Culture is increasingly prominent on the international agenda. But the discussion about whether and how culture contributes to combating poverty and sustainable development has far to go. Part six in a series about culture and development policy by donor countries.


March 2007 -

Norway, along with Sweden, was one of the first countries to include support for culture and art in development cooperation. Since the early 1990s, this support has been a small, but important part of Norwegian development assistance. It is controlled by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ( MFA) and Norad, the state agency for development cooperation issues.

In 2006, Norad's department of culture changed from a controlling body to a more advisory institution. Now, the responsibility for bilateral development cooperation, including coordination and budget control, is mainly handled by the MFA and Norwegian embassies. All activities are based on the main strategy paper for bilateral cultural (and sports) cooperation published in 2005. Reducing poverty is the main target of all development support. As a part of that, culture is an essential human right and an important force for development. Therefore, supporting art heritage and the cultural sector is a tool for achieving development objectives. “Throughout the ages and in every society, mankind has expressed itself through song, poetry, pictorial art and drama. This creative ability is a way of relating to life and to the world around us” says Norad about its commitment to the culturalfield.

Norad is responsible for providing support for cultural activities through friendship links and NGOs. At project level, Norad collaborates with Norwegian institutions outside the cultural sector such as the Nationaltheatrets institute and the Rikskonsertene . Strømme Foundation is a Norwegian NGO that supports cultural activities in developing countries in terms of ” communication of creative expressions and public opinions”.