Public funding in Norway is founded on a belief that even the most sparsely populated and remote regions of the country deserve the quality of life enjoyed in Oslo — including culture and art. So a small city like Kristiansand feels entitled to put itself on the cultural map, and thought it was important enough to sell off energy assets to make that happen.
With towns throughout the country so eager to host festivals, it’s fair to count them as a significant source of income for Norway’s improvising musicians. Norway has more than 400 music festivals, and 20 jazz festivals alone, offering substantial performing opportunities. This is in a country with a population of just less than 5 million — roughly the population of Alabama. It’s no surprise that more than 20 percent of Norwegians attend a music festival each year: They can’t help running into at least one.
Norway pays to export its art and culture. The country’s pride in its improvised music means international jazz tours have a reasonably high rate of funding: In 2013’s first application round for overseas touring support, nearly a third of the jazz requests were granted. Subsidized touring often helps Norwegian musicians play career-boosting gigs at foreign venues that can’t or won’t cover their accommodation and travel expenses.
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