Annual Artist Salaries Allocated for 2023

The Ministry of Education and Culture’s annual Artist Salary allocations were announced on Friday. RÚV reports that 236 artists across six disciplines were awarded salaries for periods of two to twelve months. This represents but a fraction of the 1,083 applications—from 972 individuals and 111 performing arts groups—that were received.

See Also: Icelandic Government Raises Artist Salaries

Salaries are awarded for periods of two to twelve months. At the beginning of the year, Minister of Tourism, Trade, and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir announced that funding of artists salaries would increase with individual monthly stipends being raised to ISK 428,000 [$3,330, €2,908] per month during 2022. In the coming year, the monthly stipend will increase to ISK 507,500 [$3,551; €3,354].

Both well-known and emerging artists are among those awarded salaries this year. Those who received a full year’s salary include (but are not limited to) designer Hanna Dís Whitehead, visual artists Anna Rún Tryggvadóttir and Sæmundur Þór Helgason, actor Arnar Jónsson, saxophonist Óskar Guðjónsson, and composer Viktor Orri Árnason.

Writers’ salaries

Allocations for writers’ salaries are always a hot topic of debate and conversation, not least because this discipline has the most allocations. This year, a total of 555 months’ salaries were allocated to writers. (The next largest number of allocations, or 435 months total, was made to visual artists; a total of 50 months were allocated to designers, 190 months were allocated to both theatrical performers and composers, and 180 to musicians.)

A full year’s salary was allocated to twelve authors, many of whom are available to English-language readers: Auður Jónsdóttir (author of Quake, trans. Meg Matich); Gerður Kristný (author of Bloodhoof and Drápa, both translated by Rory McTurk); Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir (The Creator; trans. Sarah Bowen); Hallgrímur Helgason (Woman at 1000 Degrees; trans. Brian FitzGibbon; A Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning); Jón Kalman Stefánsson (Heaven and Hell; Summer Light and Then Comes Night, both translated by Philip Roughton); Kristín Ómarsdóttir (Swanfolk, trans. Vala Thorodds; Children in Reindeer Woods trans. Lytton Smith); and Steinar Bragi (The Ice Lands, Trans. Lorenza García; The Haunting of Reykjavík).

Other authors familiar to English-language readers also received funding for the coming year. Andri Snær Magnason (On Time and Water, trans. Lytton Smith), Bragi Ólafsson (The Ambassador, trans. Lytton Smith), Einar Már Guðmundsson (Angels of the Universe, trans. Bernard Scudder), Kristín Eiríksdóttir (A Fist or a Heart, trans. Larissa Kyzer); and Oddný Eir (Land of Love and Ruins, trans. Philip Roughton) were all among those receiving nine-month salaries.

Culture Minister Continues Legal Battle Over Hiring of Male Staffer

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir

Iceland’s Minister of Education and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir will continue a legal battle to nullify a ruling that she broke gender equality laws in the hiring of a permanent secretary to her ministry in 2019. The ruling was issued by the Equality Complains Committee in May 2020. Lilja filed a case against the complainant in the Reykjavík District Court last year in an unsuccessful attempt to nullify the ruling. She will now take the case to the Court of Appeal.

In November 2019, the Ministry of Education and Culture announced that Páll Magnússon had been hired as the ministry’s permanent secretary. Páll was then a secretary for the Municipality of Kópavogur and a fellow party member of Lilja’s for the Progressive Party. The Ministry had selected Páll out of 13 applicants, four of which had been interviewed for the position.

Hired Based on Gender, Committee Ruled

Hafdís Helga Ólafsdóttir, secretary-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, was among the rejected applicants for the position. After requesting and receiving the relevant documents concerning the hiring process from the Ministry, she decided to refer the matter to the Equality Complains Committee, who ruled in her favour in May 2020. The Committee ruled that Hafdís Helga’s education and experience had been undervalued whereas Páll’s had been overvalued in the hiring process. The Committee’s evaluation was that it had not been possible to show that Páll was hired for reasons other than his gender and therefore Lilja had broken the Gender Equality Act by hiring him.

