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Sweden/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

Several government agencies and other public actors are relevant to cultural diplomacy, reporting to either the Ministry of Culture or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Swedish Institute (Svenska Institutet, SI), together with the Swedish Arts Council, is responsible for supporting and initiating activities promoting international cultural exchanges. The SI is also charged with issues regarding information on Sweden abroad and with facilitating exchanges in the spheres of education, research and public life in general. The SI has special assignments as part of its regular international development work and as part of its work in Central and Eastern Europe. It falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and cooperates with Swedish embassies and consulates throughout the world.

The Swedish Arts Council and the National Heritage Board function as contact points for cultural programmes within the EU, and operate the EU Cultural Contact Point in Sweden. The aim of these offices, which operate in 33 countries, is to promote European cultural cooperation, with special emphasis on cultural partnership projects, participation in European networks and translation of European literature.

The Swedish Arts Council also administers the Swedish–South African Cultural Partnership Programme. In South Africa, the equivalent responsibility lies with the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture. The Programme was launched in 2004. Swedish cultural institutions actively exchange and co-operate with colleagues in many parts of the world and take part in many international organisations and networks. The Swedish Arts Council gives grants for international cultural exchange, e.g. for performances, seminars, support to the national committees of cultural NGOs, etc. The Council also manages the government insurance provisions for exhibitions on loan.

Culture Councils currently exist at the Swedish embassies in Beijing, Berlin, Istanbul, London, Moscow, Paris and Washington, and at the Swedish Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels. These representatives of Swedish culture are appointed by the Ministry of Culture but integrated in each embassy (part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). They are charged with promoting cultural exchanges with the host country and stimulate cultural dialogue. The head of the Swedish Cultural Centre in Paris is simultaneously also Culture Council at the Swedish embassy in Paris.

The International Artists Studio Programme in Sweden (IASPIS) offers artist in residence grants to visiting artists and supports artists from Sweden exhibiting abroad. The programme is connected to the Academy of Arts in Stockholm and to other cities in Sweden such as Göteborg, Malmö and Umeå.

In addition to The Nordic Ministers’ Culture Fund in Copenhagen, there are also bilateral funds available for the Nordic countries to realise common projects. In an effort to re-organise Nordic cultural cooperation, Nordic Culture Point was set up by the Nordic Council of Ministers in January 2007. Its mandate is to promote Nordic cultural co-operation as well as promoting Nordic culture internationally (see

The Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) reports to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and is responsible for most of Sweden's contributions to international development cooperation. The goal of SIDA´s work is to improve the standard of living around the world and, in the long term, to eradicate poverty. SIDA is responsible for developing cultural support and exchange projects, closely linked to their general support to third world countries. Throughout the years, SIDA has supported large cultural exchange projects, developed in cooperation with NGO's such as the Swedish-African Museum Programme (SAMP). Today SIDA play a less central role in cultural affairs, prioritising other issues and methods instead.

Inter(-trans)national cooperation on the regional and local levels are highly varied between different local and regional governments.

Chapter published: 16-05-2017

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