The Year of Cultural Diversity 2008
In 2006 the Norwegian Parliament designated 2008 as the Year of Cultural Diversity. The aim of this initiative was to raise awareness of cultural diversity. Other important aims were to increase citizens' opportunities to participate in and experience a diversity of cultural expressions, to develop arenas of cooperation between majority and minority groups within the cultural sector, and that publicly financed institutions and organisations should reflect cultural diversity.
A long-term goal is to create structural changes on the decision-making level in cultural institutions. The Ministry of Culture has placed importance on appointing more board members with professional skills and intercultural competence or migration backgrounds to boards in cultural institutions.
A Secretariat was established in the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and a 14-member advisory reference group consisting of representatives from the cultural sector, non-governmental organisations, regional governments and research institutions. The members came from different cultural backgrounds. A final report was drawn up in which the Secretariat made several policy recommendations to different ministries aimed at mainstreaming issues related to cultural diversity.
The Year of Cultural Diversity also had contact persons in each county. Most county contacts reported high levels activity and innovative projects. Several counties have also seen political developments towards greater awareness and better strategies for promoting cultural diversity.
From 2008 on, all publicly financed cultural institutions have been asked to describe in their annual reports to the Ministry of Culture how cultural diversity is implemented in their strategy, programme development, human resources policies and audience development. Incomplete reports have been followed up.
In June 2010, to follow up on of the Year of Cultural Diversity, the Government appointed an independent resource group to make recommendations on how publicly funded cultural institutions should integrate questions related to cultural diversity in their strategies. The resource group’s final report, containing a 7-point strategy, was presented to the Minister of Culture in June 2011.
Challenges identified in the implementation of this measure:
The turnover in administration and management in cultural institutions is very low. Some institutions have employees with intercultural backgrounds, but most directors in cultural institutions have a Norwegian majority background.
The Year has led to a better understanding of various dimensions of cultural diversity in the cultural field. An independent review of the Year of Cultural Diversity 2008 concluded that excessive emphasis was placed upon ethnic minorities, and that the Government in so doing promoted a narrow view of cultural diversity as something relating exclusively to ethnic minorities rather than relating to society’s contemporary social fabric and culture. Perceptions of artistic quality and value remain mediated through the eyes and narratives of the majority culture.
The report also found that cooperation between large cultural institutions and small organizations promoting diversity would be improved and more balanced if the small institutions were empowered.