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Denmark/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model

The Danish cultural model can primarily be conceptualised as a variation of the architect model. According to the architect model, the state fashions the framework for a country's cultural development through a ministry of culture, which follows overall policy objectives and approaches from a general perspective. Decisions about overall cultural policy are made – in theory – by the government, after public debate and representations to the minister and ministry of culture.

Cultural policy is designed to serve democratic objectives, training in democracy being considered an important social goal in itself, to guarantee artistic freedom by subsidising the arts and to promote equal access for all by funding centralised and decentralised cultural institutions. The state builds the house, but leaves it up to the tenants to decorate the rooms. The financial conditions faced by artists and permanent institutions depend primarily on public-sector funding and are, to a lesser extent than under the facilitator and patron models, subjected to commercial conditions in the form of sales of works, ticket sales, private donations or sponsorship (for further information, see chapter 9.1: The Nordic Cultural Model). Although the high degree of public funding of the cultural sector is a characteristic paradigm of the Nordic cultural architect model, the present government has given high priority to improve the ticket-income of the institutions and to stimulate private investment and funding of cultural life. So the intention is to transform the Danish cultural model into a facilitator model (see The Nordic Cultural Model- Summary) 

This transformation of cultural policy in the direction of a facilitator model has been a general trend in most European countries in recent years. However, in some respects, the Danish architect model continues to stand apart from other architect models in Europe:

  • it is to a high degree a decentralised model. In 2006, approximately 2/3 of the public sector spending activities in arts and culture were financed by the municipalities (see chapter 6.2.2). The decentralised financing and implementation of the local cultural institutions, such as local heritage museums, local theatres etc., is being improved according to the decentralisation and recentralisation process of the new local governmental reform, although local cultural activities such as museums and libraries still have to be in accordance with laws decided by the government (see chapter 3.2); and
  • there is great emphasis on the egalitarian dimension in cultural policy that means equal assess for all citizens to cultural goods regardless of income and settlement. The citizens' equal access to participation has been emphasised as a main objective in all the governmental reports on culture from 1961–2012. Today, Denmark has a high proportion of people aged 15 years and older who have been to theatres, museums, art exhibitions, libraries, cinemas, concerts, galleries, historic sites and who access the Internet, e.g. approximately 70% of the population, over 15 years of age, had been at least once to a public library during the previous year (see chapter 8.2).

Chapter published: 10-04-2012

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