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.

Kraumur and Aurora Design fund throw a Street-party at Icelandic design festival, DesignMarch

Musicians and bands, designers and architects came together in a futuresque city, a pop-up event organized by Kraumur and Aurora Design fund in the Reykjavik Art Museum on 14. March.

Among the musicians performing at the event were: Retro Stefson, Sin Fang, Samaris, Snorri Helgason, Bjartey & Gígja, Valdimar Guðmundsson and Örn Eldjárn.  The event was organized by Theresa Himmer and Brynhildur Pálsdóttir.

The venue was transformed into a city of the future, where stalls and bars had been set up to serve lavish street-food to all the guests of the party.

At this long-awaited joint event of the music and design funds of Aurora, musicians and designers joined hands, in creating a truly magical, and totally unforgettable, evening.

Designers receive grants from Aurora Design Fund for the 12th time

Eight design initiatives have been chosen from 50 applications to receive grants from the Aurora Design Fund this autumn. Following is the list of grantees:

Hildur Yeoman receives a grant of ISK 2,000,000 for the branding of her fashion line, based on elements of the Icelandic Flora. Website:

Or Type, Iceland’s only online type foundry, receives ISK 1,500,000, for the development and marketing of their typefaces.  Website:

Start-up company RóRó has designed a sleep-companion for preemies, babies and toddlers, – a doll that sounds like real-life breathing and heartbeat. RóRó receives ISK 1,500,000, to design packaging and marketing material, and to participate in an overseas expo. Website:

Haut-couture fashion label JÖR receives ISK 1,500,000 to promote its 2015 autumn collection, and for overseas promotion and marketing. Website:

Katla Maríudóttir receives ISK 500,000 to make a preliminary research for a pool-construction in the municipality of Akranes. The research is based on her recent MA thesis in architecture. Website:

Kron by Kronkron, a leading Icelandic fashion label, receives ISK 1,000,000 to participate in marketing events and expos and, to pursue business opportunities. Website:

Through the collaboration of several design organizations, a new design magazine edited by Arnar Fells, Elísabet V. Ingvarsdóttir, María Kristín Jónsdóttir and Sigriður Maack will be published soon. The initiative receives ISK 800,000 to secure the publication of the first two editions. Website:

“Wind of Change”-symposium at Iðnó

There were lively discussions about challenges and opportunities in population development at a symposium about the project ‘Wind of Change’ held in Iðnó and the Gasstation by Hlemmur on 24 May. The first propositions of four interdisciplinary project groups were introduced. They were chosen to develop ideas about the future opportunities for Icelandic urban areas. This includes a residential area in Skeifan, illuminated interior gardens by open sea, quality square meters in the sacred spaces of the private car and a whole area that links together the Háaleiti residential area, the Múli industrial area and the green areas in Laugardalur.

Thereafter there were debates where the ideas of the groups were discussed in connection with the ideological and systematic challenges and hindrances in residential- and regional development.  In the symposium were the following: Eygló Harðardóttir minister of social affairs and housing, Jón Gnarr mayor of Reykjavík, Björn Karlsson head of Iceland Construction Authority, Gunnar Ó. Haraldsson head of the Institute of Economic Studies of the University of Iceland, Ólöf Örvarsdóttir division manager of Traffic and planning of Reykjavík, Ríkharður Kristjánsson PhD civil engineering. Sigrún Birgisdóttir head of the division of design and architecture at Iceland Academy of the Arts facilitated the discussions.

Various interesting ideas came up in the discussions such as from Eygló Harðardóttir minister of social services and housing. She emphasised the importance of checking right from the start the price of a residential house and its operational form. </br>Jón Gnarr pointed out that green projects were no longer special projects but that all projects had to be environmentally friendly. He considered Skeifan a good example of an area that had the potential of changing into a residential area and he quoted Einstein:  “If at first an idea isn’t absurd, there’s no hope for it”.


Aurora Design Fund disperses grants to designers for the 11th time

Seven designers and design initiatives received grants from the Aurora Design Fund this spring. Following is the list of grantees:

Hæg breytileg átt is a new housing development project, focusing on progressive, sustainable, economical, and socially-oriented housing solutions in urban areas. The project, a collaboration of Reykjavik City and major institutions of urban housing, art, and design, receives ISK 5,000,000. Website:

Hið íslenska bókmenntafélag, a publishing company, receives ISK 1,200,000, for the preparation and finalizing of a book project on the life and work of architect Gunnlaugur Halldórsson. Website:

Ígló&Indí a childrenswear company receives a grant of ISK 2,000,000 to participate in an overseas expo and to hire a marketing specialist for the label’s marketing the label in the UK. Website:

Graphic designer Aðalbjörg Þórðardóttir and The Tin Can Factory, language school, receive ISK 500,000 to be able to collaborate on designing a language-learning board-game. Website:

Hugdetta design team receives 2,000,000 for marketing research and marketing campaign of their fishbone model-making kit. Website:

Una Baldvinsdóttir recently received her MA degree in textile design. She is granted with ISK 500,000, as a support to her internship at the German design company Bless.

