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A Journey to the capitals of tomorrow: Bodø 2024

After Bergen and Stavanger, Bodø will be Norway's third European Capital of Culture in 2024, just like Tartu. ECOC News conducted an interview with Henrik Sand Dagfinrud, the Head of Programming Bodø 2024 to find out why the city decided to apply for the European Capital of Culture title and what our Norwegian colleagues wish to achieve with the title.

28. Jun Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

Bodø, located north of the Arctic Circle, has more than 52 000 inhabitants. It is the regional capital of the Nordland county and is the second largest city in northern Norway. The region consists of thriving towns and cities, deep fjords, high mountains and wild nature. Moreover, Nordland encompasses the Sami area that stretches between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Bodø’s bidbook is titled ARCTICulation, a title developed from the terms arctic, art, culture and communication. The bidding programme has three main themes: “The Art Of Nature”, “Fish And Ships” and “Transition”.

Why did the city decide to become the European Capital of Culture?

We love to bring people together. In our Arctic landscape, we must facilitate collaboration without boundaries. Culture is a unique arena for cultivating identity, a sense of belonging and critical thinking. Our dream is to create meeting places that will attract artists and cultural operators from all over Europe, so we can learn from them, and so they can bring the best of Bodø and Nordland back home with them.

What changes are expected for the reference community?

Our strategic objective number one is to ‘change the image of Nordland’. Hence one of our main themes is ‘transition’. From a cold war target to a cool European cultural hub. Put simply: we want Bodø and Nordland to become a more attractive and exciting place to visit, study, work and live in.

What are the three keywords of your cultural programme?

Young people, sustainability and Freedom of expression.

What are the main citizen involvement activities?

Citizen participation will be at the core of everything we do – it is essential for the sustainability of our project that local people are involved all the way, so that all we have built up in the run-up to 2024 can live on long after that date. Bodø 2024 is also tied to a big city development project (New City New Airport, here), where community involvement will be crucial. We will also have a strong focus on capacity building, outreach and cooperation across sectors, which will permeate everything we do. And we will involve locals in decision-making processes at all levels – we will even have a youth council.

What do you want to remain after the European Capital of Culture year?

Oh, so much! Many of the projects we are starting now will live on well after 2024. Some infrastructure, like the airport shelters we plan to convert into creative hubs, will remain. And we also hope to have generated new interest in Sami culture, which is an important part of our bid. But beyond that… we hope to have gained a new energy. Learned from new experiences. Created a new network. Seen new opportunities. Bodø 2024 is only the beginning. We hope our status as ECoC will also give us new confidence. New dreams. And new optimism for the future.

Read the full-length article on the ECOC News website