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Norway/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

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

Nordic Cooperation

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 cooperation. Since then, cultural cooperation has been the core component of intra-Nordic cooperation. The Nordic Council of Ministers, which was formed in 1971, is the forum for Nordic governmental cooperation. Culture is defined as one of the major areas for cooperation.

In 2007, a new structure for cultural cooperation was implemented. The aim was to add more energy, visibility and new working methods to Nordic cultural cooperation and to add more focus to the national contributions.

The overall aim of this reform was to allocate more money for projects, while spending fewer resources on administration. One of the main structural changes was the establishment of Nordic Culture Point, an arms-length body which replaced former committees.

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 several programmes and support schemes:

  • The Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture aims to enhance cultural and artistic collaboration in the Nordic and Baltic countries by funding travel, networking and residential visits. The programme includes three different support schemes: Support for Artist Residencies, Mobility Funding and Network Funding.
  • The Culture and Art Programme is available for all fields of culture and the arts. The aim is to promote new ideas and initiatives, help establish Nordic partnerships and encourage the arts and culture in the Nordic countries and beyond.
  • The Nordic Computer Game Programme (2006-2015) aimed to stimulate the Nordic computer game industry to produce a higher quality and wider offering of computer games produced in the Nordic countries for children and young people.

The Nordic Culture Fund (Nordisk Kulturfond) is a Nordic body of cooperation whose task is to support cultural cooperation in a broad sense among the Nordic countries. In 2015, The Nordic Culture Fund awarded DKK 29 million to cultural projects in the Nordic Region or to Nordic projects outside the Nordic Region. The projects that are supported reflect the entire spectrum of cultural life and involve all areas, including visual art, theatre, music and dance, literature and new media.

Every year, the Nordic Council awards a literature prize, children’s literature prizea music prize, a film prize and a nature and environment prize.

  • The Nordic Council's Literature Prize is awarded for a work of literature written in one of the Nordic languages. The intention of the prize is also to increase interest in the literature of neighbouring countries, as well as in Nordic cultural fellowship.
  • The Nordic Council’s Children and Young People’s Literature Prize was awarded for the first time in 2013. The award reflects the Nordic Culture Ministers desire to strengthen and elevate literature for children and young people in the region.
  • The Nordic Council's Music Prize recognises musicians of a high artistic standard. The prize is awarded to a piece of music by a living composer and to a small or large ensemble of high artistic and technical standards. The prize was launched as early as 1965, and was originally awarded every third year.
  • Nordic Council Film Prizewas awarded for the first time as a trial in 2002 and became permanent prize in 2005. The prize is awarded to scriptwriters, directors and producers. The criteria for winning the prize is the creation of an artistically original film rooted in Nordic cultural circles.

Further information on Nordic cultural cooperation is available at

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:

  • Creative Europe (2014-2020) is a EU programme for the cultural and creative sectors with a total budget of 1.46 billion euros. The programme enables Norwegian cultural workers within TV, film, art and culture to collaborate internationally and to reach out to a wider European audience. Arts Council Norway is responsible for culture within Creative Europe in Norway while the Norwegian Film Institute is responsible for media.
  • EEA grants finance cultural exchange with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and the Czech Republic. Norwegian artists, producers and arts managers can also be involved in bilateral projects with Bulgaria, Slovakia, Spain and Hungary.
  • Through the EEA agreement, Norway has adopted e.g. Directive 2014/60/EU (Legislation on return of cultural goods)

The Council of Europe

Norway is one of the ten countries that 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. Norway has also ratified the following UNESCO Conventions – the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property – 1970 and The Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

The International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP)

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

Chapter published: 31-01-2017

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