The Norwegian ministry of culture has announced that it will establish an art foundation and artist residency in Longyearbyen—one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas—which is located on an archipelago of four islands in the Artic Ocean called Svalbard, Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper reports.
The Art in Svalbard Foundation will be funded by the ministry of culture in partnership with Tromso’s Northern Norway Art Museum, the Office of Contemporary Art Norway, and the Queen Sonja Print Award. The initiative is part of the government’s strategy to revitalize the coal-mining town, which is facing bankruptcy.
Although the foundation and residency are still in the initial planning stages, there have been discussions about hosting three to five artists at a time. For Katya García-Antón, director of the Office of Contemporary Art Norway, the residencies are “experimental.” He said, “Artists won’t be expected to turn up, make a work and leave. There’s a strong wish that things become more rooted.”
Longyearbyen is located on Svalbard’s largest island, Spitsbergen. The population of 2,100 people endures tough environmental conditions including a period of four months when the sun doesn’t rise—dubbed “the polar night”—rapid changes in weather, and the threat of being outnumbered by polar bears.