3. Cultural and creative sectors
Last update: December, 2021
The latest significant changes in Swedish heritage policy were introduced with Government Bill 2016/17:116, introducing a new museum law, and confirming existing objectives for heritage policy. The Museum Law (2017:563) regulates the primary roles of public, i.e. national, regional, and municipal, museums, defining a museum as “an institution that is open to the public, and which acquires, preserves, investigates, mediates, and exhibits material and intangible testimonies about mankind, and her environment” (Swedish Code of Statutes 2017:563, §2). It includes measures to protect their independence vis-à-vis political involvement. In the bill, the government also discussed general issues concerning policies on heritage and the cultural environment (see also 4.2.2).
As of Government Bill 2012/13:96 (Parliamentary Committee on Culture 2012/13:KrU9, rskr. 2012/13:273), the national objectives of Swedish policies on the heritage and cultural environment are to promote
- a sustainable society with a diversity of cultural environments that are preserved, used and developed;
- the participation of people in public work in the cultural environment, and providing opportunities to understand, and take responsibility, for the cultural environment;
- an inclusive society with the cultural environment as a common source of knowledge, education, and experiences; and
- a holistic view of landscape management, and that the cultural environment should be utilized in the development of society (Government Bill 2012/13:96).
The Swedish National Heritage Board is the government agency responsible for matters concerning cultural environment preservation, cultural heritage, and museums. The objectives of the Board include taking a proactive and inspirational role in cultural heritage efforts, as well as promoting a society that is sustainable in the long term and everyone's ability to understand, participate in and take responsibility for their own cultural environment. The National Heritage Board and many of the museums and other heritage institutions in Sweden are currently working on increasing their emphasis on proactive work, encouraging discussions on the use of narratives as a focus for organising heritage presentation. Much of this work focuses on making both exhibitions and the national heritage more inclusive to all parts of the population. Main themes in this work have included civil society and the inclusion of minority perspectives in the heritage preserved and presented by government supported agencies and institutions. In 2015, the archaeological activities of the National Heritage Board were transferred to the National Museums of History. In 2016, it was announced that the National Touring Exhibitions would be merged with the National Heritage Board, which was given increased responsibility in the area of museum policy.
On the regional level, County Administrative Boards (Länstyrelser) are responsible for issues relating to the cultural environment. It is they who decide on matters related to the National Heritage Act within their regions, and who are responsible for ensuring that protection of the cultural environment is taken into account in regional planning and development. The county administrative boards also allocate state funds for the restoration of historic buildings, ancient monuments and historic landscapes within their regions. Together with the County Administrative Boards, regional museums work to protect cultural heritage. Their tasks include collecting and disseminating knowledge about the cultural heritage of the country. Regional museums are often involved in the care or restoration of buildings, ancient monuments and historic landscapes. At the local level, many municipalities run municipal museums, often labelled as city museums.
In the last few years, issues relating to museums have been the topic of reoccurring discussions in the media, mostly focusing on allegations against the government of politicizing and instrumentalizing museums, and cultural heritage in general, through increased ideological regulation. The suggested merger of the Mediterranean Museum, the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, and the Museum of Ethnography, has been used as an example of this tendency. The introduction of a museum law, and its emphasis on the independence of museums, may at least partially be understood in the context of this criticism (Harding 2021, 2022).
Last update: December, 2021
The Swedish government’s work with archives and libraries has a long history. The first regulations for the National Archive were formulated in 1618, and the Royal Library has similarly ancient origins. National archive policy is intrinsically connected to the provisions for public access to official and public documents guaranteed in the Swedish constitution (see chapter 4.1.1), while library policies are connected to central aspects of Swedish cultural policy, such as equal access to culture, and public education. As a central feature of Swedish cultural policy, several recent debates on cultural policy have been relevant to this area.
As established in the Library Law (2013:801) §2 “Libraries in the public library system shall work for the development of a democratic society by contributing to the dissemination of knowledge and the free formation of opinions. Libraries in the public library system shall promote the position of literature and the interest in education, enlightenment, education and research, as well as cultural activities in general. Library activities must be available to everyone.” The same law also establishes that each municipality must provide its inhabitants with a public library. Other than municipal libraries, the legislation also covers school libraries, university libraries, regional libraries, and all other publicly financed libraries. In 2020, this included a total of 2201 libraries (35 fewer than the previous year). The coordinating government agency for this sector is the Royal Library, which also collects all printed works published in Sweden.
