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It is a central goal of Danish cultural policy that all parts of the population should have access to culture. This also applies to young people. Danish cultural institutions provide a wealth of different initiatives in order to give young people access to cultural activities.
Primarily, three types of measures are being used to reduce obstacles to young people’s access to culture:
- Reduction of obstacles for people with disabilities
- Reduction of fees
- Removing geographical barriers
Reducing obstacles for people with disabilities:
According to the Act on Museums (Museumsloven, LBK nr 358 af 08/04/2014), museums must strive towards creating accessibility for people with disabilities. Accessibility implies both physical access and different forms of presentation, for instance sign language interpreting.
According to the Act on Libraries (Biblioteksloven, LBK nr 100 af 30/01/2013), libraries must provide materials for people with dyslexia, visual impairment or blindness, or other people with reading issues.
Nota.dk is the Danish Library and Expertise Centre for people with print disabilities. Nota produces, buys, and sells audio books, e-books, and Braille books, develops synthetic speech, and offers to produce audio books, magazines, and newspapers for external partners. Members of Nota must be able to document that they cannot read ordinary printed text.
Furthermore, libraries must provide library services to children and adults who are not able to visit the library, for instance due to disabilities or long distances. The library comes to you is a service that takes material to people free of charge.
Reduction of fees:
According to the Act on Museums (Museumsloven, LBK nr 358 af 08/04/2014), museums must meet a range of criteria in order to be approved by the Ministry of Culture and receive public funding.
Museums must provide free entrance for pupils in primary and lower secondary education and students in upper secondary educations.
Museums must provide free entrance for children and young people under the age of 18.
Some museums and cultural institutions extend the target group entitled to a discount on entrance, for instance:
The Royal Danish Theatre (Det kongelige teater) offers a 40% ticket discount for children and young people under 25 years. The ticket discount covers all performances. Furthermore, the theatre has special opera performances for young people in the 15–30-year age group. The ticket price is reduced and the theatre introduces the history, music, origin, and relevance of the performance prior to the show. Young people are allowed to ask questions and have a dialogue about the show.
The National Gallery of Denmark (Statens museum for kunst): Free entrance for children and young people under 18 years and approximately a 20% discount for young people under 27 years.
According to the Act on Libraries (Biblioteksloven, LBK nr 100 af 30/01/2013), libraries charge a fee when material is returned too late. Children and young people under 14 years are charged a reduced fee.
Removing geographical barriers
Cultural activities at the local, regional and state levels reduce geographical obstacles to young people’s access to culture.
There are 97 state-subsidised museums all over Denmark. The state subsidised museums must meet criteria established in the Act on Museums (Museumsloven, LBK nr 358 af 08/04/2014). Together with the state-owned museums, they form a network that aims to secure Denmark’s cultural and natural heritage and disseminate knowledge of this heritage.
Most of the museums (56) focus on cultural history, i.e. various periods and aspects of Denmark’s history. There are 27 art museums, while 2 museums specialise in natural history (geology, zoology and botany). Finally, 13 museums cover several areas, e.g. cultural, art and natural history. Some of the museums have several branches or exhibition sites.
Furthermore, a long range of cultural institutions across Denmark receive state funding. See below in the section on regional offers.
A culture region is a cooperation between one or several municipalities on the one hand and the Ministry of Culture on the other. The objective of establishing a culture region is to focus on the cultural life and activities in the region and to improve the quality in established cultural activities and cultural institutions. The agreement is a platform from which the cooperation between the municipal actors and the ministry can develop.
In order to establish a cultural region, applicants must submit an application with a vision, focus areas, objectives, and a budget for the cultural efforts in the region. Often, children and young people are a distinct focus area. The legal framework for this initiative is the Act on municipal and regional cultural agreements (LBK nr 728 af 07/06/2007).
According to the Act on Music (Lov om musik, LBK nr 32 af 14/01/2014), the Danish Arts Foundation (Statens Kunstfond) can support regional music venues. The objective of the support is to ensure music venues in all of Denmark.
The Danish Arts Foundation’s committee for the support of music projects has developed a common mission and vision in a framework agreement for the 18 music venues that are appointed regional music venue in the 2017–2020 period. The music venues are obliged to communicate, present, and develop rhythmic music at local, regional, national, and international level.
Music venues must apply for participation. In the application, music venues must present a strategy.
The Danish Arts Foundation’s committee for support of music projects conducted an evaluation of the regional music venues in the 2017–2020 period. The evaluation assesses the extent to which the regional music venues have met the criteria in the framework agreement. The evaluation concludes that the music venues actively work to attract and include children and young people. Several music venues cooperate with Live Music in Schools (Levende Musik i Skolen) in order to develop school concerts. Others are successful in developing targeted music courses where pupils are taught at the music venues.
According to the Act on Music (Lov om musik, LBK nr 32 af 14/01/2014), five regional symphony orchestras are financially supported by the state. The five orchestras contribute to strengthen music life in the regions. The objective and targets of the orchestras are established in a framework agreement. In Action Plan for Music 2019–2022, the Ministry of Culture emphasises an outreach obligation of the orchestras in the surrounding areas.
Furthermore, 11 orchestras/bands/choirs and ensembles are supported by the Danish Arts Foundation.
According to the Act on Performance Art (Lov om scenekunst, LBK nr 30 af 14/01/2014), the Ministry of Culture supports theatres all over Denmark:
The Copenhagen Theatre Cooperation entered into a cooperation with a range of theatres in Copenhagen in order to provide a broad spectrum of high-quality of theatres in Copenhagen. The Ministry of Culture supports the cooperation financially. In the 2016–2020 framework agreement, five theatres are part of the cooperation.