State Initiates Personal Court Case

The Equality Complaints Committee’s decisions are meant to be binding and thus cannot be appealed directly. In June 2020, however, Lilja announced she was starting a court case against Hafdís Helga in the name of the Icelandic state with the goal of nullifying the ruling. The decision was based on a legal assessment that Lilja has refused to make public. While Lilja is not the first minister whom the Committee has ruled to have broken the Gender Equality Act, she is the first to not accept such a ruling and sue an individual in the name of the state. Last Friday, the Reykjavík District Court ruled to uphold the Equality Complaints Committee’s ruling and ordered the state to pay Hafdís Helga’s legal fees of ISK 4.5 million ($35,000/€30,000).

Lilja stated that the decision to take the case to the Court of Appeal was “not easy,” but had been made based on legal advice. When asked by reporters whether her decision would prevent women from seeking redress in the future for discriminatory hiring decisions, she stated she does not believe so. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has stated that the matter is entirely under Lilja’s jurisdiction.

Iceland Had Third-Highest Spending on Culture in Europe

Design March Fetival 2019 Hönnunarmars

Around 2.5% of Iceland’s total general government expenditure in 2018 went toward cultural services. Iceland’s government spending on culture was the third-highest in Europe that year, surpassed only by Hungary (2.7%) and Latvia (2.8%). Nearly one third of this funding went toward culture workers’ salaries, though it also supported museums, theatres, broadcasting, and publishing.

hagstofan culural expenditure

Municipal Budgets Devote More to Culture than State

Culture funding has remained at similar levels in the past 10 years, ranging between 2.2% and 2.6% of general expenditure. A larger proportion of municipal government spending went to culture than state spending in 2018. While municipal governments devoted 4.7% of their general expenditure toward culture that year, the state proportion was 1.5%.

When both municipal and state spending is considered, 31% of all culture spending went toward compensation of employees. The largest proportion, 42%, went toward the use of goods and services, including purchases and expert services from non-employees. The third-largest portion, 12%, went toward subsidies, which include Artists’ Salaries.

Higher Spending on Broadcasting

When it comes to broadcasting, 0.5% of Iceland’s total general government expenditure went toward broadcasting and publishing services, above the EU-27 average of 0.4%. This figure has remained similar since 2009, though it reached 0.8% in 2015.

The data was published yesterday by Statistics Iceland as part of the institution’s work towards increasing the visibility of statistics regarding culture and media.

Author Visits Promote Literary Engagement Among Students

A new program launched by the Icelandic Literature Center will send prominent authors to visit upper secondary schools to meet students and discuss their books with them. Per a press release issued by the Center, these author visits are intended to encourage students to read as well as increase their understanding of what a writer actually does.

Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð, Menntaskólinn við Sund, Tækniskólinn, and Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík are the four upper secondary schools that will be taking part in the initiative this spring. Each school chose one author to visit their campus, namely: Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, Kristín Helga Gunnarsdóttir, Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, and Sigríður Hagalín. Each author will hold a reading during their visit and then take part in a discussion with students. In preparation, students will read at least one pre-selected book by their guest so as to be able to ask questions and offer their own reflections on the text.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Icelandic Literature Center and both the Icelandic Writer’s Union and the Society of Icelandic Principals and is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture.

If all goes well, four new schools will be chosen to take part in the author visit program for the coming fall semester and potentially even more schools in semesters after that.


Paid Internships for Student Teachers

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is one of the people nominated for Person of the Year.

Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir introduced new measures today in accordance with the government’s policy statement on education, RÚV reports. This means that come next fall, master students in their final year of teaching studies for elementary school and kindergarten will get paid for their internship. They will also be able to apply for a study grant, with the government planning to spend up to 250 million ISK on the study grants alone. Furthermore, the University of Iceland and the University of Akureyri will both receive grants to increase the number of teachers who specialise in job-related guidance

The ministry is also looking into possibilities to support students in other teaching fields, such as would-be high-school-, music- and art teachers, as well as looking into how to further stimulate the growth of teacher numbers, for example through the Icelandic Student Loan Fund, LÍN.

According to a press release by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, only 28% of those workings in kindergartens now are certified teachers. Around 1.800 positions need to be filled in order to fulfil legal obligations of the proportions of educated teachers in kindergartens in the country.

Numbers of elementary school and kindergarten teacher students reduced by 40% between 2008 and 2018. The measures of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture are designed to change this development. At the current rate, however, elementary schools will need to fill around 1.200 teaching positions with unschooled teachers in four years, meaning that their percentage would rise from 8.6% in 2017 to 25%.