There is no explicit Danish policy linking the overall aim of equal access to cultural life to broader issues of civic participation, citizenship, civil society development / cohesion.
Examples of initiatives in the last 5 years to improve cultural participation are:
- in 2003, The Ministry of Culture initiated a reading promotion campaign. The aim of the campaign was to strengthen children’s desires and ability to read and thereby their enjoyment of reading. The programme was due to last till 2007;
- in the area of cultural heritage, the Danish government, in February 2005, put forward a goal of “better access to our cultural heritage”;
- one of the initiatives was to give the public free access to the two biggest national museums, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Denmark, and free access to all state approved museums for children and young people under 18. This was initiated in January 2006;
- the government also developed seven initiatives for development and research in museum communication. One of the initiatives was to develop a common way of carrying through surveys of museum visitors, which will make it possible to compare different surveys in the future;
- another initiative was to develop an Internet portal (http://www.e-museum.dk) where schoolteachers can search all of the educational material of Danish museums, and thereby, use the knowledge placed in the museums in their teaching. The portal was opened in June 2006;
- Danish cultural institutions spend between 350 and 400 million DKK annually on making culture accessible for children. Many museums provide special activities for children, and the Danish Film Institute, some of the higher arts educations and libraries organise different activities for children. Moreover, there are music schools offering music education for children;
- in 2008 the Ministry of Culture published the report Reach Out!, which is meant to emphasise the importance of user-generated content and user-generated innovation. They official aim of the report is threefold. First, it is meant to inspire the cultural institutions to reach out for new target groups. Second, it welcomes further fusion of cultural institutions and the experience economy, looking upon the population not just as users, but also as consumers. Third, to use some of the potentials in digital communication to bring the users closer to the professional cultural live, by for instance getting them to air their voices, or to participate in artistic processes; and
- in 2009 the Ministry of Culture published the report Culture for all, which as the name indicates, focuses on increasing cultural participation. The main weight is put on strengthening the cultural agreements with the regions, to facilitate user-generated innovation (5 million DKK have been earmarked for a cooperative agreement for the next three years with the Ministry of Culture and the Centre for Culture and the Experience Economy), to focus on getting children and youth involved, to make art, culture and cultural heritage more visible in the public space, and to open up further the cultural institutions. Furthermore, focus should be on communicating cultural activities on digital platforms and reforming the cultural institutions, so that they can respond better to changing user-patterns.
Debates on cultural participation
- the decision to extend free access to state approved museums caused some debate. Some museums argued that it would erode the value of the museum visit, if this was not a deliberate decision of the museum visitor. Others argued that the less barriers for the museum public, the better. Free access has resulted in considerably more visitors to the museums; and
- another debate has been on how to encourage more visitors to cultural heritage sites and museums.