From Bilbao to Bodø: how cultural flagships are transforming local cultural life

In recent years, we have seen large investments in spectacular buildings hosting cultural institutions, with the dual aim of facilitating culture and generating economic growth. This article raises the question of whether the investments have shifted the priorities of cultural policy, and sets out to investigate the effect of the establishment of 52 culture houses in Norwegian municipalities using panel data and a difference-in-difference approach. The results confirm an increased prioritization of the sector in the years following the opening of the culture houses, indicated by a large increase in the municipal expenses for culture. The results further support that there has been a shift in priority, as there seems to be a stronger support for professional arts and a lower support for activities directed toward amateur organizations and children/youth. There are also strong indications of growth in “new” arenas of art and culture, indicated by a significant increase in the number of cinema displays and theater performances, in addition to a significant growth of jobs  related to art and entertainment.

Keywords: Local cultural sector · Cultural facilities · Flagships · Cultural amenities · Norway

DOI: 10.1007/s10824-021-09436-1


Hanna Nyborg Storm




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