Iceland Design Centre receives ISK 1,000,000 to do research and collect resources for the making of a promotional documentary film on DesignMarch, the annual design festival organized by the center. Website:

Eleventh allocation of Aurora Design fund

This time the fund received 70 applications from all fields of design.  A special emphasis was on architecture and the project HÆG BREYTILEG ÁTT (English: Wind of Change) which Aurora Design Fund has been working on, received a special donation. The project was introduced at a special occasion on HönnunarMars (English: DesignMarch) last spring.

WIND OF CHANGE is a regional development project with an emphasis on concepts that promote environmentally friendly housing, community awareness, economical and progressive residential opportunities within Icelandic urban areas, based on sharing of ideas and cooperation. Advertisements will be sent out in the next few days asking for participants to form teams of designers, architects, technical people, and people within the humanities as well as science to tackle this important project. Aurora Fund’s partners in this project are the city of Reykjavík, the Federation of Icelandic Industries and Iceland Design Centre.

In addition to the project WIND OF CHANGE grants will be allocated to five other projects. These are book works within architecture, a project about three dimensional creation and technique, a fashion design project and two newly graduated designers will receive grants for internship abroad:

REYKJAVIK EINS OG HÚN HEFÐI GETAÐ ORÐIÐ, (English: Reykjavik as it could have developed), book work (ISK 1,000).

Guðni Valberg architect and Anna Dröfn Ágústsdóttir historian will receive continued support for a research- and design project in preparation for the writing of a book about the history of design and the placement of many of the most important buildings in Reykjavík.

Project Í ÞÍNAR HENDUR (English: Into your hands) – three dimensional creation and technology (ISK 1.4 million).

The project Í ÞÍNAR HENDUR – three dimensional creation and technology is a vibrant multidisciplinary work shop of artists, designers, IT specialists and engineers where the impact of the foreseeable revolution in three dimensional printing technology, will be studied.  It is the company StudioBility and Reykjavik Art Festival that are the entrepreneurs and the responsible parties of this project and other partners besides Aurora Design Fund are Iceland Academy of the Arts and Reykjavík University.

Jör by Guðmundur Jörundsson (ISK 2 million).
The company Jör by Guðmundur Jörundsson receives a grant for product development and prototyping of the autumn and winter collection of the company.

Klara Arnaldsdóttir (ISK 500,000).
Klara Arnaldsdóttir graduated in 2012 from Iceland Academy of Arts in graphic design. Klara will receive a grant for internship at the company karlssonwilker in New York where she will have the guidance of the graphic designers Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker.

Guðrún Harðardóttir (ISK 500,000).
Guðrún Harðardóttir finished a BA degree in product design at Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2012. Guðrún receives a grant for internship at Statens Værksteder for Kunst in Copenhagen.

Sixth allocation of Aurora Fund

This year there will be two allocations and this is the first one. The second one will be later in the year, only to developmental projects.  ISK 48.3 million goes to five projects that promote humanitarian, educational and cultural issues in Iceland and in Kenya in cooperation with ABC Children’s Aid.

New projects:

Grant to ABC Hjálparstarfs (English: ABC Children’s Aid) in Kenya – ISK 1.8 million

Grant to Vinafélag Vinjar, a shelter for mentally impaired people at Hverfisgata – ISK 1 million per year for the next three years.

Grant to The Magic Flute by Mozart for children – ISK 500,000

Continuing projects:

Kraumur Music Fund  – ISK 20 million

Aurora Design Fund  – ISK 25 million

ABC Childrens Aid in Kenya

ABC Children’s Aid is an Icelandic aid organisation that was established in 1988 and is now operating in eight countries in Asia and Africa. The organisation gives children permanent help in the form of education, support and health care. ABC Children’s Aid in Kenya was founded in Nairobi in 2006 and now there are about 70 employees and Thorunn Lusiru and Samuel Lusiru Gona are in charge of the operation. Around 400 pupils attend the ABC school and about 200 live in the school’s dormitory. The Aurora Fund will donate ISK 1.8 million to the organisation to buy necessities for the dormitory.
Vinafélag Vinjar, a shelter for mentally impaired people at Hverfisgata

In 2009 the Aurora Fund donated about ISK 20 million to the Icelandic Red Cross and three of their projects. One of the projects, called Vin (English: oasis) is a place that the Red Cross has established for people who have mental problems. Friends of Vin was founded in 2011 in order to secure the future of Vin as the Red Cross was considering closing the place down due to lack of funding. In 2012 an agreement was made between the City of Reykjavik, the Ministry of Welfare, the Red Cross and Friends of Vin to secure the operation of Vin for three years. Friends of Vin agreed to provide a part of the operational funding that is needed and in that way the Aurora Fund will renew its support to Vin by providing ISK one million to Friends of Vin each year for three years.

The Magic Flute for Children

The publication of the book about the magic flute by Mozart and an accompanying CD will be the first children’s opera that has been published in Iceland with sound and an illustrated children’s book. This famous, adventure-opera appeals particularly to children and has therefore been used a lot in other countries in order to introduce operas to children. Unfortunately in Iceland children have not been taught much about operas. The idea is to use the material in music education as well as put it on stage in cooperation with Töfrahurðin (the Magical Door) in Salurinn music hall and possibly in the cultural centre Hof in Akureyri afterwards. The people behind the publication are Edda Austmann, Pamela De Sensi and Halla Þórlaug Óskarsdóttir.  Aurora Fund sponsors the publication of the Magic Flute by Mozart for children with ISK 500,000.

