Shedding light on Nordic youth culture

ArctiCulture | Travelling arts showcase includes participation of 75 of the Nordic region’s most talented young people

Festival organisers (l-r) Ólafur Páll Gunnarsson, Hlín Jóhannesdóttir and Tero Sarkkinen, with a map of the region they are exposing to youth art (Photo: Nordisk Ljus)

Lesley Price

The ‘Nordic Light’, or ‘Nordisk Ljus’, 2014 festival is the first of its kind and will be a huge opportunity for creative teenagers residing in Nordic countries.

“The uniqueness lies both in the extensiveness of the festival, the sheer size and the set-up,” says Vilborg Einarsdóttir, one of the four faces behind the project, in collaboration with Hlín Jóhannesdóttir, Kristiina Isaksson and Tero Sarkkinen.

“The original idea of a traveling festival comes from Tero [Sarkkinen] who is a well known youth theatre director in eastern Finland and although it has developed and expanded into what it is now, it is based on his original idea,” she said.

‘Nordisk Ljus’ was selected out of 20 applications to become the ‘Cultural Nordic Event of 2013 – 2014’ and was awarded a biannual grant of 3 million Danish kroner ($545,000) by the Nordic Culture Fund.

Ms Einarsdóttir says it was a bold decision by the culture fund that normally does not provide grants for youth projects.

“This time they decided to award the grant to a project that connected young artistic people in the Nordic region and would allow young artists to make culture for themselves instead of grown-up artists making culture to show to young people,” she said.

The festival will officially kick-off in July 2014 featuring five art disciplines, including dance, music, circus, theater and visual arts. Each group has their own unique travel route through the Nordic region but will all finish in Joensuu, Finland, for the final events.

The selected artists, aged between 14 and 17, will travel for two weeks taking part in a range of tailored creative activities. They will have the opportunity to work directly with established artists, attend workshops and will have the chance exhibit their talents within a large-scale event.

Ms Einarsdóttir says the festival is an investment in Nordic youth and is ultimately about nurturing their artistic talents.

“The aim is to allow the participants to work with other teenagers who share their interests, to experience new and old cultures in different places and to develop their creative talents and artistic skills under the guidance of established artists from all over the Nordic region,” she said.

“They are given an opportunity to understand what it takes to be an artist, that there is a Nordic network that funds and inspires artistic co-operation and they will walk away not only with a vast experience and new friendships, but also with a network for their artistic future – that is for me what makes this festival truly important.”

Ms Einarsdóttir says she hopes the festival will reflect the current diversity of the Nordic nations but artists will ultimately be chosen for their talent and potential.

“We have said straight out that we are looking for the future artists of the Nordic countries and we are very serious about that,” she said.

“I hope we will see many of them develop their talents as a result and will continue to become serious artists, from the applications we already seen, I have little doubt that many of them will do just that.”

The four producers have been planning the event for the past year. Eventually around 500 people will be involved with the festival including participants, artists, producers and organisers.

Submissions have been flooding in from all around the region and the team is still promoting the festival in schools, art groups, youth clubs and organisations before applications close in November 2013.

Originally published by The Arctic Journal under the headline ‘Festival to shed a little light on Nordic youth culture’. Re-published here with the permission of the author.

The Rasmussen’s ArctiCulture articles offer a closer look at the arts and culture of the region.

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