Regional theatres (Landsdelsscenerne): Three theatres receive funding from the Ministry of Culture.
As a supplement to the three regional theatres, the Ministry of Culture supports a range of theatres in the largest cities in Denmark. As of 2019, 21 theatres receive public funding.
Outside of the largest cities in Denmark, 33 district theatres (Egnsteatre) receives public funding. Municipalities and professional theatres have entered into a four-year framework agreement that has been approved by the Danish Arts Foundation. The Ministry of Culture reimburses 50% of the municipal grant to the district theatre. The theatres are evaluated by the Danish Arts Foundation.
The Ministry of Culture funds Theatre Centre (Teatercentrum), which is a competence centre for the distribution and dissemination of theatre for young audiences. Theatre Centre arranges an annual theatre festival for children and young people. Each year, the location of the festival changes.
Municipalities are obliged to offer a range of cultural activities:
- According to the Act on Libraries (Biblioteksloven, LBK nr 100 af 30/01/2013), municipalities are obliged to manage a library with departments for children and for adults. The public libraries provide, among other things, many arrangements and events for young people such as theatre, concerts, or talks. Furthermore, the library functions as an informal physical meeting place for young people.
- According to the Act on Music (Lov om musik, LBK nr 32 af 14/01/2014), every municipality is by law obliged to have a music school that provides music education to children and young people up until the age of 25 years. The music schools are important arenas for young people’s artistic activities.
- According to the Act on Non-Formal General Adult Education (Folkeoplysningsloven, LBK nr 1115 af 31/08/2018), municipalities are obliged to support voluntary activities in democratic associations, which includes NGOs within sport and leisure activities. The act supports activities for people of all ages, but it has a special focus on people under 25 years. These associations make a great effort to include young people in their activities.
All activities mentioned above are publicly funded.
Theatre Centre (Teatercentrum) is a competence centre for distribution and dissemination of theatre for young audiences.
Theatre Centre is a self-governing, state-subsidised institution under the Danish Ministry of Culture and has a board of five members appointed by the Ministry of Culture.
Theatre Centre disseminates knowledge about theatre for young audiences and itinerant theatre through:
- The annual Children’s Theatre Festival in Denmark – a festival that has existed since 1971 and is the largest of its kind in the world.
- Teateravisen.dk – a web-portal dedicated to theatre for young audiences.
- Den Røde Brochure (‘The Red Brochure’) – a comprehensive catalogue with detailed information about theatres in Denmark that perform for young audiences. This catalogue is published once a year.
- Handbook targeted communicators and organisors of theater for young audiences
- A YouTube channel with theatre productions, interviews, and documentaries related to professional theatre for children and young people.
The state owns 5 museums, 97 of which are approved to receive state subsidies. The museums form a network that aims to secure Denmark’s cultural and natural heritage and disseminate knowledge of this heritage. The dissemination also has children and young people as a target group. As an example of the dissemination obligation, museums are obliged to offer free entrance for people under the age of 18 years and to pupils from primary, lower and upper secondary education programmes. Furthermore, museums develop education programmes at the museums and educational materials to be used at the local education institutions.
The Danish Institute in Athens is a non-profit, self-governing institution under the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. The institute is financed by three universities, the National Museum of Denmark, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Children and Education.
The purpose of the institute is to support research, teaching and cultural communication within Greek and Mediterranean archaeology, history, language, literature, art, architecture and cultural traditions.
The institute offers the following services that are relevant for the support of young people’s discovery and appreciation of the cultural and artistic heritage of European countries:
- It accepts students from higher education programmes as trainees as part of their education programmes.
- Primary and lower secondary education institutions and upper secondary institutions can visit the institute.
- Researchers and students within the field of the institute’s purpose can apply to stay at the institute for 1-3 months. Payment for accommodation at the institute is required.
- Teachers at upper secondary education institutions can apply for a stipend to improve their knowledge of Greek culture.
- Every semester, one master’s thesis student is granted a scholarship for a 3-month stay at the institute. The scholarship includes free accommodation and a travel grant of DKK 6 000.
The Danish Institute in Rome is a self-governing institution under the Ministry of Culture. The objective of the institute is to maintain and develop cultural ties between Denmark and Italy.
Among other things, the institute offers stays and scholarships for researchers and artists.
UNESCO Denmark strives to promote core values such as education for all, democracy and protection of cultural heritage. The UNESCO secretariat in Denmark is hosted by the Ministry of Children and Education. The secretariat supports the Danish UNESCO National Commission and coordinates the efforts of the Danish ministries involved in UNESCO.
One of the strategic priorities of the Danish National Commission for UNESCO 2019-2022 is world heritage and local communities in development. The strategy contains the following targets with relevance for children and young people:
- To bring knowledge of the global world to Danish educational institutions through the UNESCO Collections at Moesgaard Museum and by distribution of UNESCO guides and teaching materials via relevant channels and Denmark’s educational portal EMU.
- To engage in initiatives that make cultural heritage – both tangible and intangible – relevant to children and young people and place it in a contemporary context.
Culture canon: In 2005, the minister for culture set up seven committees with the objective of developing a canon of culture within nine art forms. Each committee was responsible for selecting 12 works of art in each of the nine categories. In 2006, the 108 works of art were presented as the Danish canon of culture. The canon works as an introduction to the Danish artistic heritage with the purpose of qualifying the basis for a debate on Danish art and culture. The canon is not an answer book (facitliste). One of the categories in the canon of culture is children’s culture.