Dagfinn Høybråten: ”I believe that culture will become an increasingly important part of the Nordic cooperation”

25.10.2017

Photo: Emilia Koivunen

Dagfinn Høybråten, the secretary general for the Nordic Council of Ministers, believes that Nordic values and the usage of new channels and arenas are essential for the Nordic cultural cooperation.

I met Høybråten in Greenland’s capital Nuuk, in connection with the Nuuk Nordic Culture Festival. One of the main organizers of the festival is the Nordic Institute of Greenland (NAPA), which, like the Nordic Culture Point, is a cultural institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Høybråten tells us that locating the institutions in geographically peripheral areas is a strategic choice. They serve as Nordic windows and venues in their own areas. The cultural institutions also work closely together, creating ties between the different peripheral regions.

– NAPA has, for example, a central role on the cultural scene of Greenland. We also know that many Greenlanders want more Nordic cooperation. NAPA’s visibility in Greenland may well be a contributing factor to that.

Culture has a central role

The budget for the Nordic cultural cooperation in 2017 is 23 million euros. Most of the sum is awarded in the form of grants for art and culture projects via the Council of Ministers’ grant programs. The rest is used to fund the Nordic cultural institutions and the Nordic Council’s annual prizes for culture.

I asked why culture has such a central place in Nordic cooperation. Høybråten reminded me that the Nordic cooperation is value-centred, and that the current cooperation between the Nordic governments started with cultural cooperation.

– Culture is a natural starting point, because it brings people together and is in many ways the driving force of society. There would be no Nordic cooperation without the cultural community.

He states that, naturally, the geographical proximity within the region would be there in any case, but that the relationship between the neighboring countries could have been expressed in confrontation instead.

– Cultural cooperation also touches us humans in a completely different way than many political processes do.

Culture’s own value

Today, many arrive in the Nordic region from the rest of the world. The Nordic Council of Ministers wants to do its part by facilitating the integration of newcomers into society. That’s why cultural cooperation as a means of integration is currently being invested in.

When I asked more about the subject, Høybråten first emphasized the intrinsic value of culture. Culture is always important in its own right, and the instrumental value always comes second. He then continues on the topic of integration by explaining that the reason why the Nordic Council of Ministers invest in culture as a tool for integration is because culture offers opportunities for human meetings and togetherness.

– One of the most important Nordic values is the equality of all people. This in in theory quite obvious, but in practice this value is being tested daily, as we encounter differences among our fellow human beings.

People are different, and our interests in – and interpretations of – culture vary. Nevertheless, culture basically speaks to us in the same way.

– This is the integrating power of culture. It works in the community, in associations and the like, but also within nations and between nations. That’s what cultural exchange and cooperation are all about. I think that is the main reason why Norway, holding the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017, has included culture and integration as a strong theme in their programme.

The Nordic region sparks international interest

Høybråten believes that culture will become an increasingly important part of the Nordic cooperation in the future.

– The interest in the Nordic region from the rest of the world has a lot to do with cultural expressions such as literature, films and TV shows. This is evident when looking at the great Nordic joint ventures of “Nordic Cool” in Washington D.C. in 2013 and all the things that are going on at “Nordic Matters” at the Southbank Center in London.

Promoting Nordic culture and art goes hand in hand with talking about our social models and values, Høybråten believes.

– All the different ways of profiling and positioning the Nordic region internationally are important. Therefore, I believe that even those who are not particularly interested in culture have realised the importance of cultural cooperation.

Finland’s role in the Nordic cooperation

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Session and Prize Gala will this year be organized in Helsinki in early November. As a Finn, I am interested in how my interviewee views Finland’s importance in the Nordic region and within the Nordic cooperation. Finland stands out in the Nordic countries in terms of language.

Høybråten regards Finland as a very important part of the Nordic region. He also thinks that Finns perceive themselves as an important part of the Nordic family.

– Finland represents the diversity of the Nordic countries, both culturally and linguistically. It is a challenge, but even more of an opportunity as the Nordic cooperation presents Finland with many opportunities.

Høybråten explains that during the year he has had two good reasons for delving deeper into the history of Finland: the Nordic Council Session and the 100th Anniversary of Finland.

– I have learned that many of the forces that started the Nordic cooperation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were the same as those working for Finland’s independence a hundred years ago. One could even say that modern Finland and the modern Nordic cooperation share the same roots.

Text: Emilia Koivunen

Cookie Policy for Nordic Culture Point

What Are Cookies

As is common practice with almost all professional websites this site uses cookies, which are tiny files that are downloaded to your computer, to improve your experience. This page describes what information they gather, how we use it and why we sometimes need to store these cookies. We will also share how you can prevent these cookies from being stored however this may downgrade or ‘break’ certain elements of the sites functionality.

For more general information on cookies see the Wikipedia article on HTTP Cookies. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie)

How We Use Cookies

We use cookies for a variety of reasons detailed below. Unfortunately in most cases there are no industry standard options for disabling cookies without completely disabling the functionality and features they add to this site. It is recommended that you leave on all cookies if you are not sure whether you need them or not in case they are used to provide a service that you use.

The Cookies We Set

In order to provide you with a great experience on this site we provide the functionality to set your preferences for how this site runs when you use it. In order to remember your preferences we need to set cookies so that this information can be called whenever you interact with the page. For example whether the welcome banner is displayed on the main page is affected by cookies.

Third Party Cookies

In some special cases we also use cookies provided by trusted third parties. The following section details which third party cookies you might encounter through this site.

This site uses Google Analytics which is one of the most widespread and trusted analytics solution on the web for helping us to understand how you use the site and ways that we can improve your experience. These cookies may track things such as how long you spend on the site and the pages that you visit so we can continue to produce engaging content.

For more information on Google Analytics cookies, see the official Google Analytics page. (https://www.google.com/analytics/)

We also use social media buttons and/or plugins on this site that allow you to connect with your social network in various ways. For these to work, the specific social media sites will set cookies through our site which may be used to enhance your profile on their site or contribute to the data they hold for various purposes outlined in their respective privacy policies.

Disabling Cookies

You can prevent the setting of cookies by adjusting the settings on your browser (see your browser Help for how to do this). Be aware that disabling cookies will affect the functionality of this and many other websites that you visit. Disabling cookies will usually result in also disabling certain functionality and features of the this site. Therefore it is recommended that you do not disable cookies.

More Information

Hopefully that has clarified things for you and as was previously mentioned if there is something that you aren’t sure whether you need or not it’s usually safer to leave cookies enabled in case it does interact with one of the features you use on our site.

Please let us know if you have questions or comments. (https://www.nordiskkulturkontakt.org/en/contact-us/)

This Cookies Policy was created with the help of the CookiePolicyGenerator.com