Hæg breytileg átt (English: Slow shifting wind) is a new project of AuroraDesign Fund

At the last DesignMarch Aurora Design Fund introduced a new project within the field of population and residential development.   The idea is to have a platform for exchanging ideas, where the focus will be on interdisciplinary thinking and giving young designers, architects, technically educated individuals and people within the humanities as well as the sciences an opportunity to form interdisciplinary teams that will attempt to solve future problems of housing.  The project is being developed and Iceland Design Centre, representatives from Reykjavik City and from SA-Confederation of Icelandic Employers have expressed their interest in taking part in the work.  The project will be introduced soon and participants will be recruited as well.    For further information see the homepage of Aurora Design Fund.

Aurora Design Fund allocates

There was excitement in the air at the Aurora Fund headquarters when the Design Fund allocated ISK 6.5 million.  Ostwald Helgason, Spark Design Space and the product design project Textasíða were among those who received a grant.

The Fund has now allocated ISK 17 million to designers and design projects in the year 2012.

The designers and design projects that receive grants at this time are:

  • Fashion design project Ostwald Helgason (ISK 1.5 million) Ingvar Helgason and Susanne Ostwald fashion designers, to further develop and market their fashion collection and to take part in the fashion week in New York in May 2013.
  • Spark Design Space (ISK 1.2 million) – To make promotional material about design and designers that have had exhibitions in the gallery.
  • The product design project Textasíða (ISK 1.2 million) – Snæfríð Þorsteins and Hildigunnur Gunnarsdóttir product-and graphic designers, for further product design and preparation of the project Textasíður for mass production.
  • Research- and design project based on the life and work of Gísli B. Björnsson (ISK 1.2 million) – Ármann Agnarsson, graphic designer for a research- and design project based on the life and work of Gísli B. Björnsson in connection with an exhibition that is ongoing at the Museum of Design and Applied Art.
  • Architecture, book arts (ISK 750,000) – Guðni Valberg architect and Anna Dröfn Ágústsdóttir historian for a research- and design project in preparation for the writing of a book about the history of design and the placement of many of the most important buildings in Reykjavík.
  • Guðrún Eysteinsdóttir textile designer (ISK 500,000) – Grant to pursue internship at Center for Advanced Textiles (CAT) in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Hildigunnur Sigurðardóttir fashion designer (ISK 500,000) – Grant to pursue internship at Roland Mouret in London.

This is the second allocation from the fund this year and the ninth allocation since the Design Fund was established early in 2009. The next allocation from the fund will take place in the spring of 2013. See further information on Aurora Fund’s homepage.

Aurora Design Fund allocates ISK 10 million

Seven exceptional projects receive grants in the first allocation of two from the Aurora Design Fund in 2012. Among them were the designer duo Ostwald Helgason, Eygló and the children’s clothing collection As We Grow.

The former allocation of the year of Aurora Design Fund took place with a ceremony at the fund’s headquarters at Vonarstræti where seven different projects received grants; a total of ISK 10 million.

The projects that received grants were:

  •       Ostwald Helgason – ISK 2 million to take part in the fashion week in New York.
  •       Eygló – ISK 1.8 million to continue product development and international marketing.
  •       The children’s clothes collection As we grow received ISK 1.8 million for international promotion and marketing.
  •       The product designer Brynjar Sigurðarson and his Húsgögn (E. Furniture) received ISK 1.5 million for further product development.
  •       Krads architects’ studio Playtime received ISK 1.2 million to further develop a studio for students of architecture in Iceland and abroad, in cooperation with the world famous architect Viny Maas, and Lego etc.
  •       Valgerður Pétursdóttir received ISK 500,000 for internship at AUGE in Italy.
  •       DesignMarch received ISK 1.2 million for international promotion and blog.  This is a continuation of the cooperation with Iceland Design Centre for developing the DesignMarch festival and international promotion of Icelandic design.

Allocation to the daughter funds and to Aurora Fund’s educational project inSierra Leone

The Aurora Fund’s fifth allocation took place on 15 February when ISK 85 million were allocated to Aurora’s Design Fund, Kraumur Music Fund and UNICEF.

The board of Aurora Fund decided, according to the policy of the fund, to adjust this allocation better to a difficult situation on the financial markets.  Great fluctuations on the markets have resulted in the rate of return being lower than in the first years of the fund. According to the objectives of Aurora Fund the allocations may not exceed the return of the fund.  It may therefore be expected to affect the allocations of the fund in the next few years.  However, despite a collapse in the economic market in 2008 as well as a difficult situation following the collapse, the fund is strong as before.

This fifth allocation of the fund was ISK 40 million to an educational project in Sierra Leone in cooperation with the education authorities in the country as well as UNICEF in Iceland and in Sierra Leone.  This is the fifth and the last allocation to this largest and most important project of the Fund from the beginning; to build a child friendly educational system and school facilities, focusing especially on the needs of girls. All in all, the fund has allocated about ISK 240 million to the project, including the ISK 36 million that the founders of the fund donated earlier.

Aurora Design Fund will receive ISK 25 million which is the first payment of ISL 75 million that the board of Aurora decided to allocate to the Design Fund to ensure its continuation for the next three years.   The Design Fund will continue to respect the policy to support exceptional designers who have a solid business plan and a clear future vision.

