Force for change in cultural networks

Anna Júlia Friðbjörnsdóttir, Daniel Urey, Søren Burholt Kristersen and Triinu Aron are standing next to each other in a library with a map of Europe in the background.

Anna Júlia Friðbjörnsdóttir, Daniel Urey, Søren Burholt Kristersen and Triinu Aron. Photo: Heidi Orava

Right now, the social debate is centring on sustainability, the climate, and the power play between the great global powers. Although it’s not exactly the best time for individuals to make their voices heard or to practice their art, for networks in the field of art and culture, it’s a chance to explore how joining forces can make a difference.

This is the thinking of Søren Burholt Kristensen, member of the expert group that decides on network funding within the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture. Of the 57 applications received, the expert group granted funding to 14 networks at its second award meeting of the year. The total amount granted stands at EUR 272,890. 

“Although we can’t influence events, as a mouthpiece and audience, we have the opportunity to share our knowledge and different points of view. There are also plenty of opportunities to find areas of co-operation specifically in the Nordic-Baltic region, where it’s easy to find common denominators,” says Søren.

Paving the way for future networks

With this decision meeting, the three-year mandate for the expert group for Network funding came to an end. After reading hundreds of applications, the group is happy to reflect. Anna Júlía Friðbjörnsdóttir, member of the expert group, points out that the networks do not need to consist solely of institutions.

“For starters, it’s important that all the networks embody the artistic perspective. In addition, it’s important to include the artists themselves in the networks. We’ve seen quite a few otherwise good applications in which the artists were completely missing, which is a shame as they could give the networks a great deal of added value,” Anna points out.

The group would also like to buck the trend of networks that operate solely within a single art field, and encourage more cross-border collaborations.

“On a meta level, the networks are about strengthening what our countries and our respective art fields have in common, as well as remembering that all partners in a network don’t necessarily need to arrive at the same point. The most important thing is to work towards a common horizon,” says the chair of the expert group Daniel Urey.

Examples of projects awarded funding in this round

  • STAY COOL is an Arctic network for professional dancers initiated by Tanssiteatteri Rimpparemmi. The network will provide support and cross-border contacts, as well as foster a community through a series of face-to-face events. Participating countries: Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
  • Baltic Contemporary Opera Network is an initiative led by partners from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, headed up by Operomanija. The aim of the network is to facilitate cultural exchange and the exchange of experience, and to develop the conditions needed for co-operation within the field of modern opera by way of a collaboration between artists and producers in the region.
  • Lýsa Network by the Finnish Light Art Society FLASH is creating a Nordic network in which curators, producers and programmers responsible for light art events can share their experiences and collaborate on things such as sustainable working strategies in the Nordic Region and beyond. The participating countries are Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

The next application round for both short-term and long-term network funding will open on 19 January 2024 and close at 15:59 Finnish time on 19 February 2024.