The library related issues that have been discussed in the last few years include access to school libraries. According to the library statistics of 2020, approximately 45 percent of pupils in primary and secondary school have access to a school library with at least part-time staff. For 2018−2020, the government allocated SEK 250 million annually to "increase the supply of and increase accessibility to public library activities." In municipal libraries, there has been an increase in harassment and threats towards librarians. A survey conducted by the librarian trade union, published in 2019, showed that librarians' work situation includes aspects of social unrest, insecurity and violations as well as hatred and threats, and that this situation was especially grave for female librarians, and in libraries in suburban areas (DIK 2019). Public debate concerning libraries and library policy has also included criticism of political bias in libraries. This criticism has been reoccurring, especially against left-wing political bias in the literature made available in libraries. A research study describing the left-wing bias of certain librarian organizations (Blomgren & Sundeen 2020) has also caused some debate.
Swedish public archives are regulated in the Archive Law (1990:782).The purposes of the state archives’ activities expressed in the Archives Act (Bill 1989/90: 72, amendment 1989/90: KrU29, rskr. 1989/90: 307) are:
- to increase the opportunities for access to public documents and other archival material,
- to clarify and strengthen the importance of archives as a source of information and knowledge about society and its development, and
- method and knowledge development within the archive area.
The coordinating government agency in this area is the National Archive.
In 2019, a government commission submitted the report Härifrån till evigheten: En långsiktig arkivpolitik för förvaltning och kulturarv (”From here to eternity: A long term archive policy for administration and cultural heritage”, SOU 2019:158). It proposed that the archive law should be revised, updating archive policy for a digitalized society and focusing on 1) the right of the public to take part in public documents, 2) the information needs of administration and justice, and 3) the needs of research. The commission also recommended that the Royal Library, the Swedish Institute, the Swedish Film Institute, the Swedish Performing Arts Agency, and the National Archive should be made jointly responsible for making a national inventory of audiovisual material and to investigate the conditions for an implementation of the digitization of the material.
Last update: December, 2021
Support for performing arts, such as theatre, opera, and dance, have long been a central part of Swedish cultural policy. The Royal Opera dates back to the 18th century, the Royal Dramatic Theatre to the 19th century, and the National Touring Theatre to the early part of the 20th century. Today, the two main government agencies supporting activities in the performing arts are the Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) and the Swedish Performing Arts Agency (Musikverket). The main actors in this field on the national level also include institutions such as The Royal Opera, The Royal Dramatic Theatre, The National Touring Theatre, The House of Dance, and The Drottningholm Palace Theatre. Most of these institutions are organized either in the form of government supported foundations, or as government-owned and government-supported limited companies. Regardless of organizational form, they are supported with grants in the national budget. The National Touring Theatre is a national government-supported non-profit organization providing theatre performances all over the country.
On the regional and local levels, all regions have regional theatres, and some cities have city theatres. These have long received government funding, which is now included in the Culture Cooperation Model (see chapter 1.2.3 and 1.2.6). In order to increase the availability of dance performances outside of the bigger cities, several dance institutions (including theatres, opera houses, and concert halls) cooperate in the government supported network Dansnät Sverige. In 2019, the Swedish Arts Council distributed approximately SEK 195 million in grants to organizations in the area of theatre, dance and music, and SEK 904 million for theatre, dance, and music purposes within the Cultural Collaboration Model. The performing arts have seen relatively severe consequences during the Covid-19 pandemic, even though they have received significant additional government support during this period.
Last update: December, 2021
The Swedish Arts Council distributes operating grants and project grants within the image and form area. These funds are distributed projects and organizations within the various art forms. The Swedish Arts Grants Committee distributes grants to individual artists. In 2018, the Swedish Arts Council initiated a three-year project on knowledge development for public art and the design of public environments. A number of networks and collaborations have been developed at regional and local level to increase knowledge exchange between actors.
The association Svensk Form works to stimulate development in Swedish design, and to spread and deepen knowledge of design issues in Sweden. It consists of 13 regional associations, working in each region to contribute to spreading knowledge about form and design through collaborations with municipality, region and industry organizations.
Other important government funded actors in the area of visual art are the national museums, and similar cultural institutions, working within this area, including the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Modern Art, the foundation Carl och Olga Milles Lidingöhem, the foundation for the Thiel Gallery, Bildmuseet, the Zorn Collections, and the foundation for Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde. In recent years, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum, and the Swedish Arts Council have collaborated to actively compensate for the historical under-representation of women artists' works in the collections of these museums by purchasing such works of art, with the aim of enabling more people to see a greater diversity of public works of art in their everyday lives.
In a report submitted in 2019, the Swedish Arts Council shows that insufficient knowledge, unclear divisions of responsibilities, and an unclear application of laws and regulations by national, municipal, and regional authorities has increased risks of damage and loss of building-related public works of art in 20th century cultural environments. As a result of this report, the National Heritage Board, in collaboration with the Swedish Arts Council, has been commissioned by the government to work to ensure that building-related public art is taken into account in cultural heritage valuation (Ku2019 / 01191 / KO).
Last update: December, 2021
The role of cultural and creative industries has been given increased importance since the year 2000. This has been evident in inter-ministerial cooperation on the national level, but even more so in cultural policies on the regional and local levels. 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.