Kraumur Music Fund received ISK 20 million to give boost to the Icelandic music scene, mainly by supporting young musicians and assist them in promoting their art.</br>

Sharing experience

Aurora Design Fund is at a turning point in its operation and together with some of its recipients will share their experience in a series of talks at the Iceland Design Centre, Reykjavik Art Museum and Iceland Academy of the Arts on Thursday 17 November at 20:00 in Hafnarhús.

The Aurora Fund, the founder of the Design Fund has decided to renew its support for the next three years. This milestone calls for reflection, a moment of retrospection and the sharing of experiences of the fund as well as those who have received support.


Andrea Maack / EAU DE PARFUM

Anton Kaldal, Gunnar Þ.Vilhjálmson and Steinar Farestveit / The History and Development of the Letter ð,

Hugrún Árnadóttir and Magni Þorsteinsson / KRON by KRONKRON,

Hafsteinn Júlíusson / HAF,

Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir / SPARK, Design Space,

Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir / Aurora Design Fund

At lunch this same day, Thursday 17 November the latter allocation of the year 2011 took place. It is also the seventh allocation since the Fund was established on 13 February 2009.

Latter allocation of Aurora’s Design fund 2011

ISK 6 million was allocated to exceptional designers and their projects. A total of ISK 17.5 million has been allocated from the fund in 2011.

This time continued support was given to two parties to further develop their projects, and this is in line with the policy of the Design Fund to follow through selected projects in order to increase the probability of their success. The support went to Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir and SPARK Design Gallery and Sruli Recht fashion designer.

The Design Fund also supported Sóley Stefánsdóttir and her project DIG-Equality (Design Innovation for Gender Equality), which is based on the concept that design is power for social change.

The Aurora Design Fund has sponsored eight designers for internship in the past years. This time it was Steinar Júlíusson who received the grant, a graphic designer who will do internship at Acne Productions in Stockholm.

The Design Fund continues its cooperation with the organisers of events related to design and participated recently in Atypi, an international conference in Harpa about the design of fonts. The fund is also working jointly with the Iceland Design Centre on making a blog page where Icelandic design is promoted internationally.

Former allocation of Aurora Design fund 2011

Bóas Kristjánsson, HAF, The origin, history and development of the letter “ð” as well as other exciting projects will receive grants for over ISK 11 million from Aurora Design Fund.

The fund has as a main goal to sponsor exceptional designers who have a solid business concept and a clear view of the future. The fund received 80 applications of all kinds of design, which is the largest number of applications that the fund has received so far. In addition to the increased number of applications their quality has gone up considerably. Aurora Design Fund allocated ISK 11.580,000 to designers and architects for projects within graphic design, fashion design, food design, product design and architecture.

From a news report:    This time continued support was given to three parties to further develop their projects, and this is in line with the policy of the Design Fund to follow through selected projects in order to increase the probability of their success. The artists are Bóas Kristjánsson and his fashion brand 8045, Hafsteinn Júlíusson and his brand HAF and Charlie Strand and his book Icelandic Fashion Design which will be published this summer. All these projects have been continued after receiving support earlier.

The Design Fund now supports for the first time Anton Kaldal, Gunnar Vilhjálmsson and Steinar Farestveit with a research project that covers the origin, history and the development of the letter “ð” which is an important part of Icelandic heritage. The research will conclude in the publication of a book. The architects KRADS and their project PLAYTIME which is a travelling workshop for students of architecture, developed in cooperation with LEGO, the Danish toy producer. Sruli Recht fashion designer has a new men’s line and Auður Ösp Guðmundsdóttir, Embla Vigfúsdóttir, Katarina Lötzsch and Robert Peterssen anf the food design project “Order the impact” which recently received the innovation prize of the President of Iceland.

Furthermore Aurora Fund continues its participation in the development of DesignMarch of the Icelandic Design Centre and supports the production of promotional videos about the festival and thus makes it possible for the Design Centre to invite international media.

Aurora Design Fund has supported designers for internships in the last few years but this is the first time that the support is given for internship in another country. The recipients of this support are Birna Geirfinnsdóttir who will be doing her internship at Fraser Muggeridge Studio in London and Björgvin Friðgeirsson who will be working with “Soup” in California which is owned by John Bielenberg, a multiple award winning graphic designer.

This is the first allocation from the fund this year and the sixth since the Design Fund was established in the beginning of 2009. Another allocation will take place in the autumn of 2011.

Presentation of a performance assessment of the daughter funds

The Research Centre of Creative Fields at the Business Research of the University of Iceland introduced on 13 March a performance assessment of the operation of Aurora Design Fund and Kraumur Music Fund.

A large number of people were gathered in room 101 in the Business School of the University of Iceland when the performance assessment of the operation and allocations of the sub funds were presented.

The objective of the performance assessment was first and foremost to assist the managers of the funds to evaluate the work that is being done in the funds, what effect it has on the future and success of the awardees as well as the design- and music scene in a broader sense. The performance assessment was also seen as a way to find out how best to implement the donations, how they may guarantee the biggest success, what approach is best for those who apply for the grants and what kind of image funds like these have in the minds of the applicants and the partners.
The authors of the report are Margrét Sigrún Sigurðardóttir and Tómas Viktor Young and they presented their findings.

