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A Cultural Policy Bill was passed by the parliament, setting new objectives for Swedish cultural policy.

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Sweden/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

In the government bill on the national budget 2016, several new measures have been introduced, increasing public grants to culture in several areas, including local culture, museums, drama, and film. During 2016, several measures have also been introduced to combat racism and strengthen democracy through support for art, heritage, culture, and civil society. Earlier in 2016, free entry to national museums was reintroduced, a measure which has been one of the more debated since it was originally introduced by a Social Democratic government in 2005, and abolished the following year by the new non-socialist government. From 2017, government support for film production will no longer be governed by a film agreement between the government and relevant organizations and actors in film production, but as direct government funding.

A government bill on cultural heritage is planned to be submitted to parliament in the near future. The preparations for this bill include the government report on museums presented by a special government commission in 2015 (SOU 2015:89). In its report, the commission emphasized the need to secure the independence of public museums and proposed the introduction of a Museum Law. Recently, the government gave the National Heritage Board increased responsibility for coordinating museum activities. The government agency National Touring Exhibitions was also merged with the National Heritage Board. In the media and by the political opposition, the government has been criticized for politicizing museums in the interest of multiculturalism. Especially the suggested merger of several museums of World Culture in Stockholm has been criticized from that perspective.

In recent years, large parts of Swedish cultural policy have undergone administrative reform as the Cultural Cooperation Model for delegation of power from the national government to the regional governments has been implemented. Under this model, grants from the national government supporting regional cultural institutions and policies are transferred to regional governments, if the Swedish Arts Council, acting as a representative of the national government, has approved their cultural policy plans. In the making of their cultural policy plans, regional governments are also obligated to consult with representa­tives of cultural institutions, professionals and civil society in their respective regions. In 2011, this procedure was tested in five regions (West Sweden, Skåne, Norrbotten, Gotland and Halland). Eleven more regions have followed during 2012, leaving Stockholm County as the only region in which the model is yet to be implemented.

As the model was implemented, representatives of artists became less critical to it. According to evaluations, financial priorities in regional cultural policy changed very little during its first years of implementation. Representatives of the regional governments were, on the other hand, critical to the way in which the model has been implemented, arguing that it is giving too much authority to the Swedish Arts Council over regional cultural policies made by elected regional governments.

Chapter published: 16-05-2017

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