Sweden has no single official definition of the creative industries. The most commonly used approach originates with The Knowledge Foundation (KK-stiftelsen) and includes ”architecture, computer and TV games, design, film, photography, the arts, literature, the media, market communication, fashion, music, cuisine, scenic arts, tourism and experience based learning“.
As in the other Nordic countries, Swedish authorities have not traditionally had a specific policy towards such industries. However, schemes have for a long time existed to support quality production in the areas of books and art periodicals, music and film. These support systems play an important role in Swedish cultural policy. For example:
- government support to literature, including publishing books and periodicals, subsidies for libraries to purchase books and the promotion of reading; and
- state subsidies for film production, promotion and distribution.
In 2002, the VAT rate for books was reduced from 25 to 6%. The chief motive was the promotion of reading generally. Results point to lower retail prices and increased reading of fiction literature though mainly within groups already reading books.
Much more than on the national level, cultural and creative industries tends to be in focus on the local, and to some extent on the regional, level. Several Swedish cities and less populated municipalities have made efforts to use culture as a means to revive the local economy and make the municipality a more attractive place to live or invest. Such efforts are often guided by the notion of cultural planning, focusing on mapping and making use of all of the cultural resources available in the local cultural life. Especially noted for such efforts are, for example, Malmö City and the regional government of South Småland.
Measures to stimulate cultural and creative industries are commonly discussed in the regional culture plans presented by regional authorities to the Swedish Arts Council, which thus plays a role in approving these measures on the national level. The Government Agency for Cultural Analysis also plays a role in evaluating these measures, and has published several reports dealing with them.