The Southbank Centre is looking north throughout 2017, staging the biggest festival of Nordic art and culture ever in the UK. All of the Nordic culture ministers, as well as their British counterpart, Matt Hancock, are attending the official opening of Nordic Matters.
“One of our hopes for this year is that we, the Nordics and the UK, can share knowledge about each other. We live in a time where knowledge about and respect for others is crucial to preserving a stable world order. I believe that art plays a more and more important role in making this happen. We also hope that the audiences here will have more than one pleasant surprise throughout the year, and hopefully you will gain new perspectives about what ’Nordic’ really means,” the Norwegian Minister of Culture, Linda Hofstad Helleland, said on behalf of her Nordic colleagues.
The launch event marks the start of the opening weekend of Nordic Matters, during which a range of artists gave their British audience a taste of what is to come for the rest of the year. The Sámi artist Outi Pieski has transformed the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall with her installation “Falling Shawls”. The bill for the weekend features the Swedish jazz vocalist Emilia Martensson in a duet with the Danish jazz bassist Jasper Høiby, the Icelandic author and former winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize Sjón, the Finnish author and journalist Anu Partanen, who has written “The Nordic Theory of Everything”, the Norwegian musician and activist Pål Moddi Knutsen and many more.
The South Bank Centre in London, one of the biggest cultural institutions in England with more than 26 million guests last year, is providing the majority of the funding for Nordic Matters. The Nordic Council of Ministers has provided a grant of DKK 5 million. Other contributors include the national funding bodies for the arts in the Nordic Region, the Nordic Culture Fund and a range of other Nordic partners and sponsors.
The Nordic Matters programme is being curated by the Southbank Centre. The Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic embassies in London and the national cultural institutions in the Nordic nations, Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands have provided the South Bank Centre with assistance throughout the process.