Traditionally, the arm’s length principle is applicable to the relationship between the government and national cultural institutions, such as the Royal Opera and national museums. The government thus 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.
The most significant trends in cultural policy in the 2000s have been the results of increasing regionalisation, globalisation, and new media; in particular, the increased movements of people, cultural products and cultural influences across national borders have been the main influences on developments in arts and culture, as well as in cultural policy. The main cultural policy responses to these changes can be summed up as a new perspective on Sweden as a multicultural society, a more positive perspective on the creative industries and new efforts to transfer policy-making powers from the national to the regional level. The notion of Sweden as a multicultural society, and what this entails, has increasingly been the subject of political debate in the last several years, but so far, cultural policy remains relatively stable. These trends, and debates, have been noticeable also for cultural institutions, and are visible in Culture Plans and government instructions to relevant cultural institutions.
Regional and municipal institutions are usually part of regional, or local, administrations, and depend on funding both from local and regional authorities, and – in many cases – also on the national government, and on funding allocated within the Culture Cooperation Model (see chapters 1.2.3 and 1.2.6). The introduction of this model has meant that national funding for regional institutions is now subject to changes in the Culture Plans made by the Regions, and approved by the Swedish Arts Council. While this initially was a cause of worry, funding for regional institutions has remained stable. Increasing the role of private and civil society supported culture in relation to government-supported culture has during the past 20-25 years been an issue of increasing importance in Swedish cultural policy.