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Tartu 2024 Visit in Bodø: Towards Stronger Cooperation

From May 30 to June 2, members of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 team and representatives of Tartu cultural institutions visited the city of Bodø in Norway, which will also hold the ECoC title in 2024. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen cooperation with Norwegian colleagues and to talk about potential joint projects. Marika Goldman, Marketing Manager of Tartu 202, Karl Kristjan Kits, Marketing Manager of Tartu Light Festival and Kristjan Raba, Coordinator of Special Projects at the Estonian National Museum, share their impressions of the trip. The visit was made possible by EEA Norway Grants. 

Inimgrupp levitab mäe otsast.
09. Jun Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu


Photo: Marit Helene Thoresen


What were your first impressions of Bodø? What did you do during the trip?

Marika Goldman: Bodø is a beautiful city with 55,000 inhabitants north of the Arctic Circle. During the trip we visited Bodø’s museums, concert hall and library, which is a very popular place among the locals. We also attended an event where Bodø presented their new visual identity. It was interesting to see what Bodø will look like in the future.

Kristjan Raba: I had the opportunity to visit the Bodø City Museum. I got a thorough overview of their permanent exhibition on the history of the city and the plans for a new exhibition, which will cover the modern Sámi culture in 2024. We discussed the possibilities of cooperation on Finno-Ugric issues. I also listened to the presentation by the Arran Centre, which introduced what the centre does and what the situation of Sámi culture and handicrafts is in Norway today. In addition, I had the opportunity to see the exciting international cooperation exhibition “Heritage”, which dealt with the topic of marine litter, as Bodø is also planning the direction of the environmental programme.

Karl Kristjan Kits: We visited Bodø during a period when the sun will not set for the coming months, so as an organiser of a light festival, it was not possible to get acquainted with city lighting solutions, which interest me. However I could meet different people and explore various environments. I visited the Aviation and Photography Museum, the Maritime and Bodø Museum of Cultural History, the Stormen Concert Hall, the library, several restaurants and walked along the magnificent seaside promenade. We also hiked to the top of Keiservarden, which overlooked the town of Bodø, the sea and the surrounding mountains.


Photo: Kerli Peetsalu

What do you expect from Bodø in 2024?

Marika Goldman: The biggest feature of Bodø is, of course, their location. In the winter months there is a polar night and from the beginning of June there is a polar day. Of course, they have also planned their programme according to their natural characteristics. A programme in the rhythm of nature is very exciting to me.

Kristjan Raba: I look forward to the arrival of exciting Norwegian performers in Tartu. It would be in the interest of ERM to have good Norwegian Sámi performers, who would illustrate the culture of the Nordic peoples and give a living dimension to the largest Finno-Ugric permanent exhibition “Echo of the Urals” in Europe. Within the framework of the Tribal Club operating at ERM, we could bring experts to Estonia who add an international dimension in cooperation with the two European Capitals of Culture.

Karl Kristjan Kits: I believe that Bodø will surprise visitors with enchanting views of nature, delicious fish dishes and a rich cultural programme that is strongly influenced by Sámi culture. The visual identity revealed during our visit provides initial clues.


Photo: Kerli Peetsalu

How is Bodø different from Tartu? How is it similar?

Marika Goldman: Compared to Tartu and South Estonia, the distance it takes to travel from one end of the region to another is almost double. Bodø and the region is almost 500 kilometres long. This feature can be taken into account when planning events. We are certainly similar in mentality, because we are small cities in European terms that try to stand out with their special programme.

Kristjan Raba: In the European context, both are small towns. Communication must be good to bring out a varied programme. It seems that the planned music events will be of a high standard in both cities, thanks to the fact that the Bodø Concert Hall acts as a kind of cultural centre, where both young and old professionals are given a voice and a chance to perform. The basic message “environment and man” is similar, because Norway’s powerful nature provides a lot of inspiration or reflection on how great these Arts of Survival really are.

Karl Kristjan Kits: Bodø is undoubtedly one of my travel recommendations where you can experience total tranquillity. Bodø and its inhabitants are calm, warm and hospitable. It is a place where problems seem to be seen as untapped opportunities.


Photo: Erni Kask

How do you plan to work with Bodø in the future?

Marika Goldman: We have worked together before and will continue after this trip. We have a network of European Capitals of Culture where we share experiences and success stories about how we have tackled various challenges. We are currently discussing how we can market our programmes to a Scandinavian audience so that a foreign visitors can find us.

Kristjan Raba: The cooperation will become clear after the representatives of Norwegian institutions themselves visit Tartu. We will discuss together whether, for example, a smaller travelling exhibition could go to Bodø. ERM can provide strong content for Finno-Ugric experts, offer topics in the field of visual anthropology, introduce publications and film programmes. The theme “Stories of Cold War ” proposed by the Norwegian Aviation Museum is similar to the fascinating story of Raadi’s military heritage. Time will tell!

Karl Kristjan Kits: Despite the fact that this was the first meeting, common sectoral concerns became clear quite quickly. These are the starting points on which our cooperation focuses on. I am extremely pleased that both Bodø and Tartu are preparing an urban lighting strategy to develop the urban environment. True, our starting points are different – Bodø focuses on the new district to be built in the next decade, and Tartu on the existing one. This is a fundamental difference in which Bodø undoubtedly has an advantage. 

Creating the city’s lighting environment from scratch is easier for architects and designers than renovating what is already built. The primary plan is to bring together lighting specialists from Estonia, Norway and other countries to learn from each other’s experiences and thus compile the best lighting strategy that takes into account the specifics of Tartu and the experiences of others. It is a living and constantly evolving document that gives local governments and the private sector the confidence to create meaningful lighting solutions. I believe that this example is just one of the many opportunities for cooperation that the mobility programme launched makes possible.


Photo: Erni Kask

The Norway Grants and the EEA Grants represent Norway’s contribution towards a green, competitive and inclusive Europe.

Through the Norway Grants and the EEA Grants, Norway contributes to reducing social and economic disparities and to strengthening bilateral relations with beneficiary countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. Norway cooperates closely with the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). Together with the other donors, Norway has provided €3.3 billion through consecutive grant schemes between 1994 and 2014.

Norway Grants are financed solely by Norway and are available in the countries that joined the EU after 2003. For the period 2014-2021, the Norway Grants amount to €1.25 billion.