– Moral bankruptcy – VG

CRITICISM AGAINST SUPPORT: Many people react to the fact that Kurt Nilsen’s Christmas tour gets such an extensive piece of taxpayers’ money. Photo: Frode Hansen

The allocation of over 13 million to Kurt Nilsen’s Christmas tour upsets large parts of Kultur-Norge. The Minister of Culture, the Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Council are now accused of favoring the big fish in the industry.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the Ministry of Culture’s newly opened stimulus scheme for the cultural sector has distributed its first kroner.

By far the biggest recipient: Kurt Nilsen and his 26 concerts long Christmas tour, which is sponsored with 13.3 million from a pot of half a billion, which the Norwegian Cultural Council manages.

Billionaire and hotel giant Petter Stordalen is the largest owner of the companies behind the tour.

Power salver

The award has aroused great debate and not so little outrage in comment fields and online discussion forums.

Industry people at most levels have become involved, including a number of artists.

One of them is Hans Kristian Raabe (59), known under the artist name Hasse Farmen. He has released five solo albums, often to rave reviews, played in bands with Stein Torleif Bjella and among other things worked with members from Dumdum Boys and DeLillos.

In a post on the closed group Bransja Prat, he fires a series of power salvos at the Nilsen award.

He believes, among other things, that Minister of Culture Abid Raja is concerned with promoting the great artists.

“With this incentive scheme for the major players, the public Norwegian culture, the Ministry of Culture and unfortunately also the Cultural Council have finally played themselves completely bankrupt and said to the small fish in the cultural aquarium: – It is our responsibility to give Kurt Nilsen a million salary for Christmas! Goodbye, solidarity! », He writes.

– Stunning earnings

Hasse Farmen also wonders why the incentive scheme has not been means-tested, and is surprised that players who usually make big money should be compensated as is the case in Kurt Nilsen’s case now.

CRITICAL: Hate the Farm. Photo: Gitte Johannessen / NTB

«Previous years’ staggering earnings are indifferent to the Cultural Council’s administration – 40,000 tickets sold each year in the case of Kurt Nilsen – (Eidsvåg and the Christmas tree artists also have salt for Christmas ribs). If one can only refer to large enough staff, large audiences and large little else, then there is clearly enough “need” for a Cultural Council to believe that millionaires should be “stimulated” as if it were a “normal” year, “he writes, continues:

I know that neo-liberalism has not been in vogue in the last 40 years, but does the Cultural Council not make any demands for “frugality” and “stomach goals”? Is it just socialism for the big ones, expensive capitalism for the small ones? ”He asks.

VG has tried to get Hasse Farmen to speak.

– Insane

A heavy sigh over the 13-million award also comes from author and journalist Jan Zahl, brother of guitarist Geir Zahl in Kaizers Orchestra.

“Is it a public responsibility to give Kurt Nilsen a million salary for Christmas?”, Zahl asks in the headline of a comment in Stavanger Aftenblad.

He points out, among other things, that each Christmas concert with Nilsen is supported with an average of 510,000 kroner, ie around 2,500 per ticket purchased.

“Does this enormous amount mean that the joke one has nervously told others in cultural life since Raja launched the scheme is actually true? That one can arrange a kind of intimate concert for 200 pieces in Oslo Spektrum – and then the state pays for the last 6800 seats? The crazy thing is that the answer to that question seems to be “yes”, writes Zahl.

CRITICAL: Jan Zahl (right), here with his brother Geir Zahl in Kaizers Orchestra – a band whose biography Jan Zahl wrote in 2006. Photo: Trond Sørås

Zahl compares the Nilsen tour with other applicants who have received money from the stimulation scheme and are going on a Christmas tour.

Bjørn Eidsvåg has received three million, and will play 40 concerts.

The concept «Christmas night», with Wenche Myhre, Jørn Hoel and Emil Solli-Tangen, has received 3.4 million. They have to play 47 concerts.

Nevertheless, the fee and salary item on the Nilsen tour (for everyone involved) is estimated at 6.7 million – against just over two million for Eidsvåg and 3.7 million for “Christmas night”.

In addition, Nilsen’s production costs and fixed expenses are more than twice as large as Eidsvåg’s.

“How the fee is distributed is not specified in the application, but my wild tip is that neither the drummer nor the bassist in Nilsen’s band will return home from the Christmas tour as millionaires,” comments Zahl.

Minister of Culture: Wrong basis

Minister of Culture Abid Raja believes that people react on the wrong basis when it comes to covering 6800 empty seats in Oslo Spektrum.

