Nordic Houses seek cooperation with the Baltic States

Thursday, 08 July 2010

Head of offices of the Nordic institutionsWhile the Globalisation Initiative and the World Exhibition in Shanghai are very important, the Baltic countries should not be overshadowed by them. This is what the directors of the five Nordic Houses said when visiting our office to discuss opportunities for cooperation. The discussions involved actions for children and young people, creative industries, cultural festivals, the New Nordic Food, etc.

Nordic Houses / institutes in Iceland, Greenland, the Åland Islands, Helsinki and the Faroe Islands see to it that people in the Nordic countries remember, understand and remain interested in Nordic cooperation. The Nordic House in Greenland recently gained a new director - Leise Johnsen, a Dane who is committed to studying Eskimos and is thus familiar with the Polar regions. Won't she be lonely in Nuuk? Johnsen does not think so. Instead, she considers it exciting to promote Nordic cooperation in such a distant and isolated place.

We have had fruitful cooperation with the Nordic House on the Åland Islands for many years now, which has involved, for example, exchanging travelling exhibitions. Cooperation with the Nordic House on the Faroe Islands has been equally pleasant. A few years ago, a modern Faroese opera, The Madman's Garden, was performed as a joint project at the Kultuurikatel in Tallinn. With our Icelandic colleagues we have been discussing opportunities to introduce New Nordic Food. We hope to deepen cooperation with the Nordic Institute in Helsinki soon.

Interesting events

The directors of the Nordic Houses have presented some interesting cooperation projects which are being successfully implemented in the Nordic countries and which they believe will also attract attention in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

On the Åland Islands, a competition for 9th grade pupils was announced early this year. The aim of the competition was to encourage young people to write - put the thoughts, feelings and visions they associate with the word 'shadow' into words. The jury received an unexpectedly large number of texts, which included song lyrics, short stories, instructions for use, strip cartoons, poems, recipes, ideas and more. The best texts were included in the competition anthology, and well-known writers recited some of the texts at the children's and youth literature days in Mariehamn.

Another interesting project carried out on the Åland Islands was VAR?DAG?/EVERY?DAY?, which united children from ten countries with different cultures. Children took photos of their families, homes and leisure activities. The photos were combined into a video installation, which has been exhibited in the Museum of Åland and the Finnish Cultural Institute in Berlin.

The Nordic House in Helsinki is managing the common internet portal of the Nordic countries called Valhalla. Valhalla is primarily intended for those who work with children and young people. The portal provides news, information about events, materials and thousands of relevant links. Years ago, news updates were also sent to Valhalla from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Gun Oker-Blom, Director of the Nordic House in Helsinki, has said that they would be happy to add interesting news and links from the Baltic States to the information base of Valhalla again.

In Iceland, the Duo Stemma project has won the hearts of the people. The magical world of sounds makes for an inspiring performance which combines entertainment and learning. Professional musicians are involved in the performance, using unusual instruments such as yoghurt cups, sand paper, natural stones and the like. The project has been most successful in kindergartens and schools in Iceland as well as in the Netherlands.

The Nordic House on the Faroe Islands organises a wide range of activities for extended weekends: completion of work started, learning under the guidance of local craftsmen, original exhibitions and happenings. The project has gained visibility and popularity since 2001.

During their visit to Estonia, the directors of the Nordic Houses met, among others, with representatives of the Estonian Ministry of Culture at our office in Lai Street, Tallinn. From Tallinn the directors then headed to Vilnius.

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