Digital innovation linked to cultural heritage in Värmland, Sweden

17 February 2021 - Published by Anna Grude
With a long tradition of storytelling, Värmland is now connecting digital innovation with cultural heritage to explore new ways of keeping tradition alive and bring forth alternative ways of expressing and experiencing culture. - Learning from the process is key to create a good product, through CUPIDO we get the opportunity to try new things and explore digital innovations that we probably couldn’t do without the project, says Stefan Barkman from Region Värmland, one of the project partners.



Värmland County Administrative Board

Region Värmland

Sunne Municipality

Rottneros Park AB

 Read more about the pilot


In Värmland four project partners, Värmland County Administrative board, Sunne municipality, Rottneros Park and Region Värmland, are working together to strengthen the region and its cultural heritage by exploring new ways of telling the story of Värmland. The digital innovation testbeds have led to the forming of a digital Centre of Excellence in Värmland where digital innovations and new technology is being tested and explored with Region Värmland at its core. - We have experience in working with film making, but through CUPIDO we want to explore new technologies such as 360, AR and VR and then connect it to cultural institutions such as dance and theatres for example, says Stefan.

Several testbeds have been carried out, among them a multi streamed dance event that in a way became a streamed activity due to the corona pandemic. The result was a multi streamed, live, interactive event with a dance battle. An online jury and a graffiti artist performing live was also part of the event. All was streamed to multiple platforms, including the preparations. - We shared everything with the viewers since this was a testbed and meant for learning, many of us that was involved got much experience from this event that we can use going forward, it was not about making a success, but more about learning, says Stefan. - The testbeds have been crucial to learning and gather experience that will help us produce better next time, and for participants to get support in the start-up process.

A cultural institution – going online
Västanå Theater in Sunne municipality is famous for its theater shows during the summer months, when it became evident that the summer 2020 would not be like other summers and the show could not be performed with a live audience they made a decision to do an online event, promoting the show for next year. A live Facebook event with a film release as a teaser for next year’s show was planned to the day after midsummer, and despite some issues with the Facebook event it was handed a warm welcome with close to 40 000 viewers at Facebook and YouTube within days after its release.

- We were not sure how many we would reach through this but the result was great, a sold out summer we would have 30 000 visitors on site and this also gave us an opportunity to reach new target groups, not only our steady visitors, says Marjo Fjällsby head of marketing at Västanå Theatre.

- There was a hesitance within the organization towards going online before we tried this, but due to corona and with help from the project we took a chance and the experience is positive throughout the organization, Marjo explains.

- This gave us much experience and when we realized we would not be able to put up our Christmas show, it was an easy decision to do an online version instead. With the positive response from the testbed we were able to get sponsors to help fund the production, she says.

Sunne – a strong storytelling tradition
Not only Västanå theatre is part of Sunne’s cultural offerings. It also holds Rottneros Park, a unique sculpture park with an exciting combination of formal park areas, natural parkland and creative horticultural design. A rich cultural site with much potential to display the cultural heritage of Värmland. To get the park more accessible a number of added features have been discussed using new technology to add something extra to the visiting experience for young and old, new and regular visitors. To begin with, a new lighting will be installed in one part of the park to make visits possible after dark and during other seasons than the three summer months. Thereby extending the visiting season.

- We will install lighting with an artistic element to it, the lighting will give better access to the park and will also enhance buildings, plants and statues, while having an artistic design on itself, says Magnus Holmvik, project manager for Rottneros Park.

Extending the season will get more visitors and adding a value for the park, and there is also plans to add a Winter-market to their operations.

- Christmas in the Park will hopefully be an event with a market for local products and with cultural happenings taking place as well, says Magnus.

Sunne have also been working with developing their brand Sagolika Sunne to attract more visitors to their cultural sites. And storytelling is of course the way to do it. - By finding new ways of telling the stories of Sunne and adding new perspectives we are creating a desire to discover the tales of Sunne and hopefully attract more visitors. With more visitors there is a bigger potential for new businesses and local entrepreneurs that will have a positive impact on the regional development, says Åsa Gertling, project manager in Sunne.

Telling the story of Värmland by highlighting important cultural sites have also been done by the Värmland County Administrative Board who have produced a number of short films that can be used for promoting these sites for visitors and spread knowledge about the local cultural heritage.

- We have produced six films and are planning for another three during spring 2021, the idea is to tell the story about these sites and why they have been named places of national cultural interest, says Sara Bodin Olsson from VCAB.

The chosen sites represent different types of cultural values with a geographical spread in the region. Some sites are being developed by big companies and other is under the care of small non-profit organizations keeping culture and cultural heritage alive. Each site has much to tell and the films makes information and the stories behind more available for a bigger crowd.

- We want the films to be a part of developing these destinations and inspire others to think about how to promote their site and attract visitors. By letting entrepreneurs and stakeholders share how they are using these sites it also gives insight to how cultural heritage can be a resource for regional development, says Sara.

Transnational cooperation
Next up in CUPIDO for Värmland is amongst other things a transnational activity with Nome in Norway. It is the next step using experiences from earlier testbeds in Värmland. - We are planning this activity together with Sunne and Nome and we are calling it Light without borders, it will be an engaging and astonishing live/multimedia activity. We will do a 3D model mapping on the facade of a local building. Tell a story with a 360 degrees projection on the facade together with a live performance and dance choreography developed and performed by the local youth culture school of art in Nome and Sunne. We want to highlight local heritage and local stories and merge it with contemporary art, dance and animation, says Stefan from Region Värmland.

- We are also pursuing some other testbeds were digital innovations will meet cultural heritage, among them Game Creation connected to storytelling and cultural heritage, he finishes.