Intercult är med i Nordic Forum for Interculture (NFI), som i december arrangerar en konferens i Oslo som ska handla om verktyg och strategier för en alltmer inkluderande kulturell sektor. I december publiceras också “In Search for True Inclusion and Practice – An overview of texts, projects and practice on cultural diversity in the arts and culture sector in the Nordic region” i sin helhet, en rapport sammanställd av NFI. Läs Intercults del I rapporten redan nu – ett smakprov om Sveriges kulturpolitik:

CULTURAL POLICY IN SWEDEN- in a changing political and economic times.
Background
From “Tid för kultur” regeringens prop 2009/10:3 the meaning of culture appears. It states that the swedish government’s work should have the aim of Sweden to be tolerant and humane, and that culture must be relevant for all swedish population. No one should feel excluded from taking part in different parts of the cultural life, just because of one’s background or religion. It is in this proposition that the 2009 goals are presented, same national political cultural goals that apply today.

Around 1,9 million people in Sweden are born in another country according to Statistics Sweden (SCB December 2018, Utrikes födda i Sverige). It came around 133 000 Immigrants to Sweden in 2018. The highest number so far of people migrating to Sweden was in 2016 when around 163 000 people came. This means that a lot of people of different backgrounds live in Sweden. This highly speaks for the importance of culture to work as a place where everyone has the same right and opportunity to take part in, which is one of the main national cultural goals.

2013-2017
The recent years the Swedish cultural sector has experienced some new initiatives regarding cultural diversity, integration and inclusion. In the report Culture all over the country published in 2017 the government made a conclusion on the cultural policies work during the period 2013-2017 (Skr 2017/18:264 Kultur I hela landet). The report states that during that mandate period the government prepared a political path with some important budget steps regarding culture: prepared a strategy for the state financing of municipal cultural schools, Introduced a grant of 100 Mkr per year for municipal cultural schools; Introduced a grant of 250 Mkr per year in order to support the libraries between 2018 and 2020; Introduced a targeted grant of to a state project for culture in socially challenged suburbs Taking Place ( Äga rum ); Created new policies for movie making with a national responsibility and goals compelled by the parliament; Prepared new policies on cultural heritage and shaped environment; Strengthened the freelance artists and organizations with 115 Mkr per year from 2018, considered being a big step in financing of free theaters, new projects and individual creators; Strengthened the state aid to regional and local culture within cultural cooperation through additional contribution of 429 Mkr for 2017-2020; Established an investigation on the artists’ conditions “Konstnärernas villkor” (dir. 2016:93) and thereafter a report (SOU 2018:23) with propositions to create better opportunities for professional free artist in all the country. This indicates that the government’s 2013-2017 investments in culture has been consistent to the national cultural-political goals put forward by the Swedish parliament in 2009. The three main goals can be summarized as the independence objective, the participation objective and the societal objective.

  • Our culture shall be a dynamic, challenging and unbound force, with freedom of expression as its foundation.
  • Everyone shall have the opportunity to participate in the cultural life.
  • The development of our society shall be characterised by creativity, diversity and artistic quality.

The Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis (Myndigheten för Kulturanalys) refer to these goals in their report ”Culture analysis 2019” suggesting that the different policy areas should be more connected with one another. The Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis implies that in the times of changing economic conditions the different departments should strengthen their cooperation, especially cooperation between culture and education. This could in turn increase the chances for reaching the cultural policy goals. Stronger cooperation between different policy areas could have a positive effect on broadening perspectives on culture and free the resources.

2016, towards the end of the Mandate period
It has worked for culture to be accessible all over Sweden through grants to regional municipalities, the so-called culture collaboration model. Culture has, therefore, been, for the government, an active part of the rural policies to improve social conditions in communities in sparsely populated areas. A conclusion from “Culture all over the country” is that the government pointed out to the parliament wanting the Cultural partnership model to be adjusted to make culture more accessible there, and 21 Mkr has been granted for the countryside and sparsely populated areas per year 2019 and 2020. In the spring budget for 2016, the Government invested 44 Mkr in safeguarding the open society and democracy, and combating polarisation, racism and violent extremism. “We need to invest in Sweden that keeps together. In the Government’s commitment to building our society, we therefore give priority to investing in culture throughout the country, and efforts to combat polarisation in society. Civil society and libraries have a key role in the ambition to create meeting places,” said Minister for Culture and Democracy presenting the budget 2016. Everybody should have the opportunity to access what we own together, said the Minister re-introducing the free admission to state museums in 2016, allowing people to enjoy art, history, architecture and culture at over a dozen museums in the country for free.

