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Stavanger 2008: From Norwegian Oil Capital to European Capital of Culture


Stavanger 2008

Dear All,

I hope you like the information about the research on Stavanger as ECoC in 2008 in the latest issue of the UNEECC newsletter.
I would just like to inform you that the easiest way to obtain more information about our research is

Click the "English version" on the right hand side, not the Union Jack.

Kind regards

Hilmar Rommetvedt
Forskningsleder / Head of Research (political science), International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS)
Professor II, Universitetet i Stavanger / Adjunct Professor, University of Stavanger

IRIS, P.O. Box 8046, N-4068 Stavanger, Norway
Tel.: (+47) 51 87 51 09 (direct)  -  (+47) 51 87 50 00  -  Fax: (+47) 51 87 52 00  -  Mobile: (+47) 41 25 28 17  -  Home: (+47) 51 69 71 68
E-mail:        Internet:



When the petroleum industry was established in Norway in the 1960’s, Stavanger became the Norwegian “oil capital”. In 2008 the Stavanger region, together with Liverpool, is European Capital of Culture. The board of the Stavanger2008 organisation has decided to support a major research project in order to analyse effects of the events. This is carried out by IRIS and the University of Stavanger (UiS).

Beliefs in Culture as an Instrument for Regional Development: the case of Stavanger, European Capital of Culture 2008

The Norwegian production of petroleum has peaked and in a not too distant future, the Norwegian ‘oil capital’ Stavanger has to meet the challenge of a declining petroleum industry. The bid for the status as European Capital of Culture in 2008 was one of the initiatives taken by local authorities in order to make the Stavanger region more attractive for new businesses and highly skilled employees. The bid reflected a belief in culture is as an important instrument for regional development. This article throws light on the question of how widespread the belief in culture was among the citizens as well as leading politicians, civil servants and business managers in the Stavanger region prior to the year as European Capital of Culture. It was presented at ERSA 2008: Culture, Cohesion and Competitiveness: Regional Perspectives  48th Congress of the European Regional Science Association in Liverpool, 27. – 31. august 2008

The Stavanger2008 vision is expressed through the concept “Open Port”. This can be understood both in its English sense – “an open harbour”, - and in its Norwegian meaning of “an open gate”.
Open Port – Openness towards the world. The region and its people shall be even more open and inclusive towards each other, art, ideas and opportunities.
More important still are the associations ensuring from the concept, such as tolerance, freedom of speech, hospitality, history, development, innovation and quality.
Through its work on Stavanger2008 the wider Stavanger area will appear as a region which is open and including towards new impulses, foreign expressions and new citizens.
Culturally, the region will appear as a melting pot which, based on our own traditions and history, as well as impulses from the whole world, reshapes these into expressions and activities that will form our present and our future through the tools of openness and creativity.

Research Questions, Principal Study and Sub-projects:
The Stavanger2008 project includes a principal study based on surveys among the citizens of the region. The principal study will analyse the following main questions:
To which extent and in what manner do the inhabitants of the region get involved in the cultural events that are initiated and carried out in connection with the Capital of Culture?
How are the beliefs and attitudes of the population affected by the Capital of Culture events and the vision and values of Stavanger2008?
How does the Capital of Culture year affect participation in and attitudes towards cultural life in general?
The first survey among the citizens was completed in the autumn 2007. 2303 persons were interviewed on telephone and 1301 of them completed an additional postal questionnaire  A follow up survey will be carried through in 2009.

In addition two sub-projects were carried out:
A study of the media coverage of Stavanger’s year as Capital of Culture
A study of the effects on cultural institutions and assessments among artists and organisers of cultural events

Contact person: Hilmar Rommetvedt




I perioden 2011 - 2014 skal IRIS i samarbeid med UiS og UiB gjøre en studie av betydningen av de raske sosiale endringene som har preget Stavanger. Prosjektet har fått den engelske tittelen "Rapid social change, value transformation and the field of culture. The city of Stavanger as a prism." Prosjektet finansieres av Forskningsrådets program for fri prosjektstøtte. Forskningsprosjektet bygger bl.a. på studien av Stavanger som europeisk kulturhovedstad i 2008.


Resultatene fra et stort forskningsprosjektet viser at holdningene til kulturlivet har ikke endret seg som følge av at Stavanger-regionen var europeisk kulturhovedstad i 2008. Det forhindrer ikke folk flest i å være enige i at kulturhovedstadsåret var en riktig satsing.

I forbindelse med at Stavanger-regionen var europeisk kulturhovedstad i 2008, har IRIS gjennomført et større forskningsprosjekt sammen med Universitetet i Stavanger (UiS). Prosjektet har bestått av en hovedstudie og to spesialstudier. Resultatene fra hovedstudien om innbyggernes opplevelse, og en spesialstudie om kulturaktørenes vurderinger av Stavanger2008 er nå klare.

Resultatene ble lagt fram onsdag 23. september på et Kulturdialog-arrangement i regi av Stavanger kommune. Rapportene har siden også blitt presentert for kulturutvalget.

Last ned rapportene her:
Stavanger-regionen som europeisk kulturhovedstad - slik kulturaktørene ser det (IRIS rapport 2009/199 - pdf)

Stavanger-regionen som europeisk kulturhovedstad - slik innbyggerne ser det (IRIS rapport 2009/203 – pdf)

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