“The field of culture must not be distorted so that it just becomes part of day-to-day politics”

A woman named Auri Ahola, Chair of the Culture and Art Programme's Expert Group for 2023, is sitting with one foot up on a chair. She is looking in to the camera smiling. In the background there is a poster by Nordic Culture Point that mentions the funding programmes Norden 0-30 and Volt.

Auri Ahola, Chair of the Culture and Art Programme's Expert Group for 2023, Photo: Geir Lindahl

This year’s second round of applications for the Culture and Art Programme resulted in 33 projects being granted a total of almost EUR 1.2 million in funding. The chair of the expert group, Auri Ahola, is feeling very positive about current social trends in the field of art, but the experts insist on not letting social relevance overshadow artistic value.

“The round saw many good project applications, many of which touch on socially relevant themes such as politics, feminism, and the climate,” says Auri Ahola, the chair of the expert group for the Culture and Art Programme in 2023.

“In the assessment, however, we do not make decisions based on the theme – the starting point is always the artistic essence of the project. When the artistic starting point is crystal clear, any side themes fall into place naturally,” says Auri, who states that this method of working is a prerequisite in order for the field of art not to be distorted.

“Art must take precedence over day-to-day politics, which should be discussed more out in the field,” says Auri.

Approval rate of 17 percent

There were a total of 197 applications, 17 percent of which were granted funding. The total amount applied for was just over EUR 7.6 million. The amounts applied for ranged from EUR 5,500 to EUR 100,000.

Auri mentions Finland’s Outi Sippola’s Sea Stories project as an example of a project with a clear artistic edge.

“Sea Stories is a great example of crystal-clear artistic thought and realisation, which is about the seas and climate change and uses art as a starting point. It was a joy to read the application and award funding for the project,” says Auri.

Other projects granted funding

  • The Nordic Interspecies project by Thomas Bailey is a performance project that explores Nordic biodiversity by way of a collaboration between British Mechanimal and Nordic partners.
  • Dominykas Vaitiekūnas’s music-social project “Not what we agreed” uses music as a bridge between those who can hear and those who are deaf.
  • The RiddoDuottarMuseat museum foundation’s travelling exhibition about the resurgence of Sami drums is a collaboration between five Nordic museums.
  • Bastard Nordique – Nordic Editions is a project about inter-Scandinavian dance and performance criticism by way of a collaboration between Bastard, SITE, and Norwegian partners.

The regional distribution of applications to the Culture and Art Programme could be better, which the expert group also discussed.

“As experts in different artistic fields, we can also help to activate our own networks in the Nordic countries and remind them of the opportunity to apply for funding from the programme,” says Auri, who next year will be succeeded as chair of the expert group by Gunnar Karel Másson from Iceland.

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.

Unfortunately, due to the large number of applications, individual responses to applicants 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 on 5 February 2024, with an application deadline of 5 March 2024 at 15:59 Finnish time. 

See all the projects that received funding in this round here