Interview with Sven Birkeland
Interview with Sven Birkeland

The concept of the curator has become in recent years more and more influential. But while it has been heavily discussed, criticized and theorized within the visual arts, the function of the programmer, producer, curator in theperforming arts remains strangely undebated. Even though programming in dance, theatre, performance has undergone fundamental changes over the last decades there are barely any writings that reflect on its specific role in art production, reception and market.

Therefore, apap decided to put more focus on the curators involved in the network and entice a discussion about their views on the role of contemporary performance in art, society and economy.

We are starting with a short Q&A with Sven Åge Birkeland, artistic director of BIT Teatergarasjen, the dance biannual Oktoberdans and the theatre biannual Meteor.


As a performing arts curator, what do you feel the role of contemporary performance is nowadays in art, society and economy?
The function as a humanistic and artistic hub within society is more and more important and plays an important role in shaping our future. It`s efforts are - and increasingly will be - visible within sectors far outside the cultural sector and the impact will be huge also in e.g. politics and economy. Our plans for engaging a bigger community and far more people, includes collaborations with the civil society surrounding us and this will be of huge importance for days and years to come. Contemporary performance? The place to be.  

How does the context of Oktoberdans festival produce an added value?
Oktoberdans - and every second year the Meteor-festival - produce added value far beyond art, culture, economy and tourism, actually we detect a change in public rhetoric when it comes to art, politics and culture in general; we have earned a more central place in the public debate and need to address these new possibilities given on a daily basis. Our art- and discursive programs are the basis for such a development. 

How do you feel audiences should engage with contemporary performance? 
The invitation is broad and it`s no correct answer to such a question, but: come in, get involved, get angry, happy, reflect with us, give a bid for a better future… we`ll share it all. And most important; have fun together with us!


Sven Åge Birkeland is the artistic director of BIT Teatergarasjen, the dance biannual Oktoberdans and the theatre biannual Meteor. Birkeland also curates art programs for festivals (Malta Festival, Poznan 2010), theatres (The Norwegian National Theatre, Oslo 2010-2011), museums (Norwegian National Museum of Art, Oslo 2005) and galleries in Norway and abroad. Birkeland is engaged in art politics on a local and national level and is functioning as an artistic and strategic advisor for several companies and institutions. He has been on stage with (among others) Baktruppen and PME/Jacob Wren and occasionally writes articles someone is stupid enough to publish. Before working within the art field he did studies at the University of Stavanger (culture, film and sociology) and the University of Bergen (theatre science). He lives and works from his base in Bergen, Norway.