Auður Einarsdóttir general manager of Aurora Fund, Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir general manager of Aurora Design Fund and Eldar Ástþórsson general manager of Kraumur Music Fund also told about the operation of the funds.

The research was based on half open interviews with the general managers of the funds and the awardees. The findings of the performance assessment showed that the awardees were very pleased with the funds and feel the application procedure is personal and informal. Due to an increased number of applications the authors of the report point out that it is necessary to make the application procedure more formalised. In the last application procedure Kraumur received 233 applications, the Design Fund 80 applications and this is a record since the funds started their operations.</br>The awardees all agreed that the grant had helped them greatly with their project but that they would have proceeded with their project even if they had not received the grant. This shows that the funds are on the right track in supporting projects that have a clear future vision and objective and are more likely to be realised.

The objective of the funds is to allocate larger grants to fewer projects in order to make more difference to each projects and this is in line with the objective of the Aurora Fund.  The researchers point out that the development towards lower grants to a larger group of awardees will not serve the objectives of the funds and it reduces the likelihood of success for the awardees themselves. This can happen when the number of good applications increases and it actually happened at a certain point in time for the funds.

The conclusion of the performance assessment is therefore that the awardees appreciate more that the funds allocate larger grants to fewer projects. The funds have decided to abide by that conclusion.

The general managers of the funds agree that the performance assessment is very important for the operation of the funds. This is a research that helps form the policy of the funds in allocating grants as well as in their general operation. Good instructions to how to strengthen and boost the operation, maintain the parts of the work that are successful and change things that need to be changed. The operation of the funds has gone through constant development during the last years which is understandable because the funds were meant to be experimental and therefore a research like this one is not only a good indication for the development in the coming years but also ignites discussions about things that can be improved in the general operation of the funds.</br>On the picture: Auður Einarsdóttir general manager of Aurora Fund, Eldar Ástþórsson general manager of Kraumur Music Fund, Margrét Sigrún Sigurðardóttir lecturer at the Business School of the University of Iceland and author of the performance assessment Tómas Viktor Young, author of the performance assessment, Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir general manager of Aurora Fund.</br>

Performing arts, the search and rescue team Ársæll and the exhibition ofLouise Bourgouis at the National Gallery of Iceland are new sponsor projects ofAurora Fund

Today, 16 February 2011 Aurora Fund allocates for the fourth time ISK 100 million to six projects within the field of humanities, education and culture in Iceland and in Sierra Leone.
Grants for performing arts:
In Iceland performing arts have been in a great uptrend recently and the creative energy has received international attention.  Aurora has decided to sponsor performing arts in Iceland, i.e. theatre, dance and song for about ISK10 million. In this way Aurora Fund wants to strengthen even further the performing arts by sponsoring exceptional and ambitious projects.  Aurora Fund has recruited Viðar Eggertsson director and Ingibjörg Þórisdóttir dramaturge and critic, to give professional advice in selecting projects and a great emphasis will be on projects that are artistic, bold and professional.
Applications may now be sent in and further information is on the Fund’s homepage.

The Search and Rescue team Ársæll:
The Search and Rescue team Ársæll is a department within the International rescue team of Slysavarnafélagið Landsbjörg and they assist in storms, earthquakes and flooding in inhabited areas everywhere in the country.  The team did a huge feat in a difficult situation in Haiti following the earthquake in January 2010 and they were among the first rescue teams to arrive on the site.  Much of their specialised equipment needs maintenance and replacement and therefore the Aurora Fund has decided to donate ISK 3 million to the team. The money will be used to buy equipment.

Further information:

Louise Bourgeois – Exhibition of her artwork in the National Gallery of Iceland:
Louise Bourgeois is one of the best known women artists of the contemporary world. She died in 2010 when she was 99 years old, still agile and working vigorously as an artist. She started her career as a painter but around the middle of the last century she started sculpting which developed into massive instalments. She is a pioneer in that field and considered by many to be the artist that bridged the gap between modern- and contemporary art.  Now, at her 100 year anniversary exhibitions of her work are more popular than ever and therefore this is a unique opportunity for the National Gallery of Iceland to get an exhibition of this size and the first one in Europe since the artist passed away. Foreign visitors are expected that will come solely for the exhibition. The Aurora Fund has decided to donate ISK 3 million to the National Gallery of Iceland to sponsor the exhibition of the works of Louise Bourgeois and publication of a book about the artist which will give Icelanders a chance to get to know this artist a little better.
Attached is further information as well as pictures, one of Louise in 2007 taken by Dimitris Yeros and the other one is of her work Spider from 1995.

Further information: 

Kraumur Music Fund:
Kraumur Music Fund was established in 2008 by Aurora Fund as an experimental project for three years. The Kraumur activities have been flourishing and the fund has engaged in miscellaneous cooperative work with people within the music industry. During these three years around 100 musicians, bands and various music projects have been allocated about ISK 60 million.  Kraumur has, among other things, sponsored concerts and tours in Iceland and abroad, assisted in overseas marketing and launched new musical awards under the name of the Kraumur List.  It is therefore clear that the fund’s presence is important in the music sector in Iceland and the fund has now received 232 applications for the next allocation. Therefore the board of Aurora decided to continue this good work and provide another ISK 60 million for Kraumur Music Fund for the next three years.

