The Danish cultural centers are the only cultural institutions in the municipalities specialized in facilitating locally based art and cultural initiatives. This facilitation is physical (premises, IT equipment, workshops, etc.) as well as knowledge-related (advice, networking, coordination, etc.).
From 2007 to 2009 a project was designed by The National Society of Danish Cultural Centers in order to exploit this expertise and to assist the development of 10 locally managed Project Stations all over the country. Locally, cultural project makers should have access to the necessary physical and knowledge-related facilities in these Project Stations and this was done by selecting 10 projects for each Station.
Additionally, the 10 Project Stations entered into a nationwide network, partly to ensure that the projects selected were provided the best conditions for realization and partly to make it possible to gather knowledge and experience from the locally based cultural activities.
The aim of establishing locally based Project Stations was to give citizens in the local areas a possibility to develop and realize their art and cultural projects, and at the same time to give the cultural centers a possibility to strengthen their capability in facilitating locally based artistic and cultural initiatives.
10 centers 10 projects
A significant part of the locally based art and culture projects are organized within the national associations of The Joint Council of Voluntary Arts Association and National Association of Cultural Councils in Denmark, but at local level these associations don´t always have resources to support the development of new activities. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that many local citizens are not necessarily attracted to the national associations and they are thereby without access to the resources that may exist. Project Stations are therefore also aimed toward persons "without association".
10 cultural centers were selected as Project Stations after applying for participation.
In every cultural center one employee or volunteer was appointed a "station-master" and thereby responsible for the local work. In order to find the best local projects a small steering group was established in each center.
After the implementation of a local contest, 10 project makers were selected, each responsible for attainment of their own project. After extensive planning, detailed information including syllabus for the local responsibilities for the Project Stations were prepared and a nationwide information campaign in the spring 2008 followed. The Cultural Centers could on this basis prepare a written justification of their desire to support the establishment of a Project Station and participation in the overall process. 16 centers applied and a background group selected - on the basis of submitted motivations - 10 centers to be responsible for the establishment of new Project Stations.
At the same time as the first course moduls were provided and the Internet-based education for the new Project Stations started, a comprehensive information and PR package directed at the future local project makers was developed. Via the local Project Stations material was distributed throughout the country. This provided the background for the 10 local contests and 10 projects (out of approx. 100 project proposals received nationwide) were chosen.
Following the selection of the winning projects each of the local projects received a new laptop containing the Office package as well as subscriptions and access to network project toolkit and a database. Additionally, another 1500 € were made available to support the realization of the specific project. The Project Station was then in charge of the establishment of the physical workplace for the project with free access to office facilities and workshops. The Project Station further on helped with ongoing advice and guidance for the project.
The local projects
Following is a list of the 10 projects that won the local contests and the right to gain both knowledge and financial support. It may be added that as a result of the competition, most cultural centers had a small number of exciting projects of their own.
"Future multi-concert experience" at Skate City (Bispen) - Haderslev
Preparation of the an organizer manual for the settlement of multi-cultural event-concert experiences
The local project manager operates ?as project manager for the design of an entirely new culture in Haderslev named "Skate City" which has practitioners of skate, street culture and sports as a target group. As a consequence of the ongoing positive development of Skate City, the project has changed, and it is now working on a manual for user involvement via free Internet-based software that allows them to develop and plan their own productions and events in the future. The manual has been published in late 2009. (www.skatecity.dk)
"Aesthetics without Frontiers" in Kulturmaskinen - Odense
Establishing an open stage and a working art and cultural environment with the focus on design and aesthetics.
The project was a great success proved when it worked as a fulcrum for information and PR work in connection with the opening and inauguration of the cultural center, Kulturmaskinen, in Odense. (www.kulturmaskinen.dk).
"Creative Workshop" in Glumsø Kro - Glumsø
Establishment of open multi-functional and user-led workshop.
The project is still under development because it managed to raise 161.000 € which represents approx. 60% of the amount needed to achieve the rebuilding and refurbishment of the creative workshop. The project is expected to be realized in 2010 (www.glumsoe-kro.dk + www.rejseladen.dk).
"Cultural Agents" in Kulturhuset Islands Brygge - Copenhagen
Development of a knowledge-network and learning environment to support and develop innovative art and cultural activities.
The project has been completed with partial success in terms of organizing a small conference about the formation and development of a learning network for cultural workers. The project has led to the formation of the association Kulturagenterne.dk that remains active. (www.kulturagenter.dk).
"Jazz Ensemble North" in Huset in Hasseris - Ålborg
Establishment of a new regional modern jazz ensemble, Jazz Nord Ensemble, is a new initiative. It was established in 2008 with support from the Project Station. The mission statement is to let non-established musicians from the North of Jutland engage in professional cooperation with already established artists.
The project has been a great success and the ensemble - still active (www.jazznord.org) - has implemented numerous concerts throughout the country during 2008/2009.
