has been reorganised, at primary level, lower and higher secondary level and in the higher educational system. New curricula for the primary schools and lower and higher secondary school place emphasis on aesthetic disciplines. The wish to strengthen the aesthetic and creative capacities of Norwegian pupils is also manifested in Den kulturelle skolesekken (DKS) which was established as a national scheme in 2001. DKS is a national initiative for professional art and culture in education in Norway with the following objectives:

DKS is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Research and is funded mainly by profits from Norsk Tipping A/S (Norway's state-owned gaming company).

Regarding third level arts education, there are major variations between the different art forms in terms of the training opportunities available. While there are several different institutions offering higher education in visual art and music, there are less opportunities to train in the fields of literature, theatre, dance and film.

In the last decades, the number of Norwegian students gaining an art education abroad has increased considerably. This tendency has contributed to a large growth in the number of artists in Norway. As long as the economic basis for artistic work has not expanded proportionally, the expanding education of artists is seen as a problem both by artists' organisations and by public authorities. At the same time, the growing number of artists who have their professional training from abroad means that the close links that have traditionally characterised the relationship between the arts education sector on the one hand and the art institutions on the other, not least in the theatre sector, are changing. However, artists who have their professional training from abroad have not been automatically accepted in the Norwegian labour market for art, although this discrimination seems to be decreasing in recent years.

Higher arts education has been reorganised during the last decade in terms of the merger of different institutions in the field. The intentions of the state merger have been to enhance the resources available, to establish broader artistic professional environments and to promote cooperation beyond disciplinary divisions. Both working artists and professionals in the existing art educational institutions have expressed scepticism in relation to these organisational reforms. In particular, critics have questioned whether the quality of the arts education and the specific needs of each art form are sufficiently considered within the new organisational frameworks.

Norway/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Norway/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

Information is currently not available.

Norway/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Information is currently not available.

Norway/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

Kultur- og Kyrkjedepartementet: St.meld. nr. 48 (2002-2003) Kulturpolitikk fram mot 2014. (White Paper on Cultural Policy issued by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs).

Kultur- og Kyrkjedepartementet: St.meld. nr. 22 (2004-2005) Kultur og næring. (White Paper on Culture and Business issued by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs.).

Kultur- og kirkedepartementet: St. meld. nr. 17 (2005-2006) 2008 som markeringsår for kulturelt mangfold. (White Paper on 2008 as the Norwegian Year of Cultural Diversity issued by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs)

Osland, Lidvin M. and Mangset, Per : Norwegian cultural policy. Charateristics and trends. Arts Council Norway, 1995.

Mangset, Per: Kulturliv og forvaltning. Innføring i kulturpolitikk. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget., 1992. (Culture and public administration. An introduction to cultural policy.).

Vestheim, Geir : Kulturpolitikk i det moderne Noreg. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget, 1995. (Cultural policy in modern Norway).

Norway/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Cultural policy making bodies

Arts Council Norway

National Touring Exhibitions

Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority

Rikskonsertene (The Norwegian Concert Institute)

The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs

The Norwegian Language Council

The Norwegian National Touring Theatre

Cultural research and statistics

Statistics Norway


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008