He reminds that this is a stimulus scheme, not a compensation scheme.

– You get money to carry out the event, ie what the costs of the event are, you do not get to cover the difference between sold tickets and available seats, Raja says to VG.

– Why is the stimulus scheme not means-tested?

– The Cultural Council also makes an overall assessment of the costs. The entire grant from the scheme does not go straight into the artist’s pocket, but lubricates the machinery throughout the cultural sector, says the Minister.

– This means that concert venues, sound, lighting, rig, management, crew and so on, will be paid when cultural people now have to travel around and perform.

The incentive scheme allows the grant recipients a three percent operating margin.

In Nilsen’s case, this means that the company Tune-In, partly owned by himself, manager Jan Fredrik Karlsen and Petter Stordalen, can count on a profit of NOK 467,225 from the tour – which then comes on top of calculated fees.

Abid Raja says that the operating margin is allowed to get the cultural sector in its great breadth going again, and to get organizers to take risks.

– When culture-Norway gets off to a good start again, this will strengthen the liquidity and finances for the individual organizers, lubricate the industry and provide a stimulus for further activity.

The Minister of Culture says that it is not a goal for him to squeeze the participants in an event on salary and fees.

– But the Cultural Council shall reduce the grant if the net cost in the application appears to be disproportionate.

– Takes a mistake

Hasse Farmen’s statement that Raja’s ministry is a “moral bankruptcy” and takes responsibility for giving Kurt Nilsen a million salary, the minister dismisses as follows:

– Hasse Farmen is wrong. That is 500 million in the scheme until the new year. And from the New Year until the summer, there are over a billion more in the scheme. That Kurt Nilsen’s 26 concerts across the country have received 13 million in support is little to get excited about.

Raja points out that Nilsen, as far as he knows, has never applied for support for his Christmas concerts.

– Now they get support due to government-imposed infection restrictions. I want to thank Kurt Nilsen for going on tour to create a Christmas atmosphere all over the country. I hope more, both small and large players, do as he does and apply for the stimulation scheme.

Promises to control

Kristin Danielsen, director of the Norwegian Cultural Council, tells VG that there is now an entire value chain in the cultural sector that receives much-needed funds.

– This applies, for example, to musicians who would otherwise be without income, equipment suppliers and landlords. It is a prerequisite that an operating loss is budgeted before the grant to receive support. The scheme will thus cover the difference between actual expenses and income.

The director says that the cultural council is concerned that no one should be able to inflate the expenditure side of the budget.

– What is important for us is that the application is in proportion to what one can expect in a normal year. We also do a follow-up check on all events where we go through accounts and reports.

ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SCHEME: Kristin Danielsen, director of the Norwegian Cultural Council. Photo: Line Møller

The Culture Council’s top manager further says that they are aware that many subcontractors are struggling now.

– Therefore, it is an important point that they also benefit from this scheme even if it is not their name that is on the application.

– What restrictions are placed on what the artist and apparatus around can charge in fees and salaries from tours and concerts that are supported by the stimulation scheme?

– Our starting point is that the artists should be remunerated according to what one can expect in a normal year. When we receive the accounts for inspection, we look at whether the total sum of salaries and fees seems reasonable. But we do not enter into individual agreements.

– What criteria do you follow in relation to what seems reasonable?

– We have said that it should be planned that all links should have a market price.

Danielsen emphasizes that even small actors receive support from the cultural council.

– In the shadow of Kurt Nilsen, we have in recent days also given funds to the chamber folk trio Slagr, a humor gala in Voss and a revue from Fredrikstadguttane. In addition, all our regular schemes run as normal. So here it is just to apply.

“Significantly lower” fees

Kurt Nilsen’s manager Jan Fredrik Karlsen praises the stimulation scheme as a groundbreaking work, and says he is happy that the debate around makes visible what a large apparatus is required to carry out large concerts and tours.

There are 17 of us on the road, but we have calculated that there are around five hundred people who are involved in creating these Christmas concerts.

– What can you say about the fees for this tour?

– They are significantly lower than on the previous tours.

Karlsen says that the criticism of the award does not come as a surprise to him, but that it is partly based on a lack of insight.

He also reminds that the entire cultural industry, even the most commercial that he represents, is now in the same boat as a result of Covid-19.

– It is important to emphasize that the 13.3 million goes to everyone involved in the tour – it is not Kurt Nilsen as an artist who gets the money, it is the entire business chain and apparatus that is needed to carry out what is Norway’s largest Christmas tour.

Published: 30.10.20 at 20:20

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