The Minister of Culture’s opening for more audiences is met with laughter from several cultural leaders: – This is just surrealistic nonsense, says the head of Oslo Concert Hall.
Minister of State Anette Trettebergstuen announced on Thursday night that it will be open to 1,500 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors, at events with fixed seats.
The change will take effect on Friday at 12 noon.
– The increase in the number limit is a big step in the right direction and will mean a lot to organizers, audiences and performers, writes the Minister of Culture and Gender Equality.
But it is the small print that is creating rage in the industry.
First, only 50 percent of the seating capacity can be utilized. And then the audience will be divided into cohorts of 200.
The CEO of Oslo Konserthus and Røverstaden describes how the cultural agency’s event office in Oslo in November envisioned the practice:
– These cohorts will be let in and out in separate groups. Each cohort must have its own toilet facilities and changing rooms. There should be two meters between each cohort at all times.
– What does that mean for you?
– I do not know of any major cultural arenas in Norway that have enough separate toilet areas. So we are back to 200, exactly the same as today, says Roll.
Today, there can be up to 200 participants in public events indoors, if there are permanent designated places. And 600 outdoors.
Musical arranger Atle Halstensen says straight out that he is furious.
– They have created a set of criteria that makes it in principle a status quo. It’s all a joke, a game of numbers.
Halstensen is co-owner and artistically responsible for Stage Evenings, a privately owned stage production company that produces all-night musicals at the Folketeatret in Oslo.
– Nine out of ten halls have exactly the same limitation as before. There are only two places that can accept 1500 with these criteria, and that is Oslo Spektrum and Telenor Arena.
Halstensen says that enough is enough.
– It is a mockery of the industry that has endured the most during the entire pandemic and tacitly agreed to bear the burden of all the measures that have been put in place. No support schemes are operational, we are abandoned by the Minister of Culture, and she celebrates as if it were a victory.
Jørgen Roll also does not put his fingers in the middle and is upset that no one with organizing competence has been included in the assessments.
– Unfortunately, this does not help us at all. It just all night, a cultural-political scandal.
New professional advice
The change in the rules comes shortly after the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Occupational Health published new professional advice.
They recommended exactly what the government is introducing. The professional basis was delivered to the Ministry of Health and Care Services on 18 January.
NIPH considers that the proposed increase may help to increase the risk of infection somewhat, but they still believe that it is justifiable and proportionate.
Can not take advantage of the change
Director of the Grieg Hall in Bergen Olav Munch is not happy with the change.
– We can not take advantage of this because the Grieg Hall must be divided into cohorts. We have a maximum of three cohorts with 200 people in each. This means that we can only utilize a third of our capacity, Munch says Bergens Tidende.
Munch had hoped that they could fill up 50 percent of the Grieg Hall.
In the Grieg Hall, there is room for 1,600 seated spectators.
– We have large foyers and people can use face masks. It would not have been a problem to keep your distance, says Munch.
– Not where we should be
Leader for Active Culture and Experiences Rhiannon Hovden Edwards writes to VG that this is an important place in the right direction.
She is happy that the Minister of Culture is following up on the promise to open up more to cultural life, but calls for further relief.
“We are not yet where we should be, where cultural life has the same rules as shops, bowling and bingo, so we expect further relief when the government comes up with new assessments,” says Edwards.
A positive voice is the chair of the board at Det Norske Teatret, Nina Refseth.
– Now we get the opportunity to get the cultural life up and running again, Refseth says to VG.
She is critical of the fact that, in her opinion, the authorities have systematically waited until the end to consider reopening cultural events.
– It means that you struggle to see the intrinsic value of culture. So this is very gratifying. I hope this is the last time we see the really strict restrictions.
New assessment in February
At the beginning of February, the government will make a new assessment of the infection control measures.
– Then I hope that we can open more, both for events with and without fixed allocated places, says Minister of Culture Anette Trettebergstuen.