The 1970s were a stimulating and creative period for the Norwegian cultural sphere in general, and especially for the performing arts. From 1970 to 1980 the state established five regional theatres and, at the same time, the first independent companies were started by enthusiastic young artists who were influenced by the more avant-garde forms of contemporary theatre in Europe, especially in Eastern Europe and in Germany. Today the independent companies are a popular component of the theatre sphere in Norway. These companies represent a wide range of performing arts including theatre, dance, ambient and physical theatre, children’s theatre, storytelling, new circus, puppetry and contemporary opera. Many of these companies regularly frequent stages at home and abroad, and several, such as the Jo Strømgren Company, Baktruppen, and Grenland Friteater, have achieved international acclaim.
In 1977 the Danse- og Teatersentrum (National Association of Performing Arts) was founded in order to promote the interests of the independent artists and their companies. The association has also assumed responsibility for the Norsk scenekunstbruket (national touring network for the performing arts) in Norway, which sends the productions of the independent companies on tour throughout most of the country. The national touring network is a distributing network, selecting high quality productions that are then acquired by regional and local presenters. The national touring network is subsidized by the state, and currently encompasses 16 of Norway’s 19 counties. A national initiative for professional art and culture in education in Norway, Den kulturelle skolesekken (the Cultural Rucksack scheme) has been established to ensure that children in primary and lower secondary schools have access to high-quality art and cultural expression of all kinds on an annual basis. In this context, the national touring network will assume an increasingly important role in bringing the professional performing arts sphere out to the children.
The Senter for Dansekunst (Norwegian Center for the Art of Dance) was established in 1994 by the Norsk Ballettforbund (Norwegian Association for Dancers, Choreographers and Dance Teachers), and is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs. The centre works to promote the art of dance in general, by providing information about dance to the media and the public.