Nordic cultural policy in focus at the 10th anniversary NCCPR conference in Borås

“The last time this conference was held in Borås was in 2005. Now in 2021 it was once again time, this time as a special 10th anniversary conference where we celebrated the many years of Nordic collaboration in cultural policy research,” said Sofia Lindström Sol, Senior Lecturer at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science.

The Nordic cultural policy model has been a point of reference for researchers for decades. It has been said that its combination of educational ideals and social democratic welfare policy has provided a unique starting point for cultural policy in the countries. But is it still relevant for today's researchers or have political conditions changed? These were some of the issues discussed during the conference.

The conference's three keynote speakers spoke about Nordic cultural policy and the past, present, and future of cultural policy research. Anders Frenander, Professor Emeritus at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science, provided an overview of Nordic cultural policy research development. His lecture revolved around a set of questions: are there any prominent themes or patterns? Can you identify any missing themes? What kind of conclusions can be drawn?

“This introduction gave the entire conference a framework based on the history of the research area. The Swedish School of Library and Information Science and the Centre for Cultural Policy Research at the University of Borås, as organisers, constitute together a strong research and educational environment and since the beginning have been an important element of the Nordic network, which is characterised by an interdisciplinary perspective. Therefore, it was quite exciting to welcome our Nordic colleagues to Borås for this anniversary conference and to listen to an introductory speech by Anders Frenander,” said Linnea Lindsköld, Associate Professor at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science and Director of the Centre for Cultural Policy Research.

Another area that was discussed extensively during the conference’s three days was the relationship between politicians and artistic institutions. Eglė Rindzevičiūtė, Associate Professor of Criminology and Sociology at Kingston University London, spoke on the instrumentalisation of cultural policy, or when culture and art are used to achieve social, political, and economic goals. What happens, for example, when nuclear power plants become a form of cultural heritage? How do we relate to that?

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Nordic cultural sector was an obvious topic for discussion during the conference. The pandemic devastated the Nordic cultural sector; when measures were taken to prevent the spread of the virus, the culture sector was among the first to be shut down. This policy has persisted and cultural venues have been among the last to be opened. Sigrid Royseng, Adjunct Professor at the Norwegian Business School, spoke in her keynote lecture about cultural policy in times of crisis and how political reactions are based on the Nordic cultural model. The lecture described the conditions for cultural work during the pandemic crisis and how cultural policy measures have been perceived from the point of view of cultural workers.

“The Nordic research community is a small but strong player, even in international contexts. It is incredibly valuable to have the opportunity to meet and compare Nordic perspectives on cultural policy research and development. These were creative discussions where constructive criticism was the norm and the intellectual conversations were of high quality,” Linnea Lindsköld concluded.

The conference organisers were the Swedish School of Library and Information Science and the Centre for Cultural Policy Research at the University of Borås. With support from the City of Borås and the Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad

Has cultural policy succeeded?

In connection with the cultural policy conference NCCPR2021, Klebergdagen was held, a pre-conference seminar that highlighted Professor Carl-Johan Kleberg's role and significance for both the formation of Swedish cultural policy and his work to strengthen the relationship between cultural policy research and practice.

The seminar was attended by several of the cultural policy researchers who have been involved in building up the research field in the Nordic countries. Challenges for both cultural policy research and cultural policy practice were discussed.

The seminar was organised by the Centre for Cultural Policy Research, the University of Borås, and Kulturanalys Norden at the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis, as well as Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, in memory of Carl-Johan Kleberg.