To Norways Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, from Alexander Sjursæther, a Cultural Representative working in the Norwegian Pavilion in Epcot 2010-2011.
The Norwegian Pavilion was opened the 3th of June 1988, brand new and shiny, but since the official Norway and government abandoned the pavilion in the 90s, the pavilion has fallen completly in the hands of Walt Disney World. Its a little piece of Norway, a little piece of faded Norway that will remain a showcase about our country to over 6 million people every year. Something needs to be done… Now.
I have read a lot about the pavilions history and know a lot about the exitment and enthusiasm that existed when Norway got its own pavilion in World Showcase in Epcot. It was the courage and vigor of a lot of individuals and good economical times that gave little Norway a place with the rest of the world, we cant just give it up.
Ive been in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and they told me that there was no plans for Norway at the current time to do anything with the pavilion from the governments side. I also know that the Ministry of Industry just turned down a request to support the pavilion, this was exactly how is was in 1984 as well, the ministries would not support anything, it had to be taken hand of by the government officials. Therefore, I strongly urge you to do something and change the course of where this pavilion is heading.
Since Norway stopped the 200.000$ contribution in 2002, against all recommendations, no one knows what will happen to it, and we have nothing to say about it anymore.
In 1998 it was estimated that the Norwegian Pavilion gave Norway about 15% tourist increase from USA. Even though a lot of companies and government have left the pavilion, some still remains, Geir Ness for example sells a lot of his products in the pavilion and is often there himself to promote his products and Norway, which is particular for his product Laila. The total sales amount for Norwegian companies in the pavilion should be over 40 million NOK every year.
Every year, over 150 Norwegian youths get to work in the pavilion and for Walt Disney World, one year in USA working for one of the worlds largest companies, this is a valueable experience for all youths accepted into the program, Norway as a business-nation should also appriciate the work, experience and training these great youths get while theyre on their Cultural Representative Program. If Norway had more control or did anything for the pavilion, we would have more influence on who was actually representing out country and we could do a better following up program for the Norwegian Cast Members.
When the pavilion was sold to Disney in 1992 for 26 million dollars, Norway lost somewhat control over the pavilion, but the government and the Norsk Eksportråd managed to make an agreement so that the Norwegian profile would still dominate the pavilion. This agreement however was only valid for 10 years, and I believe that this has a connection with the annual contribution of 200.000$ the government gave to Walt Disney World.
I would like to thank some of the most important persons and companies that contributed to the realisation of the Norwegian Pavilion: Lars A. Christiansen, Erik Sande, Knut Kloster Sr, Paul Lødøen, Arne Mansåker, King Harald of Norway, Henrich Nissen-Lie, Gunnar Jerman, Klosters Rederi AS, Selmer-Sande AS, Den norske Creditbank, Vesta Gruppen AS, AS Norcem, AS Kosmos, Det norske Veritas, Norsk Data AS, Frionor Norsk Frossenfisk AL, Norway Foods Ltd. AS… If Norway still had spirits like these individuals and companies, things would be a lot easier.
We dont have the same enthusiasm today as we did back in the 80s for the Norwegian Pavilion, which is very sad with the impression guests gets from visiting the showcase. Ofcourse, its nothing like the 80s work that has to be done to get Norway back on track again, its just some courage and finances that needs to be in order. Personally I would like for official Norway to buy back the pavilion, but if the government agrees with Walt Disney World and finance/contributes the pavilion like nearly all the other countries does, we will definitely have something to say about the operation. This is for sure, since after Norway stopped contributions in 2002, the Information shack was shut down and the Akershus was filled with princesses and became a storybook dining.
The Norwegian Pavilion needs an update, Walt Disney World have tried getting Norway in on updating the movie Ive read, thats really something that should be done, as well as the ride should been modernised and updated. But Norway has said no, because its not so likely that people from USA will have the money to visit Norway. I would like to remind the government and PM that we use many million NOK every year on posters and other adverting tricks for for example German camping tourists, if it is so much easier for Germans to come camp in Norway, it should be a goal to get Americans and all other nations that visits Epcot to come to Norway as well when they visit Germany, there is also a lot of Germans visiting Epcot. And one estimate shows that the pavilion increased the visits from USA with 15%. Anyway, if thats the only real reason the government wont contribute, its sad, the Norwegian Pavilion will stay in Epcot for many years (I hope, even though Ive heard rumors about cutting us out under the finance crisis) and the pavilion will remain a showcase about Norway to all of the over 6 million guests who visits our pavilion every year…
Its also very weird that Norway gave 150 million NOK to the Expo in Shanghai, a pavilion that had way fewer visitors and only lasted six months. I would like for you to come visit the pavilion yourself and see what we really are showing the world about Norway, I can get you admission for free.
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