Today marks the launch of Nordic Matters, the largest festival of Nordic art and culture ever in the United Kingdom. The venue – the Southbank Centre in London – is one of the biggest cultural institutions in England, attracting more than 26 million visitors last year. Throughout 2017, British audiences will find out about everything from the Moomins, fika and saunas, to Nordic art, literature, dance, design, food, drama, debates and music.
It is the first time that the Nordic Council of Ministers has funded a year-long festival. The idea is to use art and culture to offer the British public greater knowledge of and insight into the Nordic Region and the values that characterise our countries. The Southbank Centre has run with the idea, focusing on gender equality, sustainability, children and young people when putting together the programme. Nordic Matters revolves around the concept of “play” and how it stimulates curiosity and creativity. Another key aspect of the festival is to encourage cultural exchanges between Nordic and British artists and audiences.
I hope that Nordic Matters will help forge even closer bonds between Britain and the Nordic Region and that we will get to know each other even better in 2017. We live in an era when knowledge and respect for each other are critical to the maintenance of a stable world order, an endeavour in which art and culture play increasingly crucial roles.
The Nordic brand has made its mark in the world, not least in the UK, so the timing of Nordic Matters is perfect. While no single phenomenon explains this trend, Nordic (noir) films and TV series and New Nordic Food have generated huge interest. The British are also interested in Nordic lifestyles and values. The concept of hygge has now entered the English language, for example, and was in the top 10 most popular words in 2016. We hope that the festival will generate even greater interest in all things “Nordic”, provide the British with wider new perspectives on what else the term covers and shows them Why Nordic Matters!