About the Nordic cultural initiative Nordic Bridges

Harbourfront Centre i Toronto
Mike Lee
The year-long cultural initiative Nordic Bridges is one of the Nordic Cooperation’s most ambitious international ventures to date as it will serve to connect artists, thinkers and innovators from the Nordic Region – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland – with programming partners and professionals from all over Canada. 

From January to December 2022, the initiative will highlight contemporary Nordic art and culture in a range of disciplines, including dance, theatre, circus and music, visual and digital arts, craft and design, literature, film, and culinary arts. 

Leading and curating Nordic Bridges is Harbourfront Centre, an international contemporary, multidisciplinary arts and culture institution in Toronto. Together with over 20 programming partners across the country curation is based on four key pillars: Artistic Innovation, Accessibility and Inclusion, Indigenous perspectives and Resilience and Sustainability.   

“For over two years we have worked with hundreds of Nordic and Canadian artists to get ready for Nordic Bridges, and we are thrilled to present their work, throughout 2022, from coast to coast to coast,” say Iris Nemani, Chief Programming Officer at Harbourfront Centre. 


Artists from all the Nordic countries

Nordic artists and stakeholders from all the Nordic countries will collaborate and perform alongside Canadian artists at festivals, arts institutions and museums across the country as well as on the road with several events intended for touring both Canada and in the Nordics.   

The initiative has among others partnered with Toronto International Film Festival, BreakOut West and the National Arts Centre which will help to raise local engagement for and knowledge of Nordic arts and culture spanning from Toronto to Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg, Whitehorse and beyond.  

Nordic Bridges also presents add-on programming like the Nordic-Canadian Fellowship in Environmental Journalism which focuses on offering emerging journalists between the ages of 18 – 25 the chance to learn, travel and dive deep into some of the biggest threats facing the environment today.   

Venture to Canada

The choice of Canada as destination for a Nordic cultural initiative was made by the Nordic Ministers for Culture in 2019 after an open call. Harbourfront Centre in Canada won out in the end with their focus on artistic innovation, minimizing a carbon footprint, and demonstrating how arts and culture can be integral building blocks in society. 

In addition, the strong collaboration between Harbourfront Centre and the Nordic embassies in Ottawa played a pivotal role in securing Canada as the host of the next Nordic Cultural Initiative.  

The Nordic Bridges initiative will generate dialogue between Canada and the Nordic Region on culture’s role in the creation and promotion of sustainable societies. Exchanges and contact points such as these are therefore not only meaningful for the cultural sector itself, but can also lead to other relations between the Nordics and the rest of the world adding to both the image of the Nordics and the exchange of important impulses between the Nordics and Canada. The Nordic Ministers for Culture aim to increase this potential through cultural initiatives. 

“We’re looking forward to this key year for Nordic art and culture - a year in which Canada and the Nordics will come together to exchange art and culture, knowledge and ideas,” says Anette Trettebergstuen, Norway’s Minister of Culture and Equality and chair of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Culture in 2022. “This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of art and culture in society and in people’s day-to-day lives.”

Ripple effects and proven results

Nordic Bridges is the third major initiative in recent time, following the success of Nordic Cool at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in 2013 and Nordic Matters at the Southbank Centre in London 2017. All three initiatives have been seeded by a grant from the Nordic Council of Ministers for Culture, and have sought additional funding from both national, other Nordic or private sponsors. 

The Nordic Ministers for Culture initiate ventures outside the Nordic Region that aim for greater interaction between the Nordic culture sectors and the rest of the world, raising the profile of the Nordic culture sectors abroad, and generate added value for the participants and artists, thereby also marketing the Nordic region as a creative region. 

The content of the cultural initiative must be of high artistic quality and cultural value. There must be a mutual demand for and interest in a Nordic cultural initiative at the chosen location, and it must promote a cultural dialogue between key, competent local partners on both sides. 

Nordic Bridges 2022
Harbourfront Centre