The Cultural Schoolbag (TCS) is a national programme designed to ensure that all school pupils in Norway experience professional art and culture of all kinds. The Cultural Schoolbag is a collaborative project between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Research. In 2016 Kulturtanken (previously Concerts Norway) was given national responsibility for the scheme.

The programme aims to give pupils and schools the chance to experience, become familiar with and develop an understanding of all kinds of professional artistic and cultural output. The activities offered, which must be of a high quality, cover the whole cultural spectrum:

  • Performing arts
  • Visual art
  • Music
  • Film
  • Literature
  • Cultural heritage

The Cultural Schoolbag has been part of the government’s culture policy for children at primary and lower secondary school since 2001, and more recently it has been expanded to cover sixth-form students. This means that all pupils – from years 1 to 10 of compulsory education, and from years 1 to 3 of sixth-form – are covered by the programme.

Organisational structure
The Cultural Schoolbag is a collaborative project involving the culture and education sectors at a national, regional and local level, which covers all schools in Norway. County councils are responsible for regional coordination, but municipalities may also develop their own programmes. The implementation of the programme varies a great deal from region to region and place to place.

Kulturtanken is the national body responsible for managing, quality assuring and developing the programme at the national level, as well as for distributing lottery funding. You can read Kulturtanken’s mandate here: Mandate for the new national body that will run The Cultural Schoolbag

The Cultural Schoolbag receives lottery funding allocated by the Ministry of Culture. The total amount it received in 2015 was NOK 210 million. The funds are made available after the Norsk Tipping – the Norwegian state lottery operator – has distributed its profits in spring.

Funds are allocated by the Ministry of Culture to the county councils (from 2017 onwards funding will go via Kulturtanken), based on a formula that takes into account geography, demographics and infrastructure. A third of the funding goes directly to the municipalities, a third is managed by the county councils and the final third can be freely distributed by the county council.

In some counties there are also big municipalities that receive their whole share without it going via the county council. These are known as direct municipalities, or 100% municipalities. These municipalities have chosen to take full responsibility for managing the programme. Examples include Alta, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger and Ås.

All lottery funding is supposed to go to art and culture, and it may not be used for administrative purposes. Counties and municipalities therefore cover the cost of administering the programme themselves, as well as providing additional funding for art and culture in many cases. The total amount invested in The Cultural Schoolbag is therefore much greater than the lottery funding alone.

Touring with The Cultural Schoolbag
Anyone who wants to do a tour through The Cultural Schoolbag must apply to a county council or one of the direct municipalities. Some of them have allocated funds for production, so they can produce their own artistic and cultural output. Others simply buy in services.

Who is responsible for the content?
There are national, regional and local content producers who are used when counties and municipalities book programmes for TCS. High quality programmes can be booked through national organisations, such as the Norwegian Touring Network for the Performing Arts (dance and theatre), the National Museum (visual arts) and the Norwegian Writers’ Centre (literature), within their respective fields. These organisations also perform quality assurance and provide training courses for performers and presenters taking part in TCS.

They are many regional and local groups that produce content (programmes, performances, exhibitions) for The Cultural Schoolbag, including film producers, local theatres, orchestras and museums, as well as independent musicians, theatre companies, writers and so on. In addition, some county councils and municipalities have their own funds for producing content for TCS.

Booking and programming takes place through the TCS administration in each individual county or so-called 100% municipality.



The goals of The Cultural Schoolbag are:

  • To help ensure that school pupils are given the chance to experience professional art and culture
  • To make it easier for school pupils to experience, become familiar with and develop an understanding of all forms of artistic and cultural output
  • To help ensure that artistic and cultural output become a fully integrated element of how schools achieve curricular goals

Governing principles:
The Cultural Schoolbag shall be designed and constantly evaluated based on a set of governing principles:

  • A permanent programme: The Cultural Schoolbag shall be a permanent programme for school pupils.
  • For all pupils: The Cultural Schoolbag shall cater to all pupils in primary and secondary school, regardless of the school they go to and their financial, social, ethnic and religious background.
  • Helping to achieve curricular goals: The artistic and cultural content of The Cultural Schoolbag shall help to achieve the education system’s goals as expressed in the general section of the curriculum and in the various syllabuses.
  • High quality: Pupils shall experience professional artistic and cultural output of a high artistic quality.
  • Cultural diversity: The Cultural Schoolbag shall include a variety of forms of art and culture rooted in different cultures and from varying eras.
  • Breadth: Music, performing arts, visual art, film, literature and cultural heritage shall all be represented in The Cultural Schoolbag. They shall also be presented in a variety of ways.
  • Regularity: Pupils in all school years shall have access to regular activities.
  • Bringing culture and schools together: The Cultural Schoolbag shall promote good cooperation between the culture and education sectors at all levels. The programme must be properly integrated into the education system, and schools must have sufficient time for planning.
  • Areas of responsibility: Schools are responsible for giving the programme an educational framework, while the culture sector is responsible for the cultural content of The Cultural Schoolbag and for notifying what the content will be well in advance.
  • Local adaptation and ownership: The Cultural Schoolbag must be adapted to local considerations – in the individual school, municipality and county. This will help to generate enthusiasm locally and means that you can have many local variations on a theme, giving everyone a sense of ownership of the programme.

Find out more in White Paper no. 8 (2007-2008): “A Cultural Schoolbag for the Future”