Traditionally, the arm’s length principle is applicable to the relationship between the government and national cultural institutions like the Royal Opera and central museums. In Sweden, this means that the government appoints a board and a director, supports the institution financially, and formulates goals for their activities related to the national cultural policy objectives. No major institutions are entirely non-governmental or private. However, the government does not directly control the content of activities in cultural institutions, such as their choice of repertoire and artistic expressions.
Regional or municipal institutions are usually part of regional or local administrations and depend for funding both on their respective local and regional government and – in many cases – also on the national government (see chapter 1.3.3). Increasing the role of private and civil society supported culture in relation to government-supported culture has during the past 15-20 years been an issue of increasing importance in Swedish cultural policy.
The role of cultural and creative industries has also been given increased importance (see chapter 3.5.1). This is now evident in inter-ministerial cooperation on the national level (see chapter 1.2.6) but even more so in cultural policies on the regional and, especially, on the local level. Especially in some municipalities and regions, the creative industries have now become the focus for cultural policy in the hope of developing the regions and strengthening their financial situation.
A special source for funding was the Foundation for the Culture of the Future (Stiftelsen Framtidens kultur). This foundation was established by the government in 1994, and was allocated SEK 529 million. The Director and the Board were appointed by the government. The main purpose of the foundation was to support long-term and innovative cultural projects, thus stimulating regional culture in a wider sense. As the capital funding of the foundation is now spent, it is now in the process of ceasing its operations. In its 2009 Bill on Culture, the government proposed a new fund for similar purposes, the “Culture Bridge” (“Kulturbryggan”) as a successor to the Foundation. This fund is now active and is granted 25 million SEK per year.
For more information on the relationship between the state and civil society, see chapter 1.2.5.