On September 9 the parliamentary elections is going to be held in Norway. For a four year period, 169 members of parliament representing 12 counties will be elected.
For the past eight years, a so-called “red-green” government, a majority constellation of the Labor Party (Ap), the Socialist Left Party (SV) and the Centre Party (SP) has had governmental power and responsibility for Norwegian cultural policy. Polls show that there is likely to be a change of government, and that a new government with the Conservative Party (H) and the Progress Party (FRP) will be formed, with the support of the Christian Democrats (KRF) and the Liberals (V). But what does this mean for Norwegian cultural policy?
Over the last four years, the present government in many peoples opinion has, regardless of party affiliation, led a good and proactive cultural policy. From the start, the coalition aimed to spend one percent of the national budget on culture. Since 2005, the total spending has increased by about 4.9 billion Norwegian Kroner.
– Since 2005, we have doubled the cultural budget. Over the past eight years, we have shown that the investment works, but we have to move on. But we are the only government that stand behind this initiative, said Minister of Culture, Hadia Tajik (AP).
The cultural budget’s share of the total budget accounts for 0.96 percent of the national budget, equivalent to 9.95 billion Norwegian Kroner.
Thus, the government is on track to meet its cultural promise that one percent of the national budget should go to cultural purposes in 2014. In addition to other cultural purposes, the money is spent on Norwegian film, museums, opera, ballet, theater, performing art, artistic scholarships, and more.
Three days ago the government presented its “cultural promises” for the next four year period. They promised, among other things, to spend more on the national libraries by developing a national strategy for the sector – and strengthen the information mediation role. The government also wants to offer school children lessons in music, dance, theater and art, and make this a statutory task – the so-called “Cultural School”.
– This autumn, all children be offered one free lesson in cultural activities, and in the future we will provide governmental support for local government’s commitment to social cohesion and strengthening of the cultural activities in schools, said SV leader Audun Lysbakken.
The present government claims that a change of government will lead to a “destruction” of the current cultural policy if the Progress Party comes to power. The party will cut the cultural budget and transfer responsibility to private initiators – based on the philosophy that “good culture is profitable and can stand on its own feet.”
After studying the political programs, ThorNews is not worried that a change of government will destroy Norwegian cultural policy. There is broad political consensus that investment in culture is important, but the parties obviously have different priorities. These include the Christian Democrats who want a bigger commitment to church maintenance, choirs and school- and marching bands.
If the Progress Party comes to power, the other political partners will maintain the current focus on culture, while the Progress Party will gain support for “more important” political objectives.
Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews
Illustrating photo: Ung.no
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