Make Sentralbadet a House for the Stage Arts in Bergen Now

The cultural city of Bergen has developed greatly and been actively nurtured for at least two decades now. However, in recent years there has been some reason for concern and the situation is deteriorating for the stage arts in particular .

BIT Teatergarasjen has been without a proper venue for nine years now, since 2008. Two years from now Carte Blanche - The Norwegian National Company of Contemporary Dance - will be homeless as well, and lack the facilities to produce and show performances in their hometown. This is a serious situation, not only for the local art community in Bergen, but also nationaly.

The Bergen art scene is characterized by interdisciplinary thinking, with extensive cooperation in all directions - between all forms of art and between larger and smaller organisations. It is this spirit of cooperation that makes Bergen an interesting and active cultural city. BIT Teatergarasjen holds a key role with respect to interdisciplinary arts in Bergen. Theatre and dance is by nature multi-medial, and relates to contemporary visual arts as well as contemporary and experimental music. Since BIT Teatergarasjen suffers poor working conditions, it also has a negative impact for all of the art scene of the city.

The impact is also being felt far outside Bergen. BIT Teatergarasjen, together with Black Box in Oslo and Avant Garden in Trondheim, are the main venues for contemporary stage art in Norway. BIT Teatergarasjen is therefore of greatest importance to many theatre and dance ensembles throughout the country. With its large international network BIT Teatergarasjen serves an important role in exporting Norwegian performing arts abroad. It is imperative for contemporary theatre and dance throughout Norway that BIT Teatergarasjen is enabled to do this job well.

Carte Blanche is Norway's national contemporary dance company and has the foremost responsibility to develop and disseminate contemporary dance. It is a national governmental obligation to ensure suitable working conditions for the company.

The City of Bergen and the regional Hordaland County Council understand the urgency of the current situation, and have started the planning process of how Sentralbadet (the former city senter swimming pool) can be developed into a new performing arts centre. In order for this to happen state funding is a prerequisite.

It is therefore disappointing that no commitments are made in the government's national budget proposal for 2017. We urge the Parliament to rectify this immediately so that the situation will be clarified before Christmas. Otherwise the opportunity to develop Sentralbadet into a house for the performing arts may slip, resulting in a major setback for contemporary arts in Bergen and Norway.


Contact and initiative:

Trond Lossius, FOU-koordinator
BEK – Bergen senter for elektronisk kunst
C. Sundtsgt. 55
5004 Bergen
+47 95922613