Northern regions shine brightly in Culture and Art Programme

Tre personer klädda i vitt med svarta ögonmålningar tittar in i kameran.

There is a noticeably strong focus on the northern regions in this year’s first award from the Culture and Art Programme. A total of 33 project have been granted funding of between EUR 7,000 and EUR 100,000. With a total of 207 applications, the proportion of projects granted funding was 16 percent.

Chair Auri Ahola is satisfied after the first award meeting of the Culture and Art Programme’s expert group.

Auri Ahola i gul tröja med en ljusröd husvägg i bakgrunden.

“It’s a very nice group of people who work well together while representing their many different artistic specialisms and geographical areas,” says Auri, who has been a dancer since she was nineteen and also works as a regional artist with Sápmi as her field of work on behalf of the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (TAIKE ).

Like several of her colleagues in the expert group, she comes from the Arctic area. The Arctic has been a focal point during the last two years of the Culture and Art Programme’s programme period.

“We haven’t even needed to consider the issue of quota allocations for Arctic projects, as the projects were of such a high level that a natural emphasis among the northern regions emerged,” says Auri.

Diversity – a stamp of quality

Auri feels that the fact that the Culture and Art Programme’s experts look at every project, not just those belonging to their own specialism, is a stamp of quality.

“Experienced artists and actors in the field of cultural understand art within a broader perspective. A strong project makes an impression across borders. In our assessment, we have the benefit of representing such different geographies, with an additional perspective stemming from the fact that none of us come from metropolitan areas,” says Auri. 

The Nordic dimension is constantly present in the assessment and Auri is pleased that this criterion is reflected in the applications with such ease, creativity and innovative thinking. In the assessment of applications where sustainability, gender equality and a children’s and young people’s perspective must all be taken into account, Auri points out that artistic freedom is still paramount.

“The strongest applications speak for themselves and address the criteria without the feeling that it’s been imposed. It’s only in those applications where the idea doesn’t really go the whole course that the criteria can feel imposed,” says Auri.

New perspectives are crucial

The expert group places particular importance on the fact that the projects must evoke an emotion, or open people’s eyes to new perspectives. One such project was Waiting for the bad thing to happen by The Nordic Beasts, a dance theatre performance which explores the human will to make a difference and go out with a bang, even when the end of the world is just around the corner. The project raises questions about sustainability but turns the perspective upside down in a fresh and bold way. 

“More important than that the project ticking all the criteria is the artistic core. What’s the innovative element in the project that benefits the Nordic cultural field? Artistic freedom comes above everything – even anarchist projects can be of interest to us,” says Auri.

Other projects that were granted funding included

  • Lost and Found production’s black metal performance Witch Club Satan, where music and theatre meet in the work Bloodmother
  • Jordens hus’ audience-involving immersive installation Jordsans, which invites visitors to experience the Nordic earth inside and out
  • Southnord by sqCircle, a newly established platform for Afro-Nordic artists
  • Haparanda Library’s art project Horizont, in which the public can create their own graffiti art on top of the artists’ existing works using virtual reality.

All the projects have partners from three or more Nordic countries.

Two rounds of applications per year 

The Culture and Art Programme funds Nordic co-operation in the field of arts and culture. Funding is available for projects with an artistic and/or cultural quality that promotes a diverse and sustainable Nordic Region.

Due to the large number of applications, individual responses to applicants sadly cannot be provided. However, you’re welcome to contact Nordic Culture Point’s funding advisor when preparing your application. For more information on the programme criteria, go to the page on the Culture and Art Programme.

The Culture and Art Programme has two application rounds per year. The next round opens 12 August 2023, with an application deadline of 12 September 2023 at 15:59 Finnish time.