1. Cultural policy system
Last update: November, 2016
While many of its institutions are much older, Swedish cultural policy in the modern sense emerged between the 1920s and the 1970s, was consolidated around 1974, and has remained comparatively stable until present times. The cultural policy shaped during the 20th century, is still largely in place, in spite of an increasing tendency to change, especially on the local and regional levels.
Cultural education, public museums, concert halls and public libraries were favoured areas of cultural policy in the early 20th century, typically with substantial contributions from private patrons and voluntary work. In the 1930s, the democratic welfare state began to evolve with an increasing government involvement in arts and culture. During the same period, the efforts in popular cultural education made by popular movements such as the Labour Movement, the Temperance Movement and the Free Church Movement solidified into government-funded organisations. Other important institutions were already old at that time, often been inspired by French, German or Italian models. Examples of such organisations are The Royal Opera, The Royal Dramatic Theatre, The Royal Library, The National Archives and The National Heritage Board. Most of these organizations had been founded by the monarchy and have remained under government control, even though private sponsors and donors have also played a role in funding them.
From the 1930s, the main feature of Swedish cultural policy has been an emphasis on equal access to quality culture. One initiative typical of the early welfare state period was the national touring theatre company Riksteatern, created in 1934. In the 1950s and 1960s, Social Democratic governments continued to expand the state to create an all-encompassing welfare system. Established cultural institutions were modernised and new ones were created, e.g. touring institutions for exhibitions and music, the Film Institute, municipal music schools, and colleges for art and drama. Another example is The Author's Fund, created in 1954 to distribute government grants to writers, established as a support system based in cultural policy and a compensation for the right of public libraries to lend out books.
In the 1960s, political activity in cultural policy debates rose dramatically, resulting in the first general cultural policy objectives in the Government Bill on Culture of 1974. The democratic welfare-state model of cultural policy was now institutionalised. A new government agency, the Swedish Arts Council, was also created. While the objectives of cultural policy established at that time were the results of an initiative of the national government, the most significant result may have been the substantial strengthening of regional and municipal resources for the production and distribution of quality culture.
The Ministry of Culture was separated from the Ministry of Education in 1991, but many participatory cultural activities are still the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, as is artistic education. The two fields are in other words still closely linked, and the ministries were briefly reunited 2004–2006.
Since the 1990’s, the most significant changes in the general conditions for cultural policy have been 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. In 2009, a new Government Bill on Cultural Policy was passed by parliament setting new objectives for Swedish cultural policy, but also creating a new and more decentralised organisation for government supports of arts and culture.
In the 2000’s, regional governments have become increasingly involved in Swedish cultural policy, both in creating their own cultural policies and in distributing funding from the national budget. Because of the Government Bill on Cultural Policy of 2009, a significant part of the national funding for culture was transferred to regional governments. Under this model – known as the Cultural Cooperation Model – the Swedish Arts Council acts as a representative of the national government in approving the Cultural Policy Plans of the regional governments for national funding. In the making of their Cultural Policy Plans, regional governments also obligated to consult with representatives of cultural institutions, professionals and civil society in their respective regions. In 2011, this procedure was tested in five regions (West Sweden, Skåne, Norrbotten, Gotland and Halland). Eleven more regions have followed during 2012, leaving Stockholm County as the only region in which the model is yet to be implemented.
In sharp contrast to the political stability, which has marked Sweden since the middle of the 20th century, the election of 2014 resulted in a parliament with an unclear majority situation. In December 2014, the government bill on the national budget – including a number of reforms relevant to cultural policy (see chapter 2.1) – was voted down by parliament. During 2015, the government has reformed the model used for supporting film production; the Film Agreement will not be renewed, and from 2017, supporting film production will entirely be the responsibility of the national government. A government bill proposing a new museum policy is also expected in 2017.
Main features of the current cultural policy model
The Swedish cultural policy model has until recently been marked by a strong national level, with most of its powers invested in government agencies under the leadership of government appointed directors and boards, including representatives of relevant fields and professions. The complexity of the Swedish cultural policy model is revealed by the large number of heterogeneous units directly subordinated, and / or financially dependent on, the Ministry of Culture. Among the most important, such bodies are the Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Heritage Board. Other large public bodies are the Swedish Film Institute, and the government agencies responsible for various museums and other cultural institutions. The autonomy of cultural institutions organized as government agencies is protected by constitutional law.
In addition, there is a tradition of respect for the autonomy of artists and cultural professionals in matters of content and quality of cultural production. This can be described as a double arm’s length principle. Safeguards against political intervention in the practices of publicly owned and / or publicly financed cultural institutions are relatively strong.
In the Government Bill on Cultural Policy of 2009 (2009/10:3), the previous focus on the national level of cultural policy was somewhat changed. Since then, a new system has been introduced, in which national government funding of regional institutions is governed through regional Cultural Policy Plans approved by the Swedish Arts Council (see chapter 2.1). The autonomy of cultural institutions on the regional and local levels is not constitutionally protected.
Cultural education is largely outside of the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture. Instead, higher artistic education is integrated in the university system, a responsibility of the Ministry of Education. Lower level culture and music schools are a municipal responsibility. The Ministry of Education also supports national study associations and folk high schools, also often dealing with cultural activities and cultural education (see chapter 5.1 and chapter 6.4). While the national government is in many ways the main actor in Swedish cultural policy, the organisation of arts and culture in Sweden can be described as a complex web of interactions between the state, the market, civil society, private patronage and cultural professional associations. The dominant political attitude in cultural policy has favoured cooperation between the state and the cultural professions, while - typically and until recently - being more suspicious towards the market and private sponsorship.
Such attitudes are now increasingly being replaced by a perspective that is more positive towards the market, especially on the local and regional levels. At the same time, the regional level is becoming increasingly important in the Swedish cultural policy model.
Cultural policy objectives
In 2007 and 2008, Swedish cultural policy was evaluated by the Cultural Policy Commission. A Government Bill on Culture, based on the recommendation of the Commission, as well as on the criticism directed at it, was adopted by parliament in 2009. It states the following objectives for Swedish national cultural policy:
“Culture should be a dynamic, challenging and independent force based on the freedom of expression. Everyone should be able to participate in cultural life. Creativity, diversity and artistic quality should mark society's development.
To reach the objectives cultural policy should:
- promote everyone's opportunity to cultural experiences, cultural education and to develop their creative capabilities;
- promote quality and artistic renewal;
- promote a living cultural heritage which is preserved, used and developing;
- promote international and intercultural exchange and cooperation; and
- especially notice the right to culture of children and the young.”
The objectives of Swedish cultural policy are thus similar to objectives on the EU level and among the other EU member states, such as the promotion of cultural diversity, support of creativity, participation in cultural life, and respect for cultural rights. They also have much in common with previous Swedish objectives (decided in 1974 and 1996).
Cultural education (here used as an English translation for the Swedish word bildning) and artistic quality were added as explicit objectives in 1996. This should be understood as an affirmation of an already established view, rather than as a change of direction. The most important change in the revision of 2009 was that the objective of “counteracting the negative effects of commercialism” was removed. This signifies a more positive view of the role of the business sector in cultural policy.
Last update: November, 2016
Last update: November, 2016
Sweden is a unitary state with certain autonomy for local and regional governments guaranteed by its Instrument of Government (one of its Fundamental Laws). In total, the national government provides 45% of public expenditure on culture. Local governments, municipalities, are mainly responsible for public libraries, and for music and culture schools. The role of regional governments in cultural policy has historically been limited, but is now increasing, both by their own initiatives and by reforms in national cultural policy.
Description of the main actors in Swedish cultural policy:
The Parliament (Riksdagen) legislates and decides on the national budget, including the general policies, and provisions for government agencies (including some of the major cultural institutions). The national government's principal responsibility within cultural policy is proposing legislation and the national budget, as well as co-ordinating and long-term planning cultural policy via the appropriate ministries and related bodies. The national government is elected by parliament, which is also responsible for the national budget and for legislation. Most of the practical work of the national government is carried out by government agencies. These have their own boards, appointed by the government, and receive formal instructions decided in government decisions within a framework decided by parliament.
The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the arts, cultural heritage, media, national minorities, civil society, and human rights, and democracy, as well as for policies against discrimination and racism. It prepares government bills concerning these areas, and co-ordinate government agencies. More than 40 government agencies report to the Ministry of Culture. The main agencies dealing with cultural policy are described in this chapter. Government agencies responsible to the Ministry of Culture include many of the more than 30 museums financed directly by the state. Directly responsible to the Ministry of Culture is also The Royal Opera and The Royal Dramatic Theatre. Through its grants to regional governments, the state supports a large number of regional museums, theatres and other cultural institutions.
The Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for education on all levels, including cultural education and education in the arts.
The Swedish Arts Council (Statens Kulturråd) is a government agency reporting to the Ministry of Culture. Its principal task is to implement the national cultural policy. The Council is responsible for:
- the allocation of state cultural funding to theatre, dance, music, literature, arts periodicals and public libraries, and to the fine arts, museums and exhibitions;
- providing the Swedish government with the basic data it needs to make cultural policy decisions, by evaluating state spending in the cultural sphere, etc.;
- providing information on culture and cultural policy; and
- approving regional cultural polices before allocating national funding to the regional level.
The National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) is a government agency reporting to the Ministry of Culture. It serves as Sweden's central administrative agency in the area of cultural heritage and historic environments. As the national coordinating agency, the National Heritage Board has overall responsibility for promoting the objectives of Sweden's heritage policy. Among the Board's activities are various initiatives to protect the historic environment, which includes the accumulation and dissemination of information, preservation, conservation, interagency coordination and archaeological activities. The National Heritage Board is responsible for heritage matters according to the Heritage Commemoration Act, the regulations on national building monuments, the Planning and Building Act, and the Environment Code (in matters concerning cultural reserves). It allocates financial resources to regional heritage agencies and acts as a national centre of expertise in the heritage field. From 2017, the National Heritage Board will be given increased responsibility for museum issues.
The National Archives (Riksarkivet) is a government agency reporting to the Ministry of Culture. It supervises all public records of the agencies of the central government, as well as the records generated by regional and local authorities. In line with the 2009 Government Bill on Culture, the regional archives, which were until then independent government agencies, have been merged into The National Archives to form a single government agency. The Military Archives, SVAR (Svensk Arkivinformation) and Arkion are parts of the National Archives.
The Swedish Agency for Cultural Analysis (Myndigheten för kulturanalys) was established in 2011 to gather information on arts and culture, follow relevant research, analyse information and evaluate cultural policy. It is also responsible for statistics within the area of cultural policy. It reports annually to the government.
The Royal Library (Kungliga biblioteket) is a government agency reporting to the Ministry of Education. It is responsible for the national library of Sweden, collecting all works published in the country, as well as a number of other categories of relevant material and media. While it is mainly responsible to the Ministry of Education and Research, it is also responsible for coordinating all public libraries in Sweden, most of which are municipal libraries. On this issue, The Royal Library reports to the Ministry of Culture.
The Sámi Parliament (Sametinget) is an elected body working under the Ministry of Culture and acting as a representative body for the Sámi people in Sweden. The Sámi Parliament supports professional skills development, as well as Sámi culture and language. The role of the Swedish Sámi Parliament is regulated in Swedish law and financed through the Swedish national budget. Similar Sámi parliaments also exist in Norway and Finland.
The Swedish Institute (Svenska Institutet, SI), together with the Swedish Arts Council, is responsible for supporting and initiating activities promoting international cultural exchanges (see chapter 1.4.1).
The Swedish Film Institute (Svenska Filminstitutet, SFI) is a foundation responsible for the promotion, support and development of Swedish film, the allocation of grants for the production, distribution and exhibition of Swedish films and the promotion of Swedish cinema at international level. Many of the SFI’s activities have previously been regulated by the Film Agreement, an agreement between the Swedish state and the film and media industry. From 2017, the SFI and government grants to film will be funded solely via the national budget and regulated by national cultural policy.
The Swedish Media Council (Statens Medieråd) is a government agency founded 1 January 2011, when the National Board of Film Classification was merged with former Swedish Media Council. Its objectives include reducing the risk of harmful media influences on minors and empowering minors as conscious media users.
The TV Authority is responsible for regulations on commercial and satellite transmissions. It is also the licensing and registration authority for local and similar radio stations, temporary transmissions and distribution by cable and satellite companies, and collects fees from local radio and commercial TV transmissions within Sweden.
The Arts Grants Committee (Konstnärsnämnden), The Authors' Fund (Författarfonden) and The National Public Arts Council (Statens konstråd) are agencies responsible for various kinds of grants to support authors and other artists.
The County Administrative Boards (länsstyrelser) are 21 government agencies representing the national government on the regional level on issues for which there is no other body of the national government on that level, including the natural environment and cultural heritage.Each County Administrative Board is headed by a governor (landshövding) appointed by the national government.
Last update: November, 2016
The County Councils, or regional governments (landsting), numbering 18, plus 2 specially regulated regions, are tax-levying authorities on the regional level headed by elected assemblies. They are mainly responsible for regional health services, but also provide support for regional theatres, orchestras, museums, and libraries (mainly county and hospital libraries). Under the Cultural Cooperation Model, (see chapter 2.1) each county council or other regional authority submits a culture plan for the region to the Swedish Arts Council. After this plan has been approved, the regional authority is granted government funding for the support of arts and culture in the region, including the regional cultural institutions.
Regional governments provide 15% of the total public expenditure on culture.
Last update: November, 2016
The Municipalities, or local governments (kommuner), numbering 290, are tax levying, local authorities headed by elected assemblies, i.e. local councils. They are legally obligated to fund at least one public library, but they also fund other cultural activities, such as culture and music schools, theatres, art galleries, museums and popular cultural education. Funding comes mainly from locally derived municipal income, mainly taxes (additional resources may include regional and / or central- government grants).
Local governments provide 40% of the total public expenditure on culture.
Last update: November, 2016
Associations of citizens have historically played an important role in Swedish society and politics, often in close cooperation with the state. However, in many areas this role is mostly limited to acting as advocacy groups, leaving welfare arrangements to the state. Leisure activities are one of the exceptions to this rule. Consequently, organisations relevant to cultural policy are in most cases concerned either with advocacy or with organising leisure activities.
The Swedish voluntary sector, and the approaches to it taken in government policy, has long been dominated by organisations sharing several organisational characteristics:
- they have equal membership open to everyone who wants to join;
- they have hierarchic democratic federal structure divided in regional districts that are, in turn, based on local clubs;
- they have a high number of individual members who form the basis of the organisation's internal democracy; typically cover the whole nation geographically, and only the nation;
- they, to a high degree, rely on voluntary work,
- the state contributes a significant portion of their income; and
- they are often closely integrated in government and are, for example, typically consulted by the government before new legislation is proposed to the parliament.
Such organisations are often described as popular movement organisations (folkrörelseorganisationer). This way of organising is enforced by strong links to the nation-state, as well as to its regional authorities and municipalities.
A slightly different form than the typical Swedish NGO structure is the study association. These are more complex in structure. They are also the economically dominant form of organisation in the field of cultural amateur activities. While they are government-funded, non-profit membership-based organisations, their members are federations of voluntary organisations of the popular movement type. Their function is to offer popular education activities to the members of these organisations, as well as to the general public. Since 1991, their national government funding is distributed by the Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet). The Council is a non-profit association with three official members: the National Association of Local and Regional Authorities (representing the large number of folk high schools organised by regional governments), the Interest Organisation of Popular Movement Folk High Schools (representing the folk high schools organised by voluntary organisations), and the Swedish National Federation of Study Associations (Folkbildningsförbundet, representing the study associations). Most of the established voluntary organisations of the country are involved in these structures, generally as members of study associations. While study associations are highly professionalised organisations with large administrations, they also make use of a large number of volunteers at the most practical levels of their work.
Another exception from the typical case is the registered religious denominations. The largest of these is the Church of Sweden, with 6.4 million members. When analysing trends in the Swedish voluntary sector, it is thus worth noting that the Church of Sweden was separated from the state in 2000. It is thus now a part of the voluntary sector. Before 2000 it was, on the other hand, a public body. The size of the voluntary sector can thus be said to have increased significantly, without any major change in the habits of the population.
However, studies indicate that the voluntary sector in Sweden is increasingly organised in non-profit associations with a more limited number of members and a large number of non-member supporters and volunteers. It is possible that the younger generation is not, as has been suggested, sceptical towards the voluntary organisation as a form, but simply takes a more practical approach to it, placing the activity before the organisational form. It could also be that organisations of the old model are decreasing in importance and that cultural activities are increasingly organised in new ways. One should, however, not assume that the new modes of organisation are entirely different from the old ones. New movements and forms of culture are often cooperating with older organisations, even when they themselves are more informally organised. The organisational forms of new cultural expressions appear to still be an open issue.
Last update: November, 2016
Since implementation of policies is typically a matter for government agencies rather than for the ministries themselves, inter-agency cooperation is much more common than direct inter-ministerial cooperation.
Several government agencies – primarily the Swedish Arts Council and the National Heritage Board – are cooperating with and supporting the regional and local levels of government. Cooperation between the national and regional levels in cultural policy is organised according to the Cultural Cooperation Model (see chapter 2.1). Under this model, nationally supported regional cultural policies are determined by agreements between the national and the regional governments.
In 2009 the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications increased cooperation on issues relating to creative industry. This is currently the main area for inter-ministerial cooperation. This cooperation supported by The Council for Cultural and Creative Industries. The Council is charged with supporting the government in its work with the national work plan on cultural and creative industries, but also with "initiating and stimulating a broader discussion on culture and creativity, what these can mean both for business and for society at large." Both ministries are also financing programmes relating to creative industry (see also chapter 3.5.1).
Culture Councils currently exist at the Swedish embassies in Beijing, Berlin, Istanbul, London, Moscow, Paris and Washington, and at the Swedish Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels. These representatives of Swedish culture are appointed by the Ministry of Culture but integrated in each embassy, part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see chapter 1.4.1).
Together with the National Heritage Board, the Swedish Arts Council runs the EU contact office for culture in Sweden, Cultural Contact Point Sweden (see chapter 1.4.1).
Last update: November, 2016
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.
Last update: November, 2016
Table 4: Cultural institutions financed by public authorities, by domain
|Domain||Cultural institutions (subdomains)||Number (2014)||Trend (++ to --)|
|Cultural heritage||Cultural heritage sites (recognised)||1700*||+|
|Archives (of public authorities)||***||-|
|Visual arts||Public art galleries / exhibition halls||****||+-|
|Art academies (or universities)||9||+-|
|Performing arts||Symphonic orchestras||7|
Music / theatre academies |
|Music theatres, opera houses||7||+-|
|Dance and ballet companies||****|
|Books and Libraries||Libraries||360||-|
|Interdisciplinary||Socio-cultural centres / cultural houses||****|
Sources: Information from the Swedish Arts Council, Swedish Agency for Cultural Analysis, Kungliga Biblioteket, Teaterunionen, Sveriges yrkesmusikerförbund (SYMF), Sveriges music- och kulturskolor (SMoK) and the National Heritage Board.
* Nationally significant legally protected heritage milieus. Statistics on the total number of government financed heritage sites and buildings on all levels of government is not available.
** Around 230 museums fulfil ICOM’s definition of a museum, including having a minimum of one fulltime employee.
*** All public authorities are constitutionally required to have archives.
**** Information does not exist.
Last update: November, 2016
With the exception of cinemas, amusement parks, a few private theatres and a number of private art collections and heritage sites, all major cultural institutions are financed by the national, regional or local governments. Most of them are owned and maintained by public authorities. The majority of the national cultural institutions are located in the capital. The national government also contributes to regional and municipal cultural institutions.
Most central museums are under government authority
and most of them are organised as parts of government agencies. A few
museums have the legal status of foundations, but there is little
practical difference in their relationship to the government. The
government stipulates instructions and regulations, appoints boards, and
is responsible for supporting them financially. For historical reasons,
most cultural institutions are located in the capital. However, the
newer Museum of World Cultures is located in Gothenburg and the Maritime
Museum is located in Karlskrona. Two national stages, the Royal Opera
and the Royal Dramatic Theatre, are organised as limited liability
companies, with the state as sole shareholder. These companies are not
financially self-supporting; they receive 70-80% of their annual budgets
from the state funds for culture.
National touring institutions
National touring institutions have a long tradition in Swedish cultural policy, forming an intermediary level between the national and the regional organisation. The most important institutions are production organisations operating in the field of theatre (Riksteatern) and art exhibitions (Riksutställningar). A similar organisation for music – Rikskonserter – existed, but was discontinued in 2010. Riksutställningar is now planed to be merged into the National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) in a reform intended to create a more coherent organisation for museum and heritage management. Riksteatern is based on a large number of regional theatre associations. Their common goal is to make high quality events in theatre and visual arts available in all parts of Sweden. Riksteatern is now emphasising the role of member associations and thus its role in civil society, somewhat in contrast with its previous emphasis on its role as a national institution.
Regional and municipal institutions
Regional cultural institutions are mostly run as foundations or limited liability companies, in which the county and / or municipal authorities are the owners. There are also examples of institutions that are integrated in the county or municipal administrations. Regardless of organisational structure, the counties / municipalities bear most of the financial responsibility for these institutions. In recent years, a few theatres and even a museum have been transformed into public limited companies. The state allocates important financial support to the regional institutions. Access to EU structural funds, and earmarked money for cultural projects, has become increasingly important at regional levels.
Last update: November, 2016
Several government agencies and other public actors are relevant to cultural diplomacy, reporting to either the Ministry of Culture or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Swedish Institute (Svenska Institutet, SI), together with the Swedish Arts Council, is responsible for supporting and initiating activities promoting international cultural exchanges. The SI is also charged with issues regarding information on Sweden abroad and with facilitating exchanges in the spheres of education, research and public life in general. The SI has special assignments as part of its regular international development work and as part of its work in Central and Eastern Europe. It falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and cooperates with Swedish embassies and consulates throughout the world.
The Swedish Arts Council and the National Heritage Board function as contact points for cultural programmes within the EU, and operate the EU Cultural Contact Point in Sweden. The aim of these offices, which operate in 33 countries, is to promote European cultural cooperation, with special emphasis on cultural partnership projects, participation in European networks and translation of European literature.
The Swedish Arts Council also administers the Swedish–South African Cultural Partnership Programme. In South Africa, the equivalent responsibility lies with the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture. The Programme was launched in 2004. Swedish cultural institutions actively exchange and co-operate with colleagues in many parts of the world and take part in many international organisations and networks. The Swedish Arts Council gives grants for international cultural exchange, e.g. for performances, seminars, support to the national committees of cultural NGOs, etc. The Council also manages the government insurance provisions for exhibitions on loan.
Culture Councils currently exist at the Swedish embassies in Beijing, Berlin, Istanbul, London, Moscow, Paris and Washington, and at the Swedish Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels. These representatives of Swedish culture are appointed by the Ministry of Culture but integrated in each embassy (part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). They are charged with promoting cultural exchanges with the host country and stimulate cultural dialogue. The head of the Swedish Cultural Centre in Paris is simultaneously also Culture Council at the Swedish embassy in Paris.
The International Artists Studio Programme in Sweden (IASPIS) offers artist in residence grants to visiting artists and supports artists from Sweden exhibiting abroad. The programme is connected to the Academy of Arts in Stockholm and to other cities in Sweden such as Göteborg, Malmö and Umeå.
In addition to The Nordic Ministers’ Culture Fund in Copenhagen, there are also bilateral funds available for the Nordic countries to realise common projects. In an effort to re-organise Nordic cultural cooperation, Nordic Culture Point was set up by the Nordic Council of Ministers in January 2007. Its mandate is to promote Nordic cultural co-operation as well as promoting Nordic culture internationally (see http://www.kulturkontaktnord.org).
The Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) reports to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and is responsible for most of Sweden's contributions to international development cooperation. The goal of SIDA´s work is to improve the standard of living around the world and, in the long term, to eradicate poverty. SIDA is responsible for developing cultural support and exchange projects, closely linked to their general support to third world countries. Throughout the years, SIDA has supported large cultural exchange projects, developed in cooperation with NGO's such as the Swedish-African Museum Programme (SAMP). Today SIDA play a less central role in cultural affairs, prioritising other issues and methods instead.
Inter(-trans)national cooperation on the regional and local levels are highly varied between different local and regional governments.
Last update: November, 2016
The Ministry of Culture is responsible for coordinating international cooperation within cultural policy. It is also responsible for the cultural attachés at Swedish embassies. The Ministry of Education is responsible for the Swedish cooperation within the UNESCO and for the Swedish UNESCO Council. Much of the work with international cooperation also takes place within government agencies reporting to the Ministry of Culture. Regarding such work see chapter 1.4.1.
Much cooperation in the cultural sphere takes place within Nordic cooperation (more information can be found at the website of the Nordic Council http://www.norden.org/en).
EU membership has brought new perspectives and possibilities for international cultural co-operation through the Culture Programme, as well as helping to realise cultural projects on a regional level through EU-Structural Funds or on a transnational level through European Territorial Co-operation. Much of the work of the Swedish Cultural Contact Point currently focuses on increasing the number of Swedish applications for various grants made available by the EU for cultural endeavours.
The Swedish Arts Council represents Sweden in two of the OMC groups (Open Method of Coordination groups) on the European Union’s Agenda for Culture. The objective of these groups is to produce recommendations on cultural areas, as well as identify good examples. OMC is a method of EU institutions to communicate with their member states. It is also a forum for cooperation on issues with no legislation on the European level. Sweden is also represented in two other such other groups: “Skills and Mobility" and “Cultural heritage”, where Sweden is represented by the Arts Grants Committee and the National Museum of Arts, respectively.
Last update: November, 2016
There is an extensive tradition of international professional cooperation, particularly within the Nordic region, involving, in practice, all major Swedish cultural institutions, government agencies and major NGOs. International cooperation is also increasingly common on the regional and local levels, especially within the EU. EU funding also play an increasing role in local and regional cultural policy, although this role is still less developed than in most other European countries and Sweden receives relatively little EU funding for cultural projects.
Government measures are now being taken in order to further stimulating cultural institutions and professionals in Sweden to broaden their international scope. The International Artists Studio Programme in Sweden (IASPIS) offers artist in residence grants to visiting artists and supports artists from Sweden exhibiting abroad. Sweden is also an active member of The Organising Committee of Ars Baltica, which was founded in 1988 to enhance cultural exchange and co-operation among the countries of the Baltic Sea region.