Three-year pilot project of Aurora Design Fund and Kraumur Music Fund concludes


Since its establishment in 2007, Aurora Foundation’s aim has been to support musicians and designers in Iceland. To serve that goal the Kraumur music fund and Aurora Design Fund were kick-started in 2008 and 2009 and they have supported several projects costing in total about  315 million ISK. Aurora Design Fund was established in order to support outstanding designers who were able to present a comprehensive business concept and a clear vision for the future. During its seven years of operation, the fund has provided 175 million ISK to 70 projects and individual designers, as well as co-funding several design projects with grants ranging from 250 thousand to 5 million ISK.

Kraumur Music Fund provided Icelandic musicians with 140 million ISK, in its eight years of operation. The main goal was to reinforce the Icelandic music scene, primarily by supporting young musicians in creating outreach and marketing opportunities for themselves. Through the Kraumur initiative, around 100 musicians received grants ranging from 300 thousand to 4 million ISK, and numerous individual music-related events, courses, and workshops have been supported.

For the process of annually selecting grantees from a number of artists, designers and projects, the Aurora Design Fund and Kraumur Music Fund each had a committee of 12 experts from the relevant fields.

Both Funds were originally established as a three-year pilot project. The intention was for Aurora Foundation to act as their sole donator during the three-year period, during which new grantors would come in as contributing benefactors. Both funds got supported by Aurora for longer than the initial period, and towards the last few years, the board of each fund looked into bringing in other donors. In the end, the boards of both funds came to the conclusion that the basis for running the funds with new donors could not be secured. It was therefore decided, that the operation of both funds would be discontinued.

The reason for the funds not being able to secure other donors may lie in the widely accepted belief, that seems to be predominant in Iceland, that support to the fields of art and design should come from the public, rather than the private, sectors. Whilst Aurora Foundation agrees in the notion that the public sector should secure the basis for arts and design to thrive, we are also of the opinion that the private sector has a certain duty in sustaining the creative fields of art and design. The combined support of the public, private and individual spheres would be ideal, resulting in an interesting dialogue between all those involved.

Aurora Fund was established in 2007, by philanthropist couple Ingibjörg Kristjánsdóttir, landscape architect, and her husband, businessman, and financier Ólafur Ólafsson. At the time, it was unforeseen how widespread and influential the work of Aurora Design Fund and Kraumur Music Fund would become.

The influence of the two funds on the domains of music and design in Iceland has exceeded our expectations. An assessment made by Sigurðardóttur & Young in the University of Iceland unveils that the support of these funds has made a substantial difference for many of the grantees, providing them with the economic basis for their work, as well as helping them significantly in developing their outreach and publicity.

Ahead of us is a time of transition, with new projects being formulated, increasingly within the framework of international development.

It has been a long-standing dream of Aurora’s founders, to bridge the worlds of their two operating countries, Iceland and Sierra Leone. Supporting the creative fields has proved to be influential in empowering people of many economically challenged societies. At the same time, we believe in the value of providing the chance for young Icelandic designers and musicians to collaborate with their counterparts from underprivileged backgrounds, in order to broaden their horizons, deepen their understanding and mature their outlook on life. To achieve this, we are currently laying the groundwork for projects aimed at establishing cooperation of Icelandic designers and musicians with their colleagues in Sierra Leone.

Aurora Foundation wants to use this turning point to thank all the wonderful people who have contributed by working with the fund; its board members, committees and executives, as well as those who have relied on their support.