High Noon 2024: Northern Debate on Youth, Preparedness, Democracy and Moral in the Arts

For the third year in a row, the Arctic Arts Festival and High North News are cooperating to create debates with an artistic framing during the festival in Harstad, Northern Norway. The debate series High Noon is led by Arne O. Holm, Editor of HNN. (Photo: Astri Edvardsen)

Everything is set for the debate series High Noon during the Arctic Arts Festival in Northern Norway. This year's edition offers tunes from several young and up-and-coming artists – and various voices from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. Among the primary guests is the critically acclaimed Icelandic writer Jón Kalman Stefánsson.

Norsk versjon.

On Monday, the debate series High Noon starts as part of the Arctic Arts Festival in Harstad, Northern Norway.

Over the course of four days, topics such as child-rearing environments and resilience in the North, Nordic democracy, arts and moral, will be raised. 

Voices from arts and culture, research, politics, public agencies, and other parts of society will contribute with input. 

The debates will be led by Arne O. Holm, Editor of High North News. They can be followed from 11.30 AM at café Prandium on the campus of UiT, the Arctic University of Norway in Harstad, or streamed on HNN's website.

"This year's debate series during the Arctic Arts Festival takes the major challenges of our time seriously, seen from the High North and the Arctic. With participants from Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, we are facilitating an international dialogue on topics that are significant to us all, across country borders," says Holm and continues:

"In addition, we also offer world-class artists in each debate, placing us at the core of our journalistic mission. Combining arts and politics this way is only possible through a close and good cooperation between the Arctic Arts Festival and High North News."

Under High Noon inviterer redaktør Arne O. Holm utvalgte kunstnere til en innledende samtale i bobilen som strømmes til publikum. Her er han i møte med en av fjorårets hovedgjester, artist Pål Moddi Knutsen, som bød på gitarspill og tanker om det nye nord. (Foto: Astri Edvardsen)

During High Noon, Editor Arne O. Holm invites a selection of artists to an introductory conversation in a motor home which is streamed for the audience. Here he is, meeting one of last year's main guests, artist Pål Moddi Knutsen, who offered guitar playing and reflections on the new North. (Photo: Astri Edvardsen)

Contribution to a broader discussion

"High Noon is an important part of the Arctic Arts Festival program. This event series puts art in the context of everything from major international developments, such as the geopolitical, to the local issues in our daily lives," says festival director Ragnheiður Skúladóttir.

Ragnheiður Skúladóttir, Director of the Arctic Arts Festival.

Festspilldirektør Ragnheiður Skúladóttir. (Foto: Privat)

Ragnheiður Skúladóttir, Director of the Arctic Arts Festival.

"When we started the High Noon cooperation in 2022, it was with a vision to revitalize the debate concept. Each debate has artistry as its basis to highlight a wider societal debate that concerns us here in the North," she adds. 

The primary guests from both the visual and the literary arts are presented below, together with the panelists.

All of the debates include a musical element. There will be an indie pop interpretation of the well-known late Norwegian singer-songwriter Lillebjørn Lillebjørn Nilsen, yoik in the face of Nordic jazz, slam poetry, and bass clarinet tunes.

It all takes place within a jubilee framework: This year, the Arctic Arts Festival celebrates 60 years as an institution for the development of the arts and culture field in Northern Norway.

Keywords and lineup

This will be discussed, and these will contribute throughout the week:

Monday 24.06: Formative conditions in the North – outsiderness and violence in youth culture

Across the Nordic region, an increasing number of young people are leaving their roots in the North and moving southward. This is spreading, not least to Norway, and creates significant societal challenges.

At the same time, local communities that do now fulfill the young people's dreams are depleted. How will we face these challenges?

  • Primary guest: Rebekka Brox Liabø, pedagogue, dramatist and author.
  • Panel: Luna Drecker, leader of the Tromsø Youth Council; Martin Gamst Johansen, the previous leader of the Barents Regional Youth Council; Yngve Myrvoll, intelligence, preparedness, and investigation leader in Troms police district; Dag Rune Olsen, Rector at UiT.
  • Musical element by Thea Glenton Raknes, artist and songwriter.

Tuesday 25.06: Resilience in the North – are we prepared for what is in store?

Due to climate change, the Arctic is getting warmer, and the natural forces we experience are more violent and invasive. At the same time, our world is troubled, and there is war in Europe.

Are we ready to take action to increase our preparedness and resilience in the face of an unpredictable future? What does that entail, and how will it affect our lives?

  • Primary guest: Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Icelandic author.
  • Panel: Brigadier Terje Bruøygard, Commander of Brigade Nord, the Norwegian Army; Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, professor at UiT; Aslat Simma, reindeer husbandry practitioner, Karesuando; Sigríður Hagalín Björnsdóttir, Icelandic journalist and author.
  • Musical element by Sondre Närva Pettersen, the Norwegian-Sami-Kven musician and composer.

Wednesday 26.06: Nordic democracy under pressure?

The Nordic countries are all at the top of the the Economist Democracy Index. But what is putting the most democratic countries in the world to the test?

Much of our Nordic identity is tied to trust in our democracies. Is this trust about to be challenged?

  • Primary guest: Amund Sjølie Sveen, political and artistic leader of Nordting.
  • Panel: Sanna-Kaisa Saloranta, project coordinator at Sitra; Baard Herman Borge, professor at UiT; and Roald Linaker, defense Ombudsman and politician.
  • Musical element by Ingvild Aust, slam poet and verse rapper.

Thursday 27.06: Artists as moral compasses

The folk rock band Gåte won this year's Melodi Grand Prix in Norway. In light of Israel's occupation of Palestine, they had to make a choice whether or not to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden.

What are the artists' responsibilities in such a situation, and what are our expectations for them?

  • Main guest: Magnus Børmark, Gåte guitarist.
  • Panel: Bente Andersen, artistic leader of the Samovar Theater; Herman 'Manne' Rundberg, musician and composer; Lisa Hoen, Director of the Tromsø International Film Festival; Håvard Lund, musician and composer.
  • Musical element by Lund.

Flashback to High Noon 2023: