Politics needs the arts

The Bergen International Festival seeks to present art of the highest calibre to the largest possible number of people. Photo: www.fib.no

The Bergen International Festival seeks to present art of the highest calibre to the largest possible number of people. Photo: www.fib.no


On May 20, 2009, the largest arts festival in the Nordic countries opens in Bergen. Politicians are encouraged to let themselves be inspired.

By Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Norway.org

From May 20 to June 3, Bergen will be buzzing with cultural events that should provide something for just about everyone. According to tradition, The King will formally open the Bergen International Festival. This year’s theme is “politics needs the arts”.

Per Boye Hansen, Artistic and Managing Director of the Festival, commented to the major regional newspaper Bergens Tidende: “Many of us working with the arts are challenged by politicians to be more political. I want to turn this round. Politicians have a lot to gain from the festival. There is a great deal here that can broaden their perspectives in relation to their work.”

Wild ducks and elephants

Two important productions with political overtones are Vegard Vinge’s and Ida Müller’s The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen, and Tore Vagn Lid’s Elephant Stories, which includes texts by the Austrian Nobel Laureate

Bryn Terfel and Sissel Kyrkjebø © Clive Barda/DG.

Bryn Terfel and Sissel Kyrkjebø © Clive Barda/DG.

Elfriede Jelinek. “These stage directors demonstrate how drama can expand our capacity for political reflection and how art can provide a valuable framework for fostering political thought and understanding,” Per Boye Hansen points out with enthusiasm.

Politicians accept the challenge

The Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre will take part in a debate with several Norwegian writers who have made a name for themselves as critical commentators on issues relating to identity, freedom of expression and cultural diversity. This will be the second time Støre takes part in the Festival. “Culture is an important part of modern foreign policy. For culture can build bridges over divides that traditional foreign policy cannot span,” said Støre in connection with the opening of last year’s Festival. The Norwegian Minister of Culture and Church Affairs Trond Giske will give the main speech at this year’s opening.

European heavyweight

The Bergen International Festival has become one of the most appealing arts festivals in Europe, wrote Berliner Zeitung after last year’s Festival. Increasing numbers of visitors from far and wide come to the Festival each year. Advance sales of tickets have increased by over 10% this year.

Read more about the event on Fib.no

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