The competent body for the implementation of the Convention in Denmark is the Danish Folklore Archives at the Royal Library under the Ministry of Culture. The Danish State is fully involved in supporting intangible cultural heritage in Denmark. In order to avoid the reification of cultural practices, one of the aims of the Danish safeguarding policy is to focus on processes instead of products and, by focusing on living culture, it aims to highlight how cultural continuity co-exists with processes of cultural change.
There do not appear to be any institutions dedicated to training in management¸ although there are degree programmes related to aspects of intangible cultural heritage (ethnology, anthropology, ethnomusicology, cultural history, language and cultural encounters etc.) at the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, University of Southern Denmark, Roskilde University, and Aalborg University. These provide the foundation for developing the expertise necessary to undertake research and documentation projects on intangible cultural heritage. Music conservatories and other artistic educational institutions also teach folk music and folk culture and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Conservation, educates conservators who may also engage with elements of intangible cultural heritage.
The Danish Folklore Archives are Denmark’s archive for intangible cultural heritage and promote its exploration and documentation. They are tasked with studying and preserving cultural heritage as expressed in ways of life, ideas, myths, narratives, songs and music. Measures related to the practice, documentation and safeguarding of Intangible cultural heritage are also carried out by other institutions such as museums, archives, educational institutions, voluntary associations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individual practitioners. The National Museum of Denmark (including the Danish Archives of Recent History, the Open Air Museum and the Danish Music Museum), the Den Gamle By (Denmark’s market town museum), the Workers’ Museum and the Women’s Museum collect objects, instruments and other materials, as well as documentation on intangible cultural heritage. The documentation of intangible cultural heritage in Denmark has also concerned the heritage of ethnic minorities in Denmark, mainly in relation to refugees and immigrants that have arrived in Denmark during the last fifty years. This has been conducted through interviews and the observation of participants. As institutions supported by the Danish State, these are all obliged to ensure access to their collections and the Danish Folklore Archives makes its documentation and materials available through printed and electronic records, by answering queries and to visitors.
In Denmark, inventorying is not considered as a goal in itself but rather as a tool for awareness raising and safeguarding and has, up until now, primarily been based on previously existing registers and databases. In 2016, the Danish Ministry of Culture granted the Royal Library funds to develop work with intangible cultural heritage in Denmark and, in 2017-2018, an inventory will be developed focusing on the domain of social practices, rituals and festivals based on the approach taken in Sweden, Finland and Norway, including with regard to digital solutions. The aim will be to involve bearer communities, NGOs and researchers in the documentation and safeguarding work. Both the inventory and the related research projects will be preserved in the Danish Folklore Archives and the results of the research will be published and communicated to a broad audience in order to raise awareness about intangible cultural heritage.
Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage is integrated into both state policies and non-state activities on a number of different levels. The Danish approach to intangible cultural heritage has so far been focused on documentation and research and the Danish Folklore Archives has initiated the creation of a network consisting of local archives and museums to collaboratively document intangible cultural heritage in the local communities. This has led to two large countywide electronic questionnaire surveys. Raising awareness about the intangible cultural heritage in Denmark involves highlighting how it is lived and transmitted across generations, and showing that it can be practised in many different ways by different people in different social contexts. Knowledge about intangible cultural heritage is disseminated through countrywide talks, lecture series, seminars and interviews in the media. In 2016, the Ministry of Culture launched a major project entitled ‘the Denmark canon’ to further the public debate on intangible cultural heritage in Denmark. Based on a broad definition of intangible cultural heritage, everybody in Denmark could propose aspects of the intangible cultural heritage that they deemed important to bring into the future, and subsequently a public electronic vote took place to select the most important ones. This project will continue the work on inventorying, but it will also focus on forms of intangible cultural heritage that are more local or which are carried out by minorities. To supplement the work of state-supported institutions, there NGOs and civil society organizations in which passionate volunteers are active in different ways in specific areas of intangible cultural heritage (the Society for the Promotion of Folk Dancing). The Danish UNESCO National Commission is active in ensuring the recognition of, respect for and enhancement of Intangible cultural heritage in Denmark by organizing meetings and conferences.
In terms of formal education, there are degree programmes related to intangible cultural heritage (ethnology, anthropology, ethnomusicology, cultural history, language and cultural encounters, etc.) at all the universities in Denmark. Folk music and folk culture are also taught at music conservatories and other artistic educational institutions. There is a strong tradition of general education at folk high schools and evening schools open to everyone, and the activities of these institutions are part of the transmission process. Many of the courses they provide and the topics with which they deal are concerned with intangible cultural heritage and awareness raising.
In terms of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, there has been close collaboration with other Nordic countries regarding the field of intangible cultural heritage. This is in part because of the shared character of much intangible cultural heritage in this region and, in part, as a result of the establishment of the Nordic Institute of Folklore by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Danish Folklore Archives is a member of the Network of Nordic and Baltic Tradition Archives where archives exchange knowledge and initiate collective projects. Cooperation with other Nordic countries has also involved shared seminars, frequent communication and knowledge exchange, primarily concerning the drawing up of inventories and other kinds of information sharing. NGOs and other communities also develop close networks and a professional collaboration has been established over many years through archives and research institutions, and through UNESCO-related actors in other parts of Europe, the Unites States and Canada.
Thus far, Denmark has no elements inscribed on the Representative List.