From #bristustilling summer 2021 with Alier Ajak Woui and Jibril Lateef at Sukkerbiten summer 2020.

The city council turned around on Fotografihuset

When the Oslo budget for 2021 was adopted on Wednesday 9th of December the Oslo city council turned around and raised the operating subsidy to NOK 400,000. This means that Fotografihuset can continue operations into 2021.

– We are very happy that the Labor Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Green Party changed at the last minute and got Rødt to increase their support for Fotografihuset. This means that the city council and the city council stand firm on the decision from 2015 to work to get a photography house in Oslo. Says Jonas Ekeberg, artistic and general manager of Fotografihuset.

Jonas Ekeberg and Ingrid Eggen during a tour of Eggen's exhibition Knex, Knax, Knoxs, Virvx and Handl in summer 2020. Photo: Fotografihuset.

The city council had originally proposed to cut the support to Fotografihuset by 70%, from NOK 500,000 in 2020 to NOK 150,000 in 2021. It could lead to a complete halt to the project, which aims to create an international photography center in Oslo with broad appeal. Now Ekeberg and the rest of the administration can continue planning the program at Sukkerbiten in the summer of 2021.

– It will be an exciting and ambitious program with a number of exhibitions, as well as lectures twice a week. We will also have a broad communication program with photography courses for young people and adults. Our dream is that the exhibition pavilion at Sukkerbiten will become an informal and inspiring meeting place for the photography community and the rest of Oslo’s population in the summer of 2021, says Ekeberg.

– However, the operating grant in 2021 will be 20% lower than in 2020, and a full 50% lower than in 2018 and 2019. That means we have a knife to our throat. During 2021, we must show Oslo’s politicians and the rest of the city what Fotografihuset will become. We will do that both by presenting a fantastic pilot program and by refreshing the vision of the future Fotografihuset, says Ekeberg.

Fotografihuset was established in 2014 as a collaboration between the joint organization FotoNorge and Stiftelsen SE. In 2018, Fotografihuset entered into a collaboration agreement with HAV Eiendom AS to develop the house at Sukkerbiten in Bjørvika, and in 2019 Atelier Oslo won the architectural competition with the project “Trelett”. The same autumn, the city council in Oslo decided to investigate the possibility of re-regulating the Sukkerbiten into a free area. The city council’s investigation is promised at the beginning of 2021, and may mean that Fotografihuset will have to find a new site or a new suitable building.

– What we want is to bring Oslo municipality, the state and private supporters with us on an operating model that is sustainable in this challenging period, until the location is clarified. We then need a ramp-up plan until we open, hopefully within five years. Both parts depend on the photography community, the politicians and the business world seeing what a fantastic addition to the cultural life in Oslo and Norway the Fotografihuset will be. The operating grant from the city council means that we can use 2021 to get that message across, says Ekeberg.

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