Culture and the media are central to Nordic co-operation. Cultural co-operation in the Nordic Region was in itself the starting point for the establishment of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 1971. Culture and language bind the people of the Nordic Region together across the borders. For instance, it is through books, TV series, and music that many experience first contact with their neighbours. The Nordic Region has a diverse cultural life with plenty of room for differences, curiosity and development.
Culture is a pervasive and driving force that generates trust in our society, not least when we talk about our pursuit of a green Nordic Region, a competitive Nordic Region, and a socially sustainable Nordic Region. Through our experiences of art and culture, we learn to understand ourselves and each other.
Nordic cultural-political co-operation is important for the population in all parts of the Nordic Region as well as the rest of the world, and that’s why it reflects the common values which are the cornerstone of the Nordic countries. Large and small cultural initiatives alike stimulate art and cultural life in and outside the Nordic Region, encourage Nordic language comprehension, promote creative professions, and contribute to the development of knowledge and the collection of statistics on culture and media. Media policy is an integral part of Nordic co-operation on culture.
Three strategic priorities
In their cultural-political co-operation programme for 2021-2024, the Nordic ministers for culture have identified three strategic priorities, which set the framework for the work in this period:
- A green Nordic Region: A green cultural life ensures good life opportunities for current and future generations.
- A competitive Nordic Region: A vibrant art and cultural life in and outside our region contributes to green growth.
- A socially sustainable Nordic Region: An inclusive Nordic cultural life promotes democracy, diversity and quality of life.
Five Nordic cultural institutions
The Nordic Council of Ministers has five cultural institutions, all of which play strategic roles in achieving the goals of the cultural-political co-operation programme:
In the field of culture and media, the Nordic Council of Ministers has close, strategic co-operation with the following three organisations:
Funding schemes and other cultural-political initiatives
In addition to the five pan-Nordic cultural institutions and three strategic partnerships, MR-K finances a number of funding schemes and organisations, and also sets into motion ongoing cultural-political initiatives.
The funding schemes include the Culture and Art Programme, the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture, and Volt (culture and language programme for children and young people), all of which are administered by Nordic Culture Point in Helsinki. In addition, there is Nordic funding for translations, which is administered by the national literature centres. The two strategic partnerships, the Nordic Culture Fund and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond, mainly run funding activities, and the Nordic Institute in Greenland (NAPA) administers a separate cultural funding scheme. MR-K also finances the Sámi Council’s cultural funding scheme.
MR-K finances the Nordic Council prizes for literature, film, music, and literature for children and young people, and supports Sami cultural co-operation through the annual funding of the Sámi Council and the Sámi Artist Council.
MR-K’s total budget in 2021 is DKK 163 million.
Forums for co-operation
The Nordic Council of Ministers for Culture (MR-K) meets twice a year to discuss and take joint decisions in areas where joint action and policies generate greater value than can be achieved by the individual countries on their own.
The Committee of Senior Officials for Culture (EK-K) is associated with the council of ministers. EK-K consists of senior officials from the ministries for culture in the Nordic countries, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. The committee usually meets three to four times a year, prepares ministerial meetings, and manages the practicalities of implementing cultural policy.
The Secretariat to the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen is responsible for the day-to-day running of Nordic inter-governmental co-operation. The Department for Culture and Resources (KR) prepares the questions to be discussed by the council of ministers and the associated committee of senior officials. In addition, the Secretariat ensures the implementation of all decisions taken.
Nordic Council of Ministers’ action plan for Vision 2030
The action plan describes how the Nordic Council of Ministers will work to achieve the objectives of the vision through a series of initiatives linked to the vision’s three strategic priorities: a green Nordic Region, a competitive Nordic Region, and a socially sustainable Nordic Region. There are 12 objectives linked to the strategic priorities. The strategic priorities and objectives govern all the activities of the Nordic Council of Ministers over the next four years. The action plan is divided into 12 sections, each one linked to one of the 12 objectives.