In the first ever Arctic Arts Summit the policymakers, artists and cultural professionals discussed the role of culture and arts in the Arctic with special focus on international cooperation and regionality. The Summit gathered participants from all eight Arctic countries to Harstad in northern Norway on 21-22 June.
The core conclusions drawn from the lively discussions were above all the further need to support the role of culture for the viability of circumpolar communities and regions. In the final statement of the Summit, the cross-regional cultural networks were also recognized as important platforms for artistic exchange and development.
It was fascinating to note, that actually many of the measures recalled are already a reality in the European Arctic – that is, in the Barents region. As the Barents professionals – Tomas Hallberg from the International Barents Secretariat, Margrethe Alnes from the Norwegian Barents Secretariat and Helena Aaltonen from the Joint Working Group on Culture – pointed out in the Summit, culture has been an integral part of the Barents cooperation since the very beginning. In practice, the cross-regional cultural development is initiated through the Joint Working Group on Culture (JWGC).
One good example of Arctic arts promotion is the JWGC’s Barents Scholarship for Cultural Cooperation, which aims to recognize and promote common arenas for artistic and cultural development and to encourage cross-border cultural cooperation. Each of the 14 Barents regions have nominated one candidate that can be either an individual artist, an institution or a collective. One candidate from each Barents country will be awarded with scholarship of 10 000 euros, funded by the respective governments. The selection process is underway, and the winners will be awarded in the next BEAC Foreign Ministers’ Session in October in Arkhangelsk, Russia.
Margrethe also shed light on the role of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat as an enabler of circumpolar cultural projects. The secretariat – owned by the three northernmost counties of Norway and funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – highly prioritizes arts and culture. Through different programmes the secretariat funds cultural projects worth of 11 million NOK (1 160 000 euros) annually. Altogether, the Barents cooperation is an important player in the field of culture – contributing also to the broader art scene of the circumpolar North.
Grant programme coordinator of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat Margrethe Alnes,
Head of the International Barents Secretariat Tomas Hallberg
and Co-chair of the Joint Working Group on Culture Helena Aaltonen gave joint presentation in the Arctic Arts Summit in Harstad.