Norway and EEA funds for culture. Conference in the Old Orangery

Wanda Zwinogrodzka - Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

The Polish culture has been granted over 192 million euros from the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. These funds have made possible the execution of numerous projects, including the reconstruction and conservation of valuable monuments. To summarise this European contribution, a conference was held on 27 September 2016 in the Royal Theatre of the Old Orangery. 

The conference entitled "Protection of Cultural Heritage and Promotion of Culture – Summary of Projects in the Field of Culture Funded from the EEA Financial Mechanism and Norwegian Financial Mechanism in the years 2009-2014" was attended by Wanda Zwinogrodzka – Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and Bård Folke Fredriksen – Secretary of State at the Norwegian Ministry of Culture.

The conference discussed the execution of two programmes which allowed cultural institutions, including museums, to receive European funds for their projects. The funds were granted under the scheme of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism as contribution from the EFTA states (Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland) for the least prosperous states of the European Union – states with the lowest GDP (in return, the EFTA countries expect the possibility to enjoy the freedoms of the single market). The funds are non-repayable, and they were granted in two budget periods – between 2004-2009, and between 2009-2014.

Cultural diversity

The first programme, "Promoting Cultural and Artistic Diversity as Part of European Cultural Heritage", is financed with the funds of the EEA Financial Mechanism (until 2016), and its objective is the development of intercultural dialogue and European identity based on cultural diversity understanding. The programme is structured as a partnership – all projects are carried out in cooperation with institutions based in the states which have awarded the funds, i.e. Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

In the period of 18 years, 134 projects were funded for a total sum of 22 million euros. The projects include: the promotion of traditional Polish and Norwegian folk dances (Stanisław Hadyna’s Dance and Song Ensemble "Śląsk") locally and abroad, "Lightbridge Toruń-Slemmestad" (Toruń Cultural Agenda), International Dance Theatres "Open Stage" Festival, Materia Prima – 3rd International Festival of the Form Theatre, electronic music "Eastern Waves: Warsaw-Oslo" project, Warsaw Festival of Art Photography, as well as a project involving interdisciplinary activities combining several subjects whose leading theme is the work of the composer Fryderyk Chopin (National Fryderyk Chopin Institute).

Cultural heritage

The second programme is called "Conservation and Revitalization of Cultural Heritage". It aims at protection and conservation of cultural heritage to share it with future generations. Funds are granted for undertakings, such as: revitalization, conservation, renovation, as well as adapting historic monuments, complexes and their environment for cultural purposes; construction, development, renovation, and alteration of cultural institutions as well as development of digital assets relating to history.

In the two periods, the budget of the programme amounted to 170 million euros. In total, 56 investment projects were funded, including: the reconstruction of the vault in the Holy Virgin Church in the Castle Museum in Malbork, recreation of original interiors of the Old Orangery in the Royal Łazienki in Warsaw, execution of construction and conservation works in the Old Theatre and Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Cracow, as well as in Karol Poznański Palace in Łódź, adapting the "Zajezdnia" Centre in Wrocław for a permanent exhibition, and founding the Pan Tadeusz Museum in Wrocław. Also the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw received funds from the Norway Grants.

The buildings and monuments that were co-financed with the funds granted by the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism will be presented from 26 September to 9 October at the "European Funds for Culture" exhibition in the Open-Air Gallery of the Royal Łazienki by Aleje Ujazdowskie in Warsaw. 

Bård Folke Fredriksen - Secretary of State at the Norwegian Ministry of Culture
The conference in the Royal Theatre
The conference in the Royal Theatre