The Joint Working Group on Culture (JWGC)

Cross-border regional cooperation in the field of culture is an integral part of the Barents cooperation. The cooperation was initiated in 1993, when the first meeting of cultural ministers was held in Kirkenes and the Barents Cultural Committee was set up. In 2001 the Committee became the Barents Regional Working Group on Culture under the aegis of the Barents Regional Council (BRC) and in 2007 it was replaced by a Joint Working Group on Culture (JWGC), which works under the aegis of the Barents Europe Arctic Council (BEAC) and the BRC. The new mandate consolidates the status of culture in the Barents cooperation structures and engages governments more closely in the cooperation. The JWGC has representatives from all 13 Barents regions. In addition to the regional cultural administrations, the JWGC has the representation of the Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and Swedish ministries responsible for culture and of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples.

The aim of the JWGC is to strengthen Barents cultural identities, multicultural dialogue and cultural ties between the countries and the regions. The development of cultural life serves the social and economic development in the barents Euro-Arctic Region. The means to this end include multilateral and bilateral projects. In order to develop better skills and knowledge, the JWGC encourage new networks, exchange of best practices and information on cultural cooperation.

Barents cooperation celebrated its 20-th Anniversary in 2013. In the line with the overall vision of the multilateral cooperation formulated in the "Barents Programme 2014-2018", the Strategy "Cultural Cooperation in the Barents Region 2014-2018" outlines the vision, mission and priorities of policy planning and regional cooperation in the sphere of culture.

The Strategy highlights the importance of capacity building and exchange, facilitating and promoting networking, creating different kinds of new cultural meeting places, focusing on the strong relationship between culture and cultural and creative industries, creating new international opportunities for strengthening the competitiveness of the cultural operators in the Barents Region.

The Strategy encourages the development of contacts and synergies with other relevant structures such as the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC), the Senior Officials Group on Culture of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and others.

The Strategy has been derived from the experience gained in the implementation of the previous programmes. 

"New Horizons in the Barents Region" (2011-2013) was the third Cultural Programme since the Barents cooperation in the field of culture stared in 1993. It highlights the importance of further strengthen cultural cooperation and its impact on regional, social and economic development in the Barents Region. The aim is to promote cultural diversity, multicultural dialogue and to create new cultural meeting places.  

The second programme of Cultural Cooperation 2008-2010 "New Winds in the Barents Region" was the framework for inter-regional cultural cooperation in the region. It highlighted cultural diversity and the importance of culture and cultural industry as a unique tool for the development of the region. The overall objective of the Programme was to further strengthen cultural cooperation and thus increase the impact of culture in the Barents Region.  

The first Programme "Voices in the Barents Region" was implemented in the period of 2003-2006. 

The Members of the Joint Working Group on Culture (JWGC)

The JWGC consists of members from regional and national (federal) competent authorities in each participating country and a representative of the Indigenous Peoples Working Group.  



Helena Aaltonen (co-chair)
Regional Development Specialist
Regional Council of Kainuu
Tel: +358 447100854 

Maija Lummepuro
Counsellor for Cultural Affairs
Ministry of Education and Culture

Tel: +358 295330198, +358 400800218

Tomi Aho
Special Adviser, Arts Promotion Centre, Lapland
Tel: +358 295330850

Auli  Suorsa
Regional planner
Council of Oulu Region
Tel: +358 503868443

Ilpo Tapaninen
Regional planner
Council of Oulu Region
Tel: +358 503017546

Ulla Lassila
Special Adviser
Art Promotion Centre, Oulu
Tel: +35 8295330860


Olga Andonieva (co-chair)
Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Tel: +7 4956294394

Alina Ivashchenko
Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Tel: +7 4956291010

Veronika Yanichek
Minister of Culture of the Arkhangelsk Region
Tel: +7 8182286369, +7 9212980366

Anna Tomchik
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Karelia
Tel: +7 8142785507

Anastasia Prokudina
Minister of Culture of the Republic of Komi 
Tel.: +7 8212287560

Sergey Ershov 
Murmansk Regional Administration


Sverre Miøen
Senior adviser
Ministry of Culture
Tel: +47 22248013

Reidun Laura Andreassen 
Finnmark County Council 
Tel. +47 78963006  

Bjørg Helene Jenssen 
Director of Culture, environment and public health 
Nordland County Council
Tel: +47 95867220 

Ellen Østgård
Director of Culture
Troms County Council
Tel. +47 77788224, +47 91324339


David Ek
Ministry of Culture
Tel: +46 84053897

Eva Jonsson 
Norrbotten County Council
Tel. +46 705498062 

Ingela Gotthardsson
Head of Cultural Affairs  
Region Västerbotten 
Tel.: +46 707880524  

Pia Brinkfeldt  
Region Västerbotten 
Tel: +46 705165745 

Representative of Indigenous Peoples Working Group (WGIP)

Valentina Zganich
Member of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples 
Tel: +8 8185342046, +8 9115829585

Internship at the International Barents Secretariat

The International Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes, Norway, now welcomes internship applications for spring 2017. Application deadline is 25 November. Interested?

Read more


During two missions, in 2007 and 2012, Swedish journalist Tom Juslin traveled through the Nordic countries to find out how climate change affects people, animals and nature - "Climate Journey" opens the planned series of exhibitions in in Kirkenes

Read more