The 290 Municipalities (kommuner) of Sweden, are tax levying, local authorities headed by elected assemblies, which elects municipal councils. They are legally obligated to fund at least one public library (see chapter 3.2), but they also fund other cultural activities, such as culture and music schools (see chapter 5.4), theatres, art galleries, museums, and popular cultural education (see chapter 6.4). Municipalities are also responsible for regular schools, up to, but not including, university level education. Funding comes mainly from locally derived municipal income, i.e. primarily taxes (additional resources may include regional and / or central- government grants). The main areas for municipal activities in the cultural sphere – apart from organizing the regular school system – are libraries, culture and music schools, and support for local NGO’s, but larger municipalities may organize a significantly broader range of cultural institutions and programmes.
Swedish municipalities vary greatly in size and population – ranging from Bjurholm, with 2 391 inhabitants, to Stockholm, with 975 277, and from Sundbyberg, with 6 105 inhabitants/km2, to Arjeplog with 0.22 – as well as in the range of their cultural activities. Sweden as a whole is the second least densely populated country in the EU. Factors such as employment and the medium income of inhabitants also vary greatly. Such differences force some municipalities to focus on creating access to cultural institutions and activities over great distances, while larger cities have the ability to maintain large institutions, and grants for arts and civil society. Some suburban municipalities rely on the cultural resources of a larger city, while others have ambitious cultural policies adapting to increasing cultural diversity.
Local governments provide 40 percent of the total public expenditure on culture.