The Government Commission on the Restart of Culture has proposed the creation of an inter-ministerial coordinating unit for government initiatives directed at the cultural and creative industries, as well as a fund for cofounding matching private initiatives in support of arts and culture (SOU 2021:77). Similar measures have been taken earlier. The Foundation for the Culture of the Future (Stiftelsen Framtidens kultur) was established by the government in 1994 to support long-term and innovative cultural projects, and stimulating regional culture in a wider sense. It ceased its operations in 2011. In its 2009 government bill on cultural policy (prop. 2009/10:3), the government created a new fund for similar purposes, the Culture Bridge (Kulturbryggan), which is currently administered by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, focusing on innovative arts and culture projects, rather than specifically on financially innovative projects.
In describing cultural and creative industries, the Swedish government generally uses the same definition as the EU. In national statistics, cultural and creative industries include architecture, audiovisual media, computer games, film and TV, radio, art, design, photo, archives, museums, historical and archaeological sites, press, literature, libraries, fashion, advertising, music, art education, and stage arts. Studies in this area have been performed by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) in collaboration with the Swedish Agency for Cultural Analysis, the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Evaluations and Analyzes (Tillväxtanalys), and Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån). In a 2018 report, they conclude that increased efforts have to be made not only to support this sector, but also to adequately measure its contributions to the economy, for example the contributions of digital production and of cultural and creative industries in regional growth. According to their studies, cultural and creative industries contributed 3.1 % of GDP in 2016, and there were approximately 130 000 businesses and 143 000 employees in the sector. During the period 2010–2016, the export of goods from cultural and creative industries increased from just over SEK 16 billion to almost SEK 21 billion. The number of companies increased by almost 15 000 from 2010 to 2016. The number of employees in the sector remained relatively stable during the same period. Most new companies had 0 employees (the owner of the company not counted). This highlights the importance of improving conditions for small businesses in order to strengthen cultural and creative industries, as well as other innovative businesses (Tillväxtverket 2021). There is now reason to believe that cultural and creative industries have been significantly hit by the Covic-19 pandemic and the measures taken against it (SOU 2021:77). In November 2021, the government appointed a special enquiry to propose a national strategy for the Cultural and Creative Industries.
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. 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.
Last update: December, 2021
The main public support for writers is the Swedish Authors’ Fund. Originators of literary works (authors, translators and illustrators) are compensated for lending in public libraries in accordance with the Government Statute on The Swedish Authors' Fund (1962:652). The Fund allocates this government compensation. A portion of this compensation is given to the individual author in direct proportion to the number of public loans of his / her work, while another portion is transferred to the Swedish Authors' Fund which awards grants and scholarships in support of authors, translators, playwrights and journalists in the field of arts. Since 1985, the size of government funds allocated to the Swedish Authors’ Fund, i.e. the Library Fee, is decided in agreements between, on the one hand, the government and, on the other hand, the Swedish Writers 'Association, the Swedish Illustrators, and the Swedish Photographers' Association. As of 2015, these agreements are negotiated biannually. In 2021 an agreement was made for 2022 and 2023, in which the parties agreed on a basic amount of SEK 2 for 2022, and SEK 2.04 for 2023. This gives a total sum of SEK 184.8 million for 2022 (an increase of SEK 3.7 million), and SEK 188.5 million SEK for 2023 (an increase of SEK 3.7 million). In 2021, the government allocated an additional SEK 18 million to the Swedish Authors’ Fund as part of a special stimulus package to alleviate the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic in this part of the cultural sector.
Press and media are supported by the government via The Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority, with the intention of promoting diversity in the general news media on both the national and local level. This funding is distributed in to two main forms of financial support: press support and media support. Press Support is aimed at supporting the distribution and production of regularly published newspapers (paper or digital) with a minimum of 1 500 paying subscribers. It is allocated to all newspapers meeting the criteria. Media Support is aimed at all general media (including web-based media, printed newspapers, radio, and television) whose main purpose is to convey news. Media support is allocated in three forms: Support for local journalism, Innovation and development support and Editorial support. In 2020, a total of SEK 600 million was granted in Press Support.
Last update: December, 2021
With Government Bill 2015/16:132, a new film policy was established, including seven new objectives for the national film policy:
- Development and production of valuable Swedish film is done continuously in the entire country.
- More people to see valuable film, which is to be distributed and shown in various ways, in the entire country.
- Film heritage to be preserved, used, and developed.
- Swedish film to be increasingly made available abroad and quality international exchange and cooperation to take place in the area of film.
- Children and young people to have good knowledge about film and moving pictures, and given the opportunity to create on their own,
- Equality and diversity to characterize the film area.
- Film to contribute to the strengthening of freedom of speech and public discourse.
The central authority in Swedish film policy is The Swedish Film Institute (SFI). Prior to 2017, SFI was co-financed by the national government and other actors within the film sector, as per the Film Agreement (which had been renegotiated every fifth year by these parties since 1963). Since 2017, and as a part of the new film policy outlined in Government Bill 2015/16:132, grants and programmes within Swedish film policy are now entirely funded by the government. Among the arguments for this reform was providing a more stable platform for government support for the film sector.
Public service TV and radio broadcasting is provided by three companies funded by a special tax on personal income: Swedish Television (Sveriges Television, SVT), Swedish Radio (Sveriges Radio) and Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (Sveriges Utbildningsradio). These are organized as limited companies, and owned by an independent foundation. The foundation's board is appointed by the national government and consists of 13 representatives of the political parties in the Riksdag. The foundation in turn appoints the members of the SVT board.
Government support for computer games and similar media has so far been limited, but it did occur within specific programmes, e.g. within the SFI’s work with Creative Europe grants. The Swedish Media Council acts as the central authority in the wider area of media policy.
Last update: December, 2021
The two most important government actors supporting artists and projects in the area of music are the Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) and the Swedish Performing Arts Agency (Statens musikverk). On the regional level, all regions in the country support activities in the area of music, including regional orchestras.
The Swedish Arts Council is a government agency responsible for supporting arts and culture in general, focusing on institutions, organizations, and groups, rather than on individual artists. It is a central agency in relation to the music sector. Relevant grants from the Arts Council include grants to the regions, to regional music organizations and institutions, to producers of music, and for international cultural exchange. This includes e.g. development grants for regional music activities, e.g. for developing new audiences, tours, or collaboration between different art forms. In 2019, the Swedish Arts Council distributed approximately SEK 195 million in grants to organizations in the areas of theatre, dance and music and SEK 904 million for theatre, dance, and music purposes within the Cultural Collaboration Model.
The Swedish Performing Arts Agency (Statens musikverk) is a government agency for the support of music and performing arts. It was created in 2011, gathering a number of preexisting organizations, including the Museum of Performing Arts (Scenkonstmuseet), the Swedish Music and Theatre Library, EMS (an electronic music studio), and the record label Caprice Records. In 2019, the Swedish Performing Arts Agency distributed funds to 138 collaborative music projects run by non-governmental actors.
Last update: December, 2021
As of Government Bill 2017/18:110, the national objective for Swedish cultural policy in the area of architecture, form, and design is that “Architecture, form and design must contribute to a sustainable, equal, and less segregated society with carefully designed living environments, where everyone is given good conditions to influence the development of the common environment. The goal is to be achieved as follows:
- sustainability and quality will not be the subject of short-term economic considerations,
- knowledge of architecture, form and design will be developed and disseminated,
- the public sector acts will be exemplary,
- aesthetic, artistic and cultural-historical values will be utilized and developed,
- environments will be designed to be accessible to all, and
- cooperation and collaboration will be developed, domestically and internationally.”
The policy area includes several government agencies, and also affects municipalities in their work with city planning. The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (ArkDes), the Swedish Arts Council, and the Swedish National Heritage Board have a central role in this policy area. The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning has been charged by the government (N2018 / 02273 / SPN) to coordinate policy, monitor development, increase competence, and guide government agencies, regional councils, and municipalities in the area of architecture and planning.
The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (ArkDes) is a government agency and a collecting institution, acting as a knowledge centre in the area of architecture and design, focusing on the intersections between architecture, art, design, landscape and the public space, and including the implementation of Agenda 2030's goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production.
Last update: December, 2021
Tourism is a growing area of business in Sweden, and has received only limited political attention at the national level. In 2019, around 126 000 persons were employed in tourism related work, and tourism produced around 2.5 percent of GDP. Tourism consumption was SEK 306 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent compared with the previous year. Swedish internal tourism made up SEK 206 billion (an increase of 2.3 %), compared to SEK 100 billion spent by foreign tourists (a decrease of 2.5 %).Since then, tourism business has been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2017, a government commission of inquiry submitted a report proposing a coordination of national tourism policy under the overall objective “to enhance the tourism and hospitality industry’s contribution to economic, social and environmental components of sustainable development throughout the country” (SOU 2017:95, p. 23). Since then, a coordinating group has been created with representatives of relevant government agencies, with the National Heritage Board representing the culture sector.
In a report published by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) in cooperation with the Swedish Agency for Cultural Analysis, the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Evaluations and Analyzes (Tillväxtanalys), and Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån) in 2018, it was concluded that increased efforts ought to be made not only to support, but also to measure, the contribution of cultural and creative industries to tourism, e.g.“cultural values, social values and increased attractiveness of places associated with a production involving a significant element of creative processes, specialised manual processes and artistic presentations” (Tillväxtverket 2018).