Models for Cross-border Cooperation


Musicians perform the live score to a silent film on a blue carpeted theatre stage. On the theatre screen in front of them is a person wearing a headscarf and carrying a bundle over their shoulder.


The Norwegian Barents Secretariat strongly condemns Russia’s unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine.

The Barents cooperation was established as a peace project in 1993, after 45 years of cold war. The foundation of the Barents cooperation has always been people-to-people contact. The goal of the Barents cooperation is to remove cultural barriers and to build artistic bridges across borders. During almost 30 years, we have gone from closed borders to close ties between people in the Barents Region. The cooperation between people from all areas of society, such as schools, municipalities, NGOs and cultural institutions, and the so-called people-to people-perspective, is an important keystone. Through meetings between people in the region we break down barriers and increase our mutual understanding. 

Unfortunately, people-to-people cross-border cooperation in the North has long been constrained due to the increasingly authoritarian regime in Russia. The situation for civil society is now extremely difficult, and the uncertainty arising from Russia’s military attacks makes effective cross-border cooperation even more challenging. Unfortunately, the impacts of this will be felt at the local level, particularly by people living in the North. 

In this spotlight, the Norwegian Barents Secretariat focuses on the positive and successful cooperation between artists and cultural institutions that normally takes place across the Norwegian-Russian border. 

While the Norwegian Barents Secretariat stands behind the Norwegian government’s demand that Russia immediately cease its military operations and seek a peaceful solution, we will continue to support people-to-people cooperation and contact. In the current situation we have suspended contact and cooperation with official Russian entities, but encourage contact and cooperation with independent Russian artists and organizations.

Arctic Artist Books & Samizdat
An Arctic network project in the field of writing and publishing.

Building Neighbourhoods
On supporting cooperation, culture and competence in the Barents region.

Muohtadivggažat / The Sound of Snow
A multilingual performance by Ferske Scener.

Open Out Festival in Tromsø
A meeting place for non-mainstream voices.

Samovarteateret (the Samovar Theatre)
The world’s northernmost professional theatre; on the border between East and West.

Stellaris DansTeater
This border-crossing theatre company is 40 years old—and still going strong.

Tromsø International Film Festival
A leading film festival brings light to the polar night.

A Visit to Teriberka, Accompanied by Komafest
A cross-border project documents one woman’s shifting relationship to her homelands.

Each week, the Arctic Arts Summit Digital Platform spotlights an important region of the circumpolar North or organization working to support Arctic artists and their practices. Spotlights are an exciting introduction to the variety of perspectives across the circumpolar world and we invite you to learn more across the platform.