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From institutions to events – structural change in Norwegian local cultural policy

 

In this paper we discuss the ongoing restructuring of local cultural policy in Norway. Since the 1990s, we argue, the local cultural sector has been undergoing a structural change, in the form of a movement from institutions to events. As public resources granted to traditional local cultural institutions such as libraries and culture schools decrease, there is a rise in resources granted to new arenas of local cultural life, such as cultural festivals and culture houses. We explain this shift of balance from institutions to events in local cultural policy with reference to three types of mechanism. First, we point to the ‘flexibilisation’ of the cultural sector, which ensues from its sensitivity to changes in the funding of the local governments. Second, new forms of earmarked state funding schemes pull local resources in the direction of cultural festivals and cultural events. A third mechanism that explains the shift from institutions to events is local policymakers’ adoption of theories of culture as a source of urban and regional regeneration.