In the 1970s, Kristiansand, along with other cities, was offered a regional theater. Cities such as Tromsø, Molde and Skien accepted the offer and received theaters with large state subsidies. Kristiansand, on the other hand, declined. We were satisfied with the amateur theater we already had, and did not want a radical theater environment in the city. Since then, however, much has happened in the cultural field in Kristiansand, and in 1991 Agder Teater was established after all. A few years later, it was given the status of a regional theater with state subsidies.
In connection with the city's 350th anniversary in 1991, two cultural projects were also carried out that would prove provocative to many Kristiansand residents, generating loud protests and much debate.
Under the auspices of the Sørlandet Art Center, a group of Nordic artists staged the exhibition "Sculpture in Nature" on the idyllic island of Bragdøya in Byfjorden, sparking an unprecedented outcry. Angry southerners went on a rampage, vandalizing the art and posting hateful comments in the newspaper. Opinions are divided on the project's significance for posterity, but it marked a clear divide in terms of citizens' engagement with art, artists and art criticism.
Around the same time, the precursor to the Quartfestivalen was held at Torvet. A rock festival in a city that already only had the Church Festival. The festival was a dramatic turning point, and put Kristiansand on the music map for young people, from the early 90s and for many years to come. As a brand, and with both world stars and scandals on stage, Quarten created a cultural revolution in Kristiansand. Again, the consequence was much debate, criticism and great attention.
Today, Kristiansand is a festival city, with a number of small and large festivals throughout the year. The Punktfestivalen came in 2005, and is at a high international level in modern, improvised music. The more than 20-year-old Children's Film Festival is Norway's largest cultural event targeting children and young people. The current flagship, however, is Palmesus, the annual beach party that initially drew 3,000 people and now sells out over 30,000 tickets a year in advance.
A city of culture must have some central institutions. Ten years after the regional theater was in place, our professional chamber orchestra was merged with the divisional music from the Armed Forces into a full-fledged symphony orchestra. Today, these are united in one organization, under one roof, in Kilden Theatre and Concert Hall. The spectacular building opened in 2012 and is the country's second largest cultural building. Kilden Teater (formerly Agder Teater), Kilden Opera, Kilden Kultur and Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra together form one of the Nordic region's most exciting environments for professional performing arts and music. And the audiences are flocking in; in the first five years there were over 1 million visitors.
Sørlandets Kunstmuseum was established in 1995, moved into new premises in the center of Kristiansand five years later, and is the region's museum for arts and crafts. Soon the shovel will be put in the ground on the site next to Kilden to build a new art museum that will also house the largest private collection of modernist art in the Nordic region.
The museum of the year in Norway in 2003 was Agder Nature Museum and Botanical Garden. After several years of investigation, the museum was transformed into a university museum in 2017, in line with the other natural history museums in Norway. The Museum of the Year in Norway in 2016 was the cultural history museum Vest-Agder Museum, which is based in Kristiansand.
Christianssands kunstforening was founded in 1881 and has since had the goal of stimulating art life in the Kristiansand region and contributing to increased understanding and interest among the public through exhibitions and dissemination. Since 2012, the name Kristiansand Kunsthall has been used for the modern art hall where innovative art at national and international level is given space.
When the municipality of Kristiansand sold its shares in Agder Energi in the early 2000s, the municipality's energy utility foundation Cultiva was established to ensure that the municipality's funds would benefit the citizens and serve them in the long term. Cultiva shall "support projects for the establishment of art, culture and knowledge institutions, or organizations that contribute to innovation, development and competence building in creative environments in Kristiansand". The foundation's funds have been of great importance for the realization of several central cultural buildings and arenas, it contributes to the development of art and culture as an industry in Kristiansand, and also contributed to the development of a University of Agder. Cultiva has been important in establishing several of the competence centers in the region.
These centres of expertise or network organizations have been important for the professionalization of art and cultural life in the city. In the 1970s, the visual artists themselves took the initiative to establish a formal competence center, which today is called Agder Art Center. There has long been a need for similar centers in other areas, and today we have five strong competence centers in our city:
The competence centers provide advice and guidance, some of them have grant schemes, they act as a link between actors, industry, business and authorities. This has stimulated the professional communities, allowing them to grow and make their presence felt in the city.
The University of Agder has a Faculty of Arts. This includes visual and performing arts, classical and rhythmic music, and music education. In the field of rhythmic music, education is even provided up to doctoral level. The availability of university education in these areas is of great importance in building broad, professional artistic communities. It attracts performers to the city, and the interaction that arises between the students and the surroundings contributes to students choosing to stay in Kristiansand after completing their studies.
Facilitating art and culture is largely a matter of being able to provide venues and premises at an affordable price. In 2006, the city council decided that the buildings in the old military camp on Odderøya just outside the city center "can be used for culture-based activities as long as the municipality finds it useful."The result today is nearly 100 lease agreements with art and cultural actors who have offices, studios, ateliers and workshops on the island.
Odderøya is also where we built the Theater and Concert Hall. There is the grain silo that will be converted into a Nordic art museum, and a stone's throw away is the site of the new building for the Museum of Cultural History. "A creative city with ambitions" simply aims to create an art and culture center of European dimensions.
Sender: The Mayor of Kristiansand