Canada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

29.05.19 | News
Harbourfront Centre i Toronto
Mike Lee

Harbourfront Centre in Toronto

The culture ministers have decided that the next joint Nordic cultural initiative will be held in Canada in 2021. The country won out in tough competition with its exciting proposal focusing on artistic innovation, inclusion, sustainability and boosting relationships with the Nordic Region in multiple cities, e.g. Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver and Iqaluit.

"We are delighted to present Canada as the host of the next joint Nordic culture initiative in 2021. Previous initiatives in London and Washington served as ideal opportunities to work more closely with creatives in the host countries and boost interest in Nordic culture in the broad sense. It promises to be an ambitious, varied and enlightening programme in Canada. I would encourage everybody to keep a close eye on this event. Exciting times lie ahead,” says the Icelandic Minister of Culture and Education, Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, who is also chair of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Culture in 2019.

It promises to be an ambitious, varied and enlightening programme in Canada. I would encourage everybody to keep a close eye on this event. Exciting times lie ahead.

Lilja -Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Icelandic Minister of Culture and Education

Interest exceeded all expectations

In November 2018, the culture ministers invited Nordic embassies around the world to submit proposals for the next major initiative. Interest exceeded all expectations. No fewer than 23 ambitious proposals flooded in from all over the world, eight of which made it onto the short list. 

The winning proposal is based on the extensive co-operation that exists between the Nordic Region and Canada, and uses arts and culture to explore both what we have in common and what distinguishes us. The programme includes a range of artistic genres and multiple venues from coast to coast and north to south.

It also has a clear sustainability perspective. The programme includes artists who explore the subject in their work, the organisers have made a clear declaration of intent to be carbon neutral and it enjoys good local support from strong local partners like the leading culture organisation​​​​​ Harbourfront Centre i Toronto.

The cultural initiative, which will last for the whole of 2021, will receive DKK 5 million in funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers for Culture.


Backing from the sector

The series of joint Nordic cultural initiatives prioritises closer working relationships between the Nordic cultural sectors and the rest of the world, profiling Nordic culture and generating added value for the participants. It was important for the ministers to receive as much feedback as possible on the proposals, which were circulated to official agencies, organisations and institutions in the cultural sector in the whole of the Nordic Region and to a Nordic reference group. The success criteria were stipulated as local support for the project, an international outlook and interest for Nordic artists and cultural practitioners. Projects were also asked to into account the perspectives of children and young people, gender equality and sustainable development.


Nordic culture and art in Europe

In addition to announcing Canada as host for the next joint Nordic cultural initiative, the culture ministers also decided to provide funding for an ambitious cultural programme in Brussels to boost the presence of Nordic culture and art in Europe at the important Centre for Fine Arts Bozar during the period 2019–2020.

The decision was taken during a digital meeting on 29 May chaired by the Icelandic minister as part of her nation’s Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019.

Update by 25 June 2020: Nordic Bridges is postponed to 2022
The global impact of COVID-19 has prompted the ministers for culture to postpone Nordic Bridges in Canada by one year. It is now scheduled to start in January 2022. Nordic Bridges is the third joint Nordic cultural initiative by the ministers for culture, and is led by Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. Nordic Bridges seeks to promote interaction and exchanges between Canada and cultural sectors in the Nordic countries.