Further information:

Aurora Design Fund:
Aurora Design Fund was established two years ago and is now receiving ISK 25 million for the third time. The fund has supported and worked with a diverse group of designers and the objective of the fund is to support designers and assist them is promoting themselves, their ideas, products and projects in Iceland as well as internationally. Besides, the fund also shares knowledge in the field of design and architecture in cooperation with others in the field as needed. Aurora Design Fund has as an objective to support promising designers and strengthen design work on the grass root level. The fund emphasises the support of projects that are exceptional in some way, encourage creativity and imagination within Icelandic design.

Further information: 

UNICEF’s educational project in Sierra Leone in Africa:
Aurora allocates for the fourth time ISK 40 million to build up a child friendly educational system and school facilities, especially with girls’ needs in mind. This is a part of the Fund’s most extensive project since its foundation and a total of ISK 160 million has been allocated to the project.  The project is in cooperation with the local educational authorities and UNICEF in Iceland and in Sierra Leone.  As a result of this project there are already over one hundred teachers who have received retraining and about 60 schoolhouses have been built with the appropriate water supply, plumbing, furniture and teaching materials.  A great effort is put into the education of teachers and training in teaching methods where the child is in a priority position and the community is activated by establishing parents’ associations at the schools as well as clubs for mothers. The project has been very successful and the same approach may be used in other parts of Sierra Leone.

This is the fourth time that grants are allocated from the Aurora Fund since its establishment in January 2007 by the couple Ingibjörg Kristjánsdóttir and Ólafur Ólafsson who started the fund with a capital sum of ISK one billion.  During these years grants have been allocated from the fund to projects that can contribute to a better life in Iceland as well as the developing countries.  Aurora Fund is a non-profit organisation that has fulfilled its objectives to support few, but large projects where there is need for considerable amounts of money in order for them to be realised.
The board of the Fund also wants to see the projects having a profound influence in the community. An emphasis is on the contributions in Iceland strengthening innovation and new projects so as to boost the variety of economic activity in the country. Projects that Aurora sponsors in the developing countries are first and foremost within education and culture. An effort is made to follow through with projects and support awardees and partners as much as possible.

The autumn allocation of the Design Fund

The autumn allocation of the Aurora Design Fund allocates ISK 6 million to four projects.  This is the fifth allocation from the fund since it was established on 13 February 2009. It was decided to have three allocations this year to meet the schedules of the projects.

The organisers of the fund have focused on supporting designers who have a solid business plan and a clear future vision, in order for the support of the fund to be a determinant influence on the work of the designer in question, making it possible for him to continue and be self-sustaining. In this allocation four designers were sponsored to further develop and promote their projects. The Design Fund has decided on a policy that emphasises following through chosen projects in order to guarantee the success which is strived at by the designer in question.

Three designers receive continuing support this time, in order to advance their products, and one designer is receiving a grant for the first time.

The following designers received donations:

ANDREA MAACK                                                                                         PROJECT: EAU DE PARFUM


KATRÍN ÓLÍNA                                                                              PROJECT: PRODUCTION OF SPECIAL PROJECTS

GUÐMUNDUR HALLGRÍMSSON / MUNDI                                                 PROJECT: MUNDI

Further information about grants and the work of Aurora Design Fund can be found on

Aurora fund allocates USD 800 thousand to four projects in Iceland and in Sierra Leone

The board of the Aurora Fund announced last week, March 16th, its decision to allocate USD 800 thousand in support of four projects in the field of humanitarian aid, education, and culture in Iceland and in SierraLeone.

One of the Fund’s latest projects is supporting Brúðuheimar in Borgarnes – a Centre for Arts and Culture which will become an important part of cultural tourism in the area. Brúðuheimar will receive USD 120 thousand, USD 55 thousand of which will be in the form of a loan.

Three projects will be receiving grants for the second or the third time: The Aurora Design Fund will receive USD 200 thousand, Kraumur, Aurora’s Music Fund, will receive USD 150 thousand, and an educational project in the African nation of Sierra Leone will receive USD 330 thousand.

The Aurora Fund was founded in January 2007 by husband and wife Ólafur Ólafsson and Ingibjörg Kristjánsdóttir who contributed the initial capital of USD 14.3 million. This is the third year Aurora distributes grants, supporting projects that contribute to the betterment of society in Iceland and in the developing countries. The initial capital has grown nicely, today amounting to around USD 1.8 million.

One of Aurora Fund’s goals is to support few but large projects that can really benefit and flourish from the support. The Board of the Aurora Fund also considers projects which have a decisive impact on their communities. For the Icelandic projects the emphasis is on empowering innovating, new projects and thereby adding to the variety of the market. Aurora Fund’s projects in the developing countries are related to education, culture, and health care. The Fund places an emphasis on following through with projects and to assist the beneficiaries of these grants and their co-workers as much as possible.

The Aurora Fund has allocated grants in total of USD 3.2 million to 11 projects over the past three years. 1.5 million of these have gone to four projects in Africa and Nepal, and 1.7 million to 7 Icelandic projects. Before the Aurora Fund was created, Ingibjörg and Ólafur gave USD 800 thousand in support of two projects, one in Iceland and one in Sierra Leone, which brings the total amount of grants up to USD 4 million.

The Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, one of the two original projects supported by Ingibjörg and Ólafur, marked the beginning of the Aurora Fund. In many ways the Centre is typical for the kind of projects the Fund supports in Iceland, and it has unquestioningly had a great impact, both in the rural Borgarnes area and the whole of Icelandic society. Sigurgeir’s Stuffed Bird Collection by Lake Mývatn is another interesting project that the Aurora Fund has supported outside the capital area. The Fund has also initiated the creation of two specialized funds: Kraumur, Aurora’s Music Fund, and the Aurora Design Fund.

Brúðuheimar (e. Puppet World) will receive will USD 120 thousand, for the creation of a Centre for Arts and Culture in Englendingavík in Borgarnes, Iceland. USD 65 thousand of this amount will be a grant going towards the design and development of a Puppet Museum, while USD 55 thousand will be in the form of a loan to secure accommodation and preparing the premises. This is the first time that the Aurora Fund provides support in the form of a loan, a form of assistance the Board can see increasing, especially with projects that are business-related.

Brúðuheimar, a Centre for Arts and Culture, is founded by husband and wife Bernd Ogrodnik, puppeteer, and Hildur Jónsdóttir, general manager. The Centre will be located in the old buildings that used to house the rural area’s grocery store. These houses date back to the 19th Century and are an important part of Icelandic history. They are under protection and are now being renovated according to 19th Century building styles. The Centre will be an interactive Puppet Museum on one hand, and on the other a Puppet Theatre showing pieces for children and adults alike. There will be a café on-site with an emphasis on serving healthy food. A visit to Brúðuheimar will be an enchanting adventure and an enjoyable activity for people of all ages.

Brúðuheimar is set to open in May of 2010.

Brúðuheimar have everything it takes to become a magical world for both young and old. Its artistic director, Bernd Ogrodnik, is among the foremost puppet artists in the world. Brúðuheimar is a great addition to the cultural tourism in Borgarbyggð, and will support other local tourist attractions, such as the Settlement Centre and Snorrastofa in Reykholt. The future vision of the people behind the project is both ambitious and professional, which is why the board of the Aurora Fund has decided to assist them in enriching the local daily life and culture.

An educational project in the African nation of Sierra Leone will receive a grant USD 330 thousand to create a child-friendly educational system and to build schools which take special note of the needs of girls. This is the third of five grants which have been allocated to the project. Aurora Fund’s largest project to date, it is developed in collaboration with the country’s educational authorities and UNICEF in both Iceland and in Sierra Leone.

Over the last four years, USD 1.5 milljon has been put into the project, including USD 500 thousand, Ingibjörg and Ólafur had donated before the foundation of Aurora to build 50 schools in the country’s poorest regions.

As a result of this project over one hundred teaches have been re-educated and around 60 schoolhouses have been built with running water, toilets, irrigation systems, furniture, and other materials needed for teaching.

Last year a decision was made to improve the quality of education and to adjust it specifically to the needs of the children, girls in particular. The goal is to keep the girls in school for as long as possible, hopefully to prevent them from getting married and having children at much too early an age.

More effort has been put into educating teachers and providing them with training in a manner of teaching where the child is put first, as well as involving the community by creating Parents’ Associations in the schools and Mothers’ Clubs. More information on the project can be found on Aurora Fund’s web-page,, and also on UNICEF Iceland’s webpage,

Kraumur, Aurora’s music fund will receive USD 150 thousand to strengthen the music life in Iceland, primarily by supporting young musicians in performing and presenting their work. This is done through direct grants, professional assistance, and various forms of cooperation. Instigated by the Aurora Fund, Kraumur was created in early 2008 and is now receiving a grant for the third time.

Kraumur’s activities have been extensive and successful. Over the past two years the fund has given over USD 300 thousand in direct grants to 74 musicians, bands, and music related projects. Kraumur has also collaborated with a wide array of people, groups, and institutions within the musical spectrum – providing support for concerts, road tours in Iceland and abroad, the marketing of Icelandic music overseas as well as instigating a new music award, Kraumslistinn.

It is quite clear that the presence of this fund is hugely influential in the Icelandic cultural life. The manager of Kraumur is Eldar Ástþórsson. Further information can be found on Kraumur’s lively web-site

Aurora’s Design Fund will receive USD 200 thousand, to strengthen the roots of Icelandic design by giving financial support to talented designers so they can get their designs produced, noticed, and sold both in Iceland and abroad. The Design Fund was created in February 2009 with the initial capital of USD 250 thousand.

The Design Fund’s goal is to harness the power that lies within the sphere of design through direct financial contributions to outstanding designers, and to assist them in getting themselves, their ideas, and products noticed. The Design Fund is also meant to promote information regarding design, encourage innovation, and to be a platform for cooperation between designers and members of the production/business sectors. It also provides support to young designers through counselling, networking, and scholarships.

The Fund also emphasises supporting project that excel in some way, thereby encouraging originality and creative thinking in Icelandic design.

The Aurora Design Fund has allocated in total of USD 300 thousand in grants to 25 projects and designers, and participated in various projects within the field of design. The Fund’s manager is Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir. Further information regarding the Aurora Design Fund can be found on its web-site

First allocation of three in 2010 from Aurora Design Fund.

Eight designers and architects received a grant of total ISK 7,880,000 kr from Aurora Design Fund yesterday 17th February.

