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Sweden/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.3 Status and partnerships of public cultural institutions

With the exception of cinemas, amusement parks, a few private theatres and a number of private art collections and heritage sites, all major cultural institutions are financed by the national, regional or local governments. Most of them are owned and maintained by public authorities. The majority of the national cultural institutions are located in the capital. The national government also contributes to regional and municipal cultural institutions.

National institutions

Most central museums are under government authority and most of them are organised as parts of government agencies. A few museums have the legal status of foundations, but there is little practical difference in their relationship to the government. The government stipulates instructions and regulations, appoints boards, and is responsible for supporting them financially. For historical reasons, most cultural institutions are located in the capital.  However, the newer Museum of World Cultures is located in Gothenburg and the Maritime Museum is located in Karlskrona. Two national stages, the Royal Opera and the Royal Dramatic Theatre, are organised as limited liability companies, with the state as sole shareholder. These companies are not financially self-supporting; they receive 70-80% of their annual budgets from the state funds for culture.
National touring institutions

National touring institutions have a long tradition in Swedish cultural policy, forming an intermediary level between the national and the regional organisation. The most important institutions are production organisations operating in the field of theatre (Riksteatern) and art exhibitions (Riksutställningar). A similar organisation for music – Rikskonserter – existed, but was discontinued in 2010. Riksutställningar is now planed to be merged into the National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) in a reform intended to create a more coherent organisation for museum and heritage management. Riksteatern is based on a large number of regional theatre associations. Their common goal is to make high quality events in theatre and visual arts available in all parts of Sweden. Riksteatern is now emphasising the role of member associations and thus its role in civil society, somewhat in contrast with its previous emphasis on its role as a national institution.

Regional and municipal institutions

Regional cultural institutions are mostly run as foundations or limited liability companies, in which the county and / or municipal authorities are the owners. There are also examples of institutions that are integrated in the county or municipal administrations. Regardless of organisational structure, the counties / municipalities bear most of the financial responsibility for these institutions. In recent years, a few theatres and even a museum have been transformed into public limited companies. The state allocates important financial support to the regional institutions. Access to EU structural funds, and earmarked money for cultural projects, has become increasingly important at regional levels.

Chapter published: 16-05-2017

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