LitFestBergen becomes independent foundation
Birthe Kåfjord Lange, who chairs the new board of trustees for the event, did not think she was in the target audience for literary festivals. That view has now changed completely.
As the Bergen International Literary Festival for Non-Fiction and Fiction becomes a separate foundation this month, a committed Kåfjord Lange is ready to exploit the opportunities which arise.
She sees some clear advantages from running this event independently from the Bergen House of Literature.
“It creates a big potential, for example, to reach a broader audience which extends beyond the normal attendance at literary festivals. We can now work purposefully on cultivating this wide group, while continuing to build on the other distinctive features of our own programme.”
Kåfjord Lange, who studied at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and is an associate professor of management at Kristiania University College, was surprised how rewarding she found it to attend LitFestBergen earlier this year.
“I love reading both fiction and non-fiction, but I’d never been to a literary festival before,” she admits. “Perhaps I thought I didn’t belong in the target audience. But I was wrong.
“The quality of the programme impressed me, and the discussions proved highly relevant for my own work and commitment to communication. And I thought – more people should have the chance to participate in this.”
The new foundation’s board of trustees is its highest authority. In addition to Kåfjord Lange, its members are Marta Breen, Arne Selvik, Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde and Gunnar Sørbø.
Their job will be to ensure that the festival is run in the best possible way. But they will not be responsible for the actual festival programme.
“Festival director Teresa Grøtan and her administration will still be in charge of the content,” Kåfjord Lange explains. “The new board will serve as a discussion partner when necessary, as well as contributing a broad range of other expertise.”
Creating the separate foundation means that LitFestBergen will be financially independent from the House of Literature – but the collaboration between them is by no means over.
The festival staff will continue to sit wall-to-wall with the people working for the House of Literature, sharing everything from coffee pot and biscuits to good ideas and proposals.
It has also been decided that one House of Literature trustee will always sit on the LitFestBergen board, precisely to ensure that the good cooperation continues.
“We’ll be supporting the festival in the same way we’ve done before,” says House of Literature general manager Kristin Helle-Valle.
“We’re few in number, those of us who work with literature and freedom of expression in Bergen, but we’re a strong body. We achieve progress collectively.”
Kåfjord Lange is also concerned to ensure continued good cooperation with the House of Literature: “As a new festival, it’s very valuable to have such experienced partners as these. We now comprise many able people, who’ll work together to strengthen the LitFestBergen.”