Nordic Council of Ministers

Life after Nordbok
As of 2007 Nordic cultural cooperation will acquire a new structure. Today’s arrangement of permanent committees for literature and libraries, music, the visual arts, dramatic art, etc. will be replaced by a system of 3-year plans of action and programmes of limited duration.

At present discussions are taking place to decide upon the organisation of new programmes of activities and the nature of their contents.We are therefore now at a stage where there are more questions than answers, although some of the pieces are beginning to fall into place.

It would appear that Nordbok’s activities within the literary field will be maintained by two programmes, but there is some uncertainty as to what place will be given to Nordic library co-operation. One of the two programmes devoted to literature will consist of a mobility and residence scheme for practitioners and disseminators of the arts, the target group here to include both authors and translators. Other activities in the literary field are at present under consideration by a working committee whose mandate is to create a framework for one or more programmes either to replace or to continue the main functions covered by the art committees of the present day.

Questions being considered by the working committee include the following.

  • Which functions should be retained and continued?
  • What other types of support are at present lacking?
  • How should support for artistic production be viewed in relation to the mobility programme?
  • How should the Nordic arrangements for financial support be organised so as to complement those administered by each individual country?

In order to provide the working committee with basic material for its decisions, each of the committees to be disbanded has presented a report, generally referred to as its last will and testament. The conclusions in Nordbok’s report consist of a list of factors which Nordbok feels will require particular attention when planning future Nordic programmes of mobility and support for the arts.

  1. The literary process is a lengthy one. Literature demands a long-term perspective, not short-term initiatives or solutions.
  2. Nordic cooperation must protect and promote inter-Nordic language understanding.
  3. The minority languages (such as Sami, Greenlandic and Faeroese) must be ensured a place in the new structure. Children’s literature in these languages should be given particular priority.
  4. The functions of the library as a network builder and a disseminator of culture and the arts are very important and should occupy a natural place in any future Nordic programme for the arts.
  5. The multicultural perspective should be a constant feature of Nordic cultural cooperation.
  6. The present system of financial support for translations of literature from neighbouring Nordic countries must be retained in some form or other. This also applies to scholarships for translators.
  7. The new arrangements should continue to provide support for authors visiting libraries and also for the Nordic Library Week, “Twilight Hour”.
  8. Courses for Nordic writers of the type arranged at the Nordic Folk High School Biskops-Arnö should be given a prominent place in future Nordic cultural cooperation.
  9. The Nordic Council’s Prize for Literature has the potential to be more actively exploited in the promotion of Nordic literature.
  10. The year-book, Nordisk Litteratur, should continue to be published as a witness to Nordic cooperation but an alternative, permanent administrative solution needs to be found.

The committee also proposes some new areas of initiative in the field of literature and the public library.

  1. A Nordic agency to promote the literature of the minority languages.
  2. A Nordic Internet bookshop.
  3. A training course for authors, translators and critics aimed specifically at the minority language areas.
  4. New library projects to promote Nordic literature among the general public.

The answers as to what the programmes will contain and how they are to be organised will not be forthcoming until June of this year, when the Ministers of Culture from the Nordic countries meet to consider the various proposals put forward by the working committees.

Tranlated by Eric Deverill

director, Nordbok.