The Design Fund received 62 applications in the fields of architecture, graphic design, landscape architecture, fashion design and product design. The diverseness of applications provides the Fund an opportunity to broaden its calling further and encourage diversity in all areas of design and architecture.

Three new projects receive a grant this time, but behind them is a diverse group of people.

The Design Fund will continue supporting the following individuals, who are all in the process of marketing their products abroad;

In addition, two scholarships are awarded to newly graduated designers to work with experienced designers or architects in Iceland.

Kristrún Thors product designer will work with Gudrun Lilja Gunnlaugsdóttur in Studio Bility and Laufey Jónsdóttir, fashion designer will work with Blika Glófa ehf.

This was the first allocation in the year 2010 of three, the next allocation is planned in May and then the third in September. The application deadline will be advertised on the  Fund´s website


Aurora fund allocates 111, 5 million ISK to projects in Iceland and in Africa

The Board of the Aurora Fund has allocated ISK 111.5 million in support of six projects in the field of humanitarian aid, education and culture in Iceland as well as the African countries of Sierra Leone and Mozambique. Four of these projects have not been Fund beneficiaries before.
This is the second time the Aurora Fund allocates grants from its funds. Aurora was founded in January 2007 by Ingibjörg Kristjánsdóttir, landscape architect, and her husband, Ólafur Ólafsson, a member of the board of Samskip and Alfesca.

The foundation was initially capitalised by ISK one billion and its annual contributions will derive from interest and other profits from the initial funding, in addition to any money that may be donated. The primary aim of the foundation is to enhance and strengthen cultural and humanitarian activities in Iceland and in the developing countries. It should be mentioned that most of the Fund’s assets were protected during the economic collapse, and its Board will continue to work in the spirit it was intended.

The Icelandic Red Cross will receive ISK 20 million in support of three projects:

Aurora Board Reasoning:
The Icelandic Red Cross is highly respected for its extensive humanitarian aid –  both locally and abroad – where professionalism and selflessness are always at the forefront. The Aurora Foundation decided to assist those who suffer as a result of the economic crisis in Iceland, and collaboration with the Icelandic Red Cross seemed the best way to approach such a goal. The three projects, that Aurora is supporting this year, all serve different groups in need of assistance.

The Newly founded Aurora Design Fund is a three year experimental project, receiving ISK 25 million per year to support designers getting their work noticed and to assist in product development, primary production, and marketing, both locally and internationally. The Foundation will also communicate knowledge in the field of design and support collaboration between designers and the general economy. A Fund such as this one has never before existed in Iceland.
The Aurora Design Fund will soon open the website where further information can be reached.

Aurora Board Reasoning:
There is a clear need for a design fund in Iceland, to support promising designer as well as to empower the design grassroots and be a platform for ideas and creative thought in the field. The board of Aurora hopes that the new fund will encourage the growth of Icelandic design and that it will become one of the foundations for renaissance in business.
Hugi Guðmundsson, composer, will receive ISK 3 million for the webpage in support of an international cultural project, meant to empower classical music and reach new audiences through the internet.

Aurora Board Reasoning: is the result of a pioneering spirit of the sort that Aurora Foundations wishes to encourage and strengthen. It is a unique project, especially in that it helps to introduce classical music to young people. Hugi Guðmundsson has a clear vision for the future and even though the project is still relatively small, it has all the means to become a driving force and a large influence in the world of classical music.
UNICEF in Iceland receives ISK 3, 5 million to support an award winning child-to-child radio programme organised by UNICEF with children and young people in Mozambique. The radio programme focuses on peer tutoring, empowering oneself, and the participation of children. The National Radio of Iceland, Rás 1, is now working on a similar radio show for children in Iceland, also in collaboration with UNICEF, honouring the 20 year anniversary of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Aurora Board Reasoning:
The project in Mozambique is a fascinating example of peer tutoring where children and teenagers use radio to conduct a discussion on their own premises regarding problems they face. UNICEF and the National Radio’s plan on starting a radio programme in Iceland built on the Mozambique project is very interesting, but the goal is to create a connection between the young people in these two countries and thereby uniting their two different worlds of experience.

UNICEF’s educational program in Sierra Leone will receive ISK 40 million continued support to create a child-friendly educational system and to build schools, keeping the needs of girls especially in mind. The project began last year, promising Aurora’s continued support for a total of ISK 120 million, to be paid out in three parts between 2008-2010.
The project in Sierra Leone is Aurora Foundation’s biggest project to date, and has already trained over a hundred teachers. Nine schools are currently being constructed in the Kono district, with proper water and drainage systems, furniture and teaching utilities.

Kraumur, Aurora’s music fund will receive ISK 20 million to support aspiring musicians in their art and the marketing thereof. Kraumur was founded last year,  at the behest of the Aurora Foundation, with a promise of ISK 50 million to be divided in three payments from 2008-2010. The Aurora fund decided to add another 5 million to the expected 15 million contribution this year, since Kraumur has proven itself to be sorely needed, and its presence of enormous value.
Kraumur’s operations are extensive and flourishing, and the fund has contributed widely. It has supported concerts and tours both in Iceland and abroad, assisted in marketing and created a new award, the Kraumur Award, among other things. Further information can be found on Kraumur’s lively webpage: