Swedish schools, up to the 12th year, are organised by the municipalities and by private owners, but follow the same national curriculum (läroplanen) in their education, under the supervision of a central government agency (Skolverket). The first nine years of school are mandatory, while the following three years consist of programmes that the pupil can choose, including artistic education. These are followed by university level higher education. Adult education on lower levels than university is organized by the municipalities, while informal education is also organized by non-profit organizations supported by the government.
Municipalities are also responsible for out-of-school music and art schools. Higher education is the responsibility of the national government and higher art education is an integrated part of the system of government universities and university colleges. All education, including arts and culture education, falls within the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. In recent years, education and cultural policies have been given an increasing emphasis in the curricula of artists and actors professional training at university level.
Participation and access to culture is one of the most important goals of Swedish cultural policy, including art education as a means to enhance creativity and expose the public to new experiences. All public cultural institutions are charged with actively promoting cooperation with schools via workshops, special performances, websites, and joint projects. The single biggest item of national government cultural expenditure (about SEK 3.8 billion, 34% of the total budget for cultural policy) is the support for popular adult education (folkbildning, see chapter 6.4). Local networks and study associations (studieförbund) are important actors providing language courses, creative workshops, theatre visits, art lectures etc. Popular adult education also includes grants for non-profit folk high schools, including a large number of artistic courses.
There are also several programmes within the boundaries of cultural policy in the more narrow sense. There is for example a programme of regional artists’ consultants, mainly for dance and visual arts. This model, inspired by a similar programme in Finland, is based on triennial contracts that are financed by a region and a grant from the government, via the Swedish Arts Council. These regional consultants are promoters of their respective art sectors and responsible for initiating contact between schools, individual artists and institutions to engage in projects, visits, long term initiatives etc. A similar model is applied for regional artists’ consultants to promote cultural diversity.