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Queen Sonja on Svalbard to open a new art foundation

On Thursday, the Royal Standard of Norway was hoisted on Svalbard. Accompanied by the Norwegian Minister of Culture, Linda Hofstad Helleland, Her Majesty Queen Sonja opened a brand new arts foundation in Svalbard’s main town of Longyearbyen on Thursday evening. The foundation has been named “Artica Svalbard.” Arild Olsen, head of the local board on Svalbard, also participated in the official opening.

“A new place we can meet has now been created! I hope many artists in all art genres will have good working conditions and inspiring stays here – that both will come themselves, their community and, not least of all, for good,” said Her Majesty in here opening speech.

Longyearbyen City Centre. Photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wikimedia Commons.

Last time Queen Sonja visited Svalbard was in 2013 when she opened the exhibition, “Three Journeys – Three Landscapes” in the local gallery. In this exhibition, eight of the Queen’s own pictures were on display, much to the enthusiasm of the local residents who flocked to the gallery to see the Queen’s art. The Queen arrived at Svalbard Thursday morning and stayed through Friday morning. In addition to the official opening of the new foundation, the Queen also attended a dinner with the board of the new foundation.

Before the Queen left the Svalbard on Friday morning, she met survivors and people affected by the tragic avalanche accident that befell Svalbard in 2015, as well as the avalanche accident in February this year. This meeting took place in Svalbard Church. During the avalanche accident in 2015, two people lost their lives and large parts of Longyearbyen was destroyed.

Svalbard Church. The church was built in 1957 after the old one was burned down during World War II. Photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wikimedia Commons.

Artica Svalbard was established last year by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, together with the organisation “Freedom of Expression” and the Cultural Industry Foundation Sparebank1 Northern Norway, to facilitate arts and cultural activities in Svalbard and Northern Norway.

“I hope that cultural workers and artists from all fields will gather inspiration from Svalbard’s unique nature.

“Along with the private co-founders, we want to increase the international interest in Svalbard and northern areas of Norway and to contribute to the development of the Norwegian art scene,” says Culture Minister, Linda Hofstad Helleland.

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