"Dramatek" at Klaverfabrikken - Hillerød / Dramatek on Klaverfabrikken - Hillerød
The project made the extensive costume storage from Klaverfabrikken available for dramatized storytelling for children. One or more adult narrators ares involving costumed children and young people activly in the story. The project has been a success, and 2 months after the opening of the first "Dramateket" in September 2009 there was two completely sold-out weekly performances with the history of "Mutter Grib's Cave". The project will continue indefinitely. (www.klaverfabrikken.dk).
"Thisted Music Festival" in Plantagehuset - Thisted
Upcoming rock festival in Thisted, knowledge sharing and dissemination of know-how.
The festival (10 concerts) was implemented with success in the summer of 2008.
"The creative young" in Tobaksgården - Assens
Start of a theater school for children and youth in collaboration with cultural center Tobaksgården.
After some initial problems the project is now a success, and operates under the name Spektaklet (spectacle) - Assens Youth Scene for the second year. The project is established locally, and offers ongoing education for children and adolescents and the possibility of participation in at least one major annual theater production (www.spektaklet.info).
"Difference-likeness" in Trekanten - Aalborg Ø
All citizens in the district were invited to participate in an artistic event, in which life stories and experiences were written or painted on city roads, sidewalks and bike paths.
Status: Despite the failure to obtain permission from the Engineering and Environment Department to draw on trails and sidewalks, the project was implemented indoors and outdoors on Trekanten's area. In addition, booklets were published with a selection of stories and drawings, and at the end of the project, drawings and signs were given to the athletes?, sponsors and other interested persons, who would then get a part of the total work.
"Natural sounds in public spaces" in Kultur Vesterbro - Copenhagen
Outdoor and removable audio-show/installations in an artistic perspective, reflecting on the relationship between city and countryside.
The project was implemented as an outdoor installation / happening in Vesterbro Copenhagen in May 2009. The project is documented with film and pictures on www.facebook.com called Naturbia Sounds, and the participating artists are still active in the network.
Teaching, networking, knowledge and experience
The projects were implemented at different speeds, and most of the projects have after the settlementestablished themselves as an activity or a network.
However, it has always been the project's primary aim to strengthen the competences of the stationmaster and the cultural centers within project consultancy and the opportunities for citizens to gain support to develop their own artistic and cultural initiatives.
Teaching has been an important issue as well as networking, sharing knowledge and experience. The evaluation shows that the participants are very pleased with the teaching and the staff of the cultural centers uses the knowledge they have acquired in their daily work.
Furthermore the fact that training activities for both groups were organized simultaneously, gave all participants the opportunity to form networks and learn about each other.
Knowledge in the centers
Experiences from the project has continually been disseminated to other members of The National Society of Danish Cultural Centers as well as partners and others, partly through articles in the newspaper of the society and in Kultur.dk, published by National Association of Cultural Councils in Denmark and partly via the website of the society - www.kulturhusene.dk.
Moreover a conference with the theme "Knowledge in the centers" was held in May 2008. The conference referred to the culture center's ability to facilitate, not only with premises and physical tools, but with knowledge and expertise. Project stations were an important element in this conference where some of the stationmasters told about their projects and experiences of the overall project as a whole.
The National Society of Danish Cultural Centers had developed evaluation forms that were answered by the project stationmasters, and the society has received documentation from each project in terms of information, articles in local newspapers, pictures and more.
Conclusion and recommendations
As initially written, members of The National Society of Danish Cultural Centers are not just cultural centers in the traditional sense, they also facilitate initiatives and qualify the local artistic and cultural initiatives. The aim of the project - namely to strengthen the participants skills in this area - are fully achieved.
It is our impression that the work with the project stations has ingrained this way of working in most cultural centers. The process has also contributed to an understanding in the centers that the center's ability to meet user-driven projects and initiatives is a core function.
Educational programs for both project makers and the station controller were settled with great satisfaction among participants, and there were during the project implementation, as well as after project completion, a widespread desire for additional education / courses. In particular, it has been pointed out, that the coaching-related techniques have proven to be valuable in this work.
Economically, the 1500 € , granted to each of the local projects through development funds, in 8 of 10 cases have made the preconditions for project budgets many times larger than the grant, and several projects are operating with budgets much higher. The vast majority of projects have been completed with funds raised outside the cultural center via funds and sponsorships, and only rarely, using funds from the cultural center's own budgets.
We can conclude that the relatively small financial grants in conjunction with the targeted training activities and coordinated project consultancy have a very positive catalyst effect in the locally-rooted culture.
Overall, 8 out of 10 cultural centers desire or plan to continue to work on Project Stations. In the case where they do not wish to continue their activities, it is due to the lack of resources.
On this background The National Society of Danish Cultural Centers recommend that the already established project stations are supported in their continuing work through training and networking activities and - if possible - a centrally coordinated annual contest.
Meanwhile, The National Society of Danish Cultural Centers clearly recommend establishment of several Project Stations in the centers, in cooperation with existing ones. This could give individuals greater opportunity to actively participate in the development of locally based culture.