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Denmark/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Denmark has had a public and deeply rooted tradition of cultural centres since the late 18th century and the establishment of village halls as part of the Danish co-operative society-movement. In the 1960s and 1970s, the movement was re-awakened by self-organised citizens on the wave of the cultural and political changes in 1968. One of the first was Huset (the "House") in Copenhagen, which established rooms for musical and theatrical performances, exhibitions, debates and political activities, just like the other self-organised centres in the big cities of Europe at that time.

In the 1990s, more political interest was given to prestigious and well-established cultural centres in the municipalities. The former village houses and community centres and their emphasis on social gatherings and political involvement was weakened in the promotion of professional cultural events. The audience moved to some extent from being participants to spectators in the new "cultural palaces".

During the 2000s the wide range of cultural centres seems to have found a balance between the deeply rooted sense of community and socio-cultural behaviour and the focus on art and experiences. The majority of the centres are characterised both by their ability to present works of art at all levels as well as their ability to facilitate local cultural and artistic initiatives. Being firmly rooted in the local community the cultural centres also provide the setting for local associations and organisations within civil society. In addition to this they seek to engage in socio-cultural projects, often functioning as the bridge between local organisations and authorities.

It is estimated that the 80 cultural centres that are members of the national association of cultural centres, Kulturhusene i Danmark, present tens of thousands of public events and activities every year. In addition to this the cultural centres have continuous activities in open workshops and host a large number of meetings, gatherings and activities in workshops which are not publicly announced. The entire number of yearly visits to the cultural centres amount to approximately 4 million.

Through their membership of Kulturhusene i Danmark, the cultural centres are also part of the European Network of Cultural Centres (, which represents approximately 2 000 centres in 14 countries.

The cultural centres are partly funded by the municipality and partly by the citizens via income from selling tickets, renting out meeting facilities, and different forms of catering, public programmes and private sponsors.

The national association, Kulturhusene i Danmark, receives a minor operating grant from the Danish Ministry of Culture. There is, however, no legislation or permanent funding of the individual cultural centres available on a national level.

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Chapter published: 11-04-2012

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