This is The Cultural Schoolbag

The Cultural Schoolbag (TCS) is a national programme that ensures that all school-age children in Norway are given the opportunity to experience professional art and culture each year. It is the only one of its kind in the world.

The programme gives pupils the opportunity to experience, become familiar with and develop an understanding of professional artistic and cultural expressions. The activities must be of professional quality and cover the entire cultural spectrum: film, cultural heritage, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts.

The Cultural Schoolbag has been part of the government’s culture policy for primary and lower secondary school students since 2001, while upper secondary school students were later incorporated into the programme. This means that all students currently experience professional art and culture through TCS, from first grade to the final grade of secondary school.

The Cultural Schoolbag is a collaboration between the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education and Research and all county councils and municipalities throughout the country. Kulturtanken – The Cultural Schoolbag in Norway was given national responsibility for the programme in 2016. In other words, TCS is a collaborative project between the cultural and education sectors on the national, regional and local levels and encompasses all schools in Norway. The county councils are responsible for regional coordination and programming, although the municipalities may also develop their own programmes.

Kulturtanken Arts for Young Audiences is the national organisation responsible for managing, quality assuring and developing the TCS programme. In addition to being responsible for the national coordination of quality development and collaboration within the programme, Kulturtanken also helps ensure that the activities are compatible with school curricula and the development of a joint understanding and involvement of the art, cultural and education sectors. Kulturtanken is responsible for distributing lottery funding (from profits earned by Norsk Tipping, the Norwegian state lottery operator), obtaining reports and preparing the national annual report for TCS. Kulturtanken does not have any decision-making authority regarding the local TCS programme. Read more about Kulturtanken – Arts for Yung Audiences here:

TCS productions
Promoters National, regional and local promoters offer TCS productions in the various counties and municipalities. National promoters like The Norwegian Network for Performing Arts (dance and theatre), the National Museum (visual arts) and the Norwegian Writers’ Center (literature) offer productions within their fields. They also work to ensure a high level of quality and offer competence-building measures to performers and promoters.

Various regional, local and independent promoters also produce content (programmes, performances and exhibitions) for TCS, such as film producers, local and regional theatres, orchestras and museums, as well as independent musicians, dance companies, theatre groups, authors and artists. TCS is the country’s largest ‘employer’ for artists.

Programme proposals

Professional artists and performers, producers and promoters of art and culture can present a proposal for The Cultural Schoolbag. Proposals are submitted in the TCS portal . The deadline is 1 October for the following school year.

The proposals received are assessed and considered for inclusion in the TCS programme. Producers and programmers in the counties and/or municipalities determine the final programme in partnership with local panels of experts.

More information for performers:

A programme proposal can be a new idea or, alternatively, a production that has already been produced and included in TCS elsewhere in the country.

In addition to a description of the proposal, you will be asked to designate the grade level you consider most suitable for the proposal, as well as the most relevant discipline(s). You can also define the proposal with sub-categories and display type. These help the TCS administrative organisations identify your proposal in programming work. If the proposal is included in the programme, the target group, disciplines and sub-categories may be adapted.

TCS administrative organisations are not required to assess all proposals submitted and are not able to provide reasons as to why certain proposals are not included in the programme. You will be notified by January as to whether your proposal will progress to the next assessment stage. If one or more administrative organisations is interested in your proposal, you will be contacted via the notification system in the proposal portal. You will also be sent an e-mail on this to the e-mail address you have provided.

Arena and format

A TCS production can be organised for a single class, grade or entire school. It may entail a presentation, meeting with an author, workshop, concert, promotional programme in a museum, etc. The arena may be the school – in the gymnasium, auditorium or classroom – or a concert hall, cinema, library or museum. TCS productions can be roughly divided into two categories: experience-oriented and workshop or participation-oriented. Many arrangements include both, such as a guided tour followed by a workshop. TCS is diverse in terms of form and content, but most TCS activities are organised during school hours.


“Participants in The Cultural Schoolbag programme organise activities for all children and young people in Norway. The goal is therefore to ensure that performers, productions and the programme as a whole reflect our diverse society and provide role models and examples that contribute to an inclusive and diverse community” (from the grant letter).

Quality definition

Kulturtanken is the national organisation responsible for TCS and for registering the quality definitions and selection process of the TCS administrative organisations. A report on this work can be found here. Some counties and municipalities use the ‘divining rod model’ for the selection process. Read more about this model here.

Interaction with schools

The TCS programme aims to interact with school curricula. This does not mean that the content is pedagogical in nature, but that TCS should be viewed in relation to the school’s general objectives regarding education, overall goals or benchmarks for subjects where relevant. There must be opportunity for preliminary or follow-up work, so that students can get the most out of the TCS programme. School management, cultural specialists, teachers and students are to be involved and included as central participants in the TCS programme.

The Cultural Schoolbag receives lottery funding from profits earned by Norsk Tipping. The total amount received in 2019 was NOK 285 million. Funding is allocated by Kulturtanken to the county councils and the so-called direct municipalities* based on a formula that takes into account geography, demographics and infrastructure.

Lottery funding is to be awarded to art and culture in TCS. Counties and municipalities are responsible for the local administration of the TCS programme and many provide extra funding for productions. As a result, total funding for TCS is much greater than the lottery funding alone. All funding recipients must report on the use of the funding.

*Some municipalities receive lottery funding directly from Kulturtanken instead of allocation through the county council. These municipalities have full responsibility for managing the programme and all administrative activities and are referred to as ‘direct municipalities’. There were eleven such municipalities in 2020. See a list of all direct municipalities here.

Artists and performers in The Cultural Schoolbag are paid in accordance with the industry standard and the copyright owner rights are protected in line with the Copyright Act. A framework agreement has also been signed between the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) and the Norwegian Musicians’ Union (MFO). Paid artists and performers who work for The Cultural Schoolbag are to be paid in accordance with this agreement.

TCS Governing principles
From White Paper no. 18 (2020-21) “Oppleve, skape, dele – Kunst og kultur for, med og av barn og unge”

The Cultural Schoolbag will:

  • be a free service for all children and young people in primary and secondary schools, and will be offered on a regular basis
  • ensure that children and young people are given equal access to professional art and cultural services of high quality, regardless of where they live, to help them understand and become familiar with a wide range of cultural expressions
  • contribute to the education and formation of children and young people, as stated in the core curriculum and subject curricula
  • disseminate cultural services that are viewed as relevant and that represent a culturally diverse range of services and practitioners
  • maintain a collaborative function for the cultural sector and the educational sector at all levels, to ensure the appropriate planning, embedding and facilitation
  • assist in strengthening the Norwegian language, Sami languages, minority languages in Norway, as well as Norwegian sign language as fundamental carriers of culture
  • assist in conveying arts and culture services to kindergarten children


Note – a previous White Paper about The Cultural Schoolbag  has been translated into English: “A Cultural Rucksack for the Future” White Paper  no. 8 (2007-2008)