Swedish schools are organized and funded by the municipalities, often organized by private owners and funded via a voucher system. They all follow the same national curriculum (läroplanen), under the supervision of The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen). The first nine years of school are mandatory, while the following three years consist of programmes chosen by parents and pupils. Some of these programmes qualify pupils for university level higher education. Adult education on lower levels than university is organized by 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 culture schools.
Higher education is the responsibility of the national government, and higher art education is an integrated part of the government funded system of universities and university colleges. All education, including arts and culture education, falls within the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Research. In recent years, education and cultural policies have been given an increasing emphasis in the curricula of artists and actors education at university level.
Participation and access to culture is one of the most important goals of Swedish cultural policy, including art education,with the ambition of enhancing creativity and giving the public access to arts and culture. The largest single item of national government cultural expenditure (SEK 4.2 billion in 2020) is the support for popular adult education (folkbildning, see chapters 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.