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King Kyrre

Kyrre Stræth Fledsberg rarely misses a cultural event in the city. FOTO: Kristian Müller Andersen

King Kyrre

The scissors and razor have lain untouched since April. Kyrre Stræth Fledsberg wants to show his daughter how Harald Hårfagre looked.

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Two men working together at Kulturhuset. One with almost no hair on his head is working the lights and one with more than enough hair for both of them is working the sound system. Fledsberg is now in his 11th year as a cultural engineer and is the king of the soundboard. And as it happens royal history is currently in the wind in his family.

"My daughter wondered how Harald Hårfagre looked like, so then we we started a practical historical research project," he says.

They decided Fledsberg would go an entire year without trimming either his hair or beard to show how Norway's first king looked. There are five months remaining and he admits that he is looking forward a little to April.

"The beard I can tolerate, but the hair is starting to annoy me," he says.

Asked what kind of reactions he's getting, Fledsberg pauses a moment to reflect.

"There is more fascination than envy," he says with a smile. "People think I'm good at growing a beard."

Fledsberg came to Svalbard in 2003 to produce the NRK series "Svalbard is the Life," which followed some residents for half a year.

"It was like the BBC series that is going on now, it looks almost like a blueprint," he says.

It took another three years before he moved up for his job in what would become Kulturhuset.

"I have been involved in that from the very beginning, from the first drawings of the building," he says.

He filled out the job application in a band bus, since his years prior to Svalbard were characterized by a lot of traveling with bands and artists. He spent 200 days a year traveling and working as a sound engineer for, among others, CC Cowboys and Ane Brun. The latter will perform at Polarjazz in February, much to Fledsberg's pleasure.

"We worked together for several years so it's very nice that she is coming to Svalbard," he says. "I'll be Kulturhuset representative then and not the sound technician."

He has been involved in most aspects of the Longyearbyen's cultural life since moving here in 2006. Although much of it is part of his job, he also volunteers extensively.

"There is hardly a cultural event I have not been part of," he says.

Fledsberg' says he is very satisfied with his job.

"It's the first time I have a regular job, having been a freelancer my entire life," he says. "Now there is a great difference with a family life and trips outdoors, so it's great to have landed here."

He says the best thing is seeing the development of children who participate in cultural events, with this year's highlight being the performance "An Adventurous Tribute to Store Norske" to celebrate the company's 100th birthday.

"It was amazing to see that absolutely everyone made it on stage," he says. "It's really nice to help them up and forward by giving them so much stage time."

Asked whether he has the best job he can imagine, his reply is clear.

"I'd have chosen the same thing again," he says.

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