Putting arts in the north on the agenda

Maria Utsi-Foto Ø.Arvola.jpg

Festival director Maria Utsi. Photo: Øivind Arvola

Arctic Arts Festival director Maria Utsi is placing a spotlight on today´s broader political situation, and how it effects artistic interaction in the northern regions. At Arts Council Norways anniversary conference in Harstad this week she gathers an exciting panel with extensive expertise on Russia.

On the 4th and 5th of November the town will welcome several hundred participants to the annual Arts Council Norway's conference. The 50th anniversary meeting has been arranged in the festival town as the Arctic Arts Festival was one of the Council´s earliest priorities.

Over two days the arts and culture branches will debate and reflect upon the value of art and culture today, and attempt to define the essence of the Arts Council Norway's role. Festival director Maria Utsi leads one of the discussions. This discussion will look at how our own cultural activities impact upon relationships with our northern neighbours; a theme which The Arctic Arts Festival will focus upon in the future.

- The Arctic Arts Festival will concentrate considerably more on arts from the Arctic, in order to reclaim our relevance and central position in the Arts and cultural life of the north. We seek to create a stronger profile of artistic life in this part of the country, and in 2016 Northern Norway will be in the spotlight. In 2017 we will highlight the Arts across the entire polar region. We will place the Arctic in an international perspective with the goal of giving arts and culture fresh momentum for development in the northern regions, states festival director Maria Utsi.

A fellow participant in the discussion will be the cultural consultant and journalist Jens-Eirik Larsen who has worked extensively in Russia both as a journalist and bridge builder within the arts. Former leader of Pikene på Broen and Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes, Luba Kuzovnikova also participates as well as Sametings President Aili Keskitalo, Jasmina Bosnjak from the Troms Council, and author and journalist Morten Strøksnes, who is an active community spokesman in the north.

Former festival director Tone Winje will also lead a discussion about the value and resonance of culture at the Arts Council conference. Harstad Musician in Residence Abazar Hamid together with rapper Khaled Harara from Gøteborg will reflect upon the role of music in circumstances where freedom of expression is curtailed.

Check out upon the program of the Arts Council Norway conference her