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Turid Birkeland (5 November 1962 – 24 December 2015) was a Norwegian cultural executive and former politician for the Labour Party. She was Minister of Culture in 1996–97. She was an author and also worked in television, including being chief of cultural programming at NRK and a member of the board at Telenor. She also headed the Risør Chamber Music Festival, and was the director of Concerts Norway.

Turid Birkeland
William, Roger og Turid (cropped).jpg
Minister of Culture
In office
25 October 1996 – 17 October 1997
MonarchHarald V
Prime MinisterThorbjørn Jagland
Preceded byÅse Kleveland
Succeeded byAnne Enger Lahnstein
Member of the Norwegian Parliament
In office
9 May 1986 – 30 September 1989
Member of the Oslo City Council
In office
21 October 2015 – 24 December 2015
Leader of the Workers' Youth League
In office
25 February 1989 – 6 September 1992
Preceded byJens Stoltenberg
Succeeded byTrond Giske
Personal details
Born(1962-11-05)5 November 1962
Haugesund, Norway
Died24 December 2015(2015-12-24) (aged 53)
Political partyLabour Party

Early life and educationEdit

Birkeland was born in Haugesund as a daughter of trade unionist Einar Sigurd Birkeland and consultant Tora Birkeland.[1] Her father was secretary in the Norwegian Union of Iron and Metalworkers in the 1970s,[2] and later became international secretary in the United Federation of Trade Unions and rector of Sørmarka Folk High School.[3]

Turid Birkeland received her secondary education at Bjerke Upper Secondary School in Oslo,[4] graduating in 1981. She attended college in 1982–83,[1] and holds an ex.phil.[5]


She led her party's youth organization, the Workers' Youth League, in Oslo from 1985 to 1986 and nationwide from 1989 to 1992.[1] Birkeland has said that she was unaware of inflated membership numbers in the Workers' Youth League that came to light after her tenure.[6]

She was elected as a deputy representative to the Parliament of Norway in the 1985 election, but served as a regular representative through most of the term from 1986 to 1989, as a cover for Knut Frydenlund and Sissel Rønbeck who were members of Brundtland's Second Cabinet. She was a member of the Standing Committee on Education and Church Affairs. In 1993–1994 she worked for the Norwegian People's Aid as well as the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions branch in Brussels. In 1994 she was one of the spearheads in the campaign for Norway to join the European Union,[1][7] which failed following a referendum on the issue.

In 1995–1996 she worked brief tenures as a television and radio presenter in TV+, Reiseradioen and TVNorge. From October 1996 to October 1997 she served as Minister of Culture,[1] in the Cabinet of Thorbjørn Jagland, at which time her profession was given as journalist.[8] In April 1997, during her term, she made the first official visit to Cuba by a Norwegian government minister, setting up a cultural exchange agreement.[9][10][11]

After her spell as Minister of Culture, which ended following the 1997 election, Birkeland returned to Reiseradioen in 1998, and was a presenter in the channel NRK 2 from 1998 to 1999. She was then a producer and manager at Rubicon TV from 1999 to 2001, and director of cultural programming in the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation from 2001 to 2004. She was also a member of the board at Telenor from 2007 to 2012 and the Norwegian Academy of Music from 2009. After three years as board member of the Risør Chamber Music Festival from 1997 to 2001,[1][7] she was its managing director from 2004 to 2010. From June 2006 to April 2007 she also ran Café Solsiden in the same town.[1][12][13] She also had a brief tenure in the publishing house Piratforlaget between 2005 and 2006.[1]

On 16 April 2012 Birkeland became director of Concerts Norway, succeeding Åse Kleveland, who had also been her predecessor as Minister of Culture.[7][14][15] In the same year she became board member of Southern and Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority. She was also a supervisory council member in Oslo Bolig- og Sparelag.[1]


In 2011 Birkeland was diagnosed as suffering from myelofibrosis. On 24 December 2015, she died from complications of the illness.[16]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • (ed., with Gunvor Risa). Litteratur for barn: artiklar om barns bøker og lesing. Skriftserie, Landslaget for norskundervisning, 54; Cappelen fakta. Oslo: Cappelen, 1990. ISBN 9788202126636 (in Norwegian) (in Danish)
  • (with Sigurd Sandvin). Alle fakta på bordet. Oslo: Cappelen, 1992. ISBN 9788202138288 (in Norwegian)
  • KK: Kvinner kann. Oslo: Det norske arbeiderparti Arbeidernes opplysningsforbund, 1996. OCLC 790758935 (in Norwegian)
  • Stockholm. Damms reisebøker; Din guide til storbyen. Oslo: Damm, 2001 ISBN 9788251787925 (in Norwegian)
  • London. Damms reisebøker; Din guide til storbyen. Oslo: Damm, 2005. ISBN 9788249607013 (in Norwegian)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Birkeland, Turid (1962- ): Arbeiderpartiet, Stortinget (in Norwegian)
  2. ^ "Jern og Metall om voksenopplæring: Permisjon med lønn", Aftenposten, October 18, 1978, p.3 (in Norwegian)
  3. ^ "Ny rektor på LO-skolen", Aftenposten, October 29, 1992, p.30 (in Norwegian)
  4. ^ "Sprek 25-åring med nytt navn"[permanent dead link], Utdanningsetaten, Oslo kommune (in Norwegian): "I 1977 ble det startet en videregående skole på Linderud. ... En tidligere elev som begynte på skolen da den var ganske ny, var Turid Birkeland." - "In 1977 a secondary school was opened in Linderud. ... A former student who started at the school when it was completely new was Turid Birkeland."
  5. ^ "..og dette kunne Jaglands lag:", Dagbladet, September 18, 1998 (in Norwegian)
  6. ^ "Visste om triksing", Verdens Gang, March 11, 1998 (in Norwegian)
  7. ^ a b c Turid Birkeland", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian)
  8. ^ Thorbjørn Jaglands regjering: 25. oktober 1996 - 17. oktober 1997, (in Norwegian)
  9. ^ "Norge og Cuba", I dag, Aftenposten, April 11, 1997, p. 14 (in Norwegian)
  10. ^ Dokument nr. 15:10, Spørsmål nr. 99, innlevert 11 desember 1998, Spørsmål til skriftlig besvarelse med svar, Parliament of Norway, p. 102 (in Norwegian) (pdf)
  11. ^ Johan Brox, "Cuba: Eit nytt, norsk Cuba-eventyr", Dag og Tid 51–52, December 21, 2000 (in Nynorsk)
  12. ^ Gunnar Kleiberg, "Kaffe-kjerringa er sagt opp: Etter bare ni måneder som Risørs mest kjente kafevert, eller kaffekjerring om du vil, er det slutt", NRK news, 3 April 2007 (in Norwegian)
  13. ^ Catherine Gonsholt Ighanian, "Turid Birkeland sagt opp: Eks-kulturminister Turid Birkeland (44) har fått sparken som kafévertinne i Risør", Verdens Gang, 3 April 2007 (in Norwegian)
  14. ^ Trine Andersen, "Turid Birkeland ny direktør for Rikskonsertene: En tidligere kulturminister tar over for annen tidligere kulturminister", Aftenposten, February 14, 2012 (in Norwegian)
  15. ^ "Norge—Statsråder—med tiltredelsesdato", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian), updated July 30, 2012.
  16. ^ "Turid Birkeland er død" (in Norwegian). NRK. 2015-12-25. Retrieved 2015-12-25.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Åse Kleveland
Norwegian Minister of Culture
Succeeded by
Anne Enger Lahnstein
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jens Stoltenberg
Leader of Workers' Youth League
Succeeded by
Trond Giske