Print this Page
Print this Page

Local Government Reform in Denmark has caused a huge debate on theatre policy and the poor status of local theatres and small city theatres. Much needed funding has been reduced.

Show all Profile-News...

Denmark/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.2 Performing arts and music


The first comprehensive framework for state aid to the performing arts and theatres was set out in the Theatres Act in 1963 (Law No 202 of 31 May 1963 concerning Theatres, passed by the Parliament on 14 May 1963).

The purpose was to establish the basis for continuous development of Danish dramatic art and culture. The Act was designed to enhance the choice of theatre available to audiences, emphasising quality, diversity and innovation. Ensuring ample geographic distribution and guaranteeing the needs of diverse audience groups also came within the remit of the Act.

The first Theatres Act has subsequently been amended on more than twenty occasions since 1963. Among the most recent are restrictions concerning the reimbursement of state support to local theatres (Law No 1104 passed by Parliament on 21 December 1994) and new rules for support to local theatres (Law No 103 om ændring af teaterloven og lov om regionale kulturforsøg passed by the Parliament on 22 February 1996).

The Law on Theatre No 1003, from 29 November 2003, has been amended five times (Law No 1156 from 19 December 2003, Law No 519 from 21 June 2005, Law No 459 from 23 May 2007, Law No 460 from 23 May 2007 and Law No 88 from 20 February 2008). Some of these amendments were related to the Local Governmental Reform in the field of theatre. The latest amendment was of an administrative nature.

The Theatre Law has not been revised in total since 1990, although several changes have been added since then. These changes make the law confusing and difficult to navigate and, according to experts, have resulted in a patchwork blanket of temporary solutions.

The Local Government Reform, of 1 January 2007, caused a huge debate on theatre policy and the poor status of local theatres and the small city theatres in Denmark (see chapter 3.2). The basis for the Danish local theatre model is municipal funding and the municipality is refunded by the state. Until 2007, refunding by the state amounted to 50% of grants. But, as part of the Finance Law of 2007, it was decided to make refunding percent variable within a fixed yearly budget. This actually means that the local theatres got less public funding in 2008.

Calculations by the Danish Statistical Bureau in 2007 documented that the number of tickets sold by state subsidised theatres remained stable at around 2-3 million for the previous 10 years while the regional theatres decreased their numbers by 24% and the Copenhagen Theatres by 27%. On the other hand, the local theatres and the small city theatres increased their ticket sales by 34%.


Denmark became the first country in the world to adopt definitive legislation in the field of music. Subsidies in the field of music are granted pursuant to the Music Act, which was passed in 1976 (Law No 306 of 10 June 1976 on music passed by the Parliament 26 May 1976).

The main purpose was to support the permanent symphony orchestras, the development of Danish art and music and other initiatives such as development of regional institutions of music. The Act has subsequently been amended on many occasions. In 2000, a new law concerning state support to local music venues for rock, jazz and folk music (Law No 341) was passed by the Parliament on 11 May 2000. In 2006, a departmental order regarding state support to music schools and courses organised by the Municipalities (Law No 723) was put into force on 22 June. Most recently, a comprehensive new Law on Music (Law No 184 of January 2008) was declared. The law includes all the different revisions, changes and amendments since the first Music Act was passed by the Parliament in 1976.

The Danish Arts Foundation (see chapter 5.3.1) has a special committee for Three-year working grants awarded by the foundation as subsidies to individual composers. Lifelong subsidies are awarded to composers recognised for long-term accomplishments within the art of music.

The Danish Arts Council (see chapter 5.3.1) has special committees to manage subsidies to arts of stage as well as the art of music.

Chapter published: 10-04-2012

Your Comments on this Chapter?