2018- 2019 The new Government
In 2018, there were new general elections in Sweden and the country spent four months without an appointed government with strategies and declared policies. The parliamentary situation did not ease for a majority government. The first state budget passed by the parliament was more restrictive on culture than the previous one. In January 2019 a new government was finally elected with Amanda Lind from the Swedish Green Party (MP) appointed as the new Minister for Culture and Democracy. She pointed out that the grants for culture schools should be brought back, and the free entrance to state museums should be maintained since the Swedish cultural heritage should be more available and accessible. The museum admission remained free of charge as well as government grants to culture schools were reintroduced in the Amending Spring Budget 2019, and approved in the final budget autumn 2019 (100 Mkr). In total the final budget for culture 2019 was SEK 15,8 Billion

As mentioned about the national cultural-political goals, anyone should have the possibility to take part of Sweden’s cultural life. However, culture sector in regions and municipalities worries strongly as experiencing not only diminishing budgets and grants but also very radical, immediate initiatives taken by the newly elected local governments. In Stockholm, closing of the international library attracted the attention of the general public, causing strong reactions on social media. The central library closed in September 2019 to prepare for a new opening at a local library 2020. The decision was considered necessary to adjust the costs of the libraries in Stockholm to financial ability. The new library will focus on activities and resources that will promote integration of migrants into society, such as language cafés and book clubs for multilingual people and families, according to the head librarian Daniel Forsman a step favoring the cultural political goal regarding making culture more accessible for young people and children. Jonas Naddebo, the newly elected politician responsible for culture in The City of Stockholm, also introduced the idea of privatization of libraries, following the example of Municipality of Nacka which made all their libraries private in 2017. The discussion is a good example of how the culture in Stockholm must adjust to new economic priorities. It is worth to mention that loans of books at the public libraries in Stockholm are growing (3% in 2018). 25 Mkr for 2020 and 2021 will be used for reading promotion.

There are many other examples in Stockholm where culture is being privatized, a trend setting within the area of a new cultural policy. In Municipality of Botkyrka a new private Art Hall has just been launched for the local citizens at the same time as the municipality-owned cultural center closed. In spring 2019 the new public library in Fittja and the Art Hall in Botkyrka were moved into the same building, creating an accessible place for culture for the people in Botkyrka. Fittja library was in fact one of the candidates for the “library of the year 2019”. During autumn 2019 The Art Hall introduced a successful initiative rooted in the heart of the suburb, Art Talks by artist Nachla Libre about art. The talks are about personal passions combined with responsibility for the society and the change making role of arts.

Moving further to Regions, the tendency of diminishing budgets is a clear risk for cultural infrastructure being in a worse economic condition the coming years. With the Cultural cooperation modelthe Swedish Arts Council channels the grants for culture to regional governments. The goal has been to give the Regions autonomy on decisions how to use the state grant together with regional money on culture with mandate to take into account the local needs. The regions thus develop own cultural plans showing the usage of the state grant and the regional grant together. However, the predictions are that the unstable regional economy will negatively influence the regional cultural budgets and thus put more responsibility on the Cultural cooperation model (Kultursamverkansmodellen). The first example was the region of Skåne (Scania). Due to demands on overall savings the regional government in Skåne decided 2018 on the cultural budget cuts on 17,1 Mkr, mainly for free organizations, and culture sector reacted with protests. More or less 4000 signatures against the cuts were collected in connection with the Culture Committees of Skånes meeting. Despite the actions, the Culture Committees work plan and budget for 2019 shows a substantial budget reduction for arts and culture in Region Skåne followed by a budget reduction from Swedish Arts Council.

The cultural political goal of participation is still a big concern for culture politics in Sweden, both broad participation in cultural activities and access to culture in different parts of the country. The local cultural work has continuously an extra big importance regarding integration and inclusion with the purpose of increasing democratic participation in cultural life and in the society. The Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysisin the report from 2019 states that to reach the goals for culture with diminishing resources, cultural sector needs more inter-regional cooperation; more free state grants on top of the cultural cooperation model, more cooperation between state and regions to agree on priorities. There is a need of increasing knowledge about project development and grant givers to develop more stable organisations beside the public grants. There is especially a need of updating policies regarding the cross-sectorial questions like diversity, as culture institutions have troubles with definition of diversity.

Budget autumn 2019 was presented in September as “Reforms for a stronger society”. For culture, support was reintroduced for cultural schools; support will be given for school trips to memory places of the Holocaust and for reading promotion. The big national institutions also got support, like the National Museum and the Royal Opera in Stockholm. However, the budget release was followed by mixed reactions: Länsteatrarna (the Swedish Regional Theaters) published an open letter demanding more support within the framework of the cultural cooperation model granted by the state. They also point out that culture should take a bigger part of the total state budget. Länsmuseerna (the Swedish organisation for regional museums) were also disappointed with the budget. The regional museums cooperation council (Samarbetsråd) has previously warned about institutions facing great economic difficulties. With the new budget they fear that every third regional museum will have to decrease their number of staff members. In a letter from November 2019 Regional Theaters expressed thoughts of the entire Swedish culture sector in changing political times: In a time of threats and restrictions on cultural freedom, Länsteatrarna in Sweden feels a strong need to gather the good forces in the country around the fight for a free cultural life and regionally produced performing arts throughout the country.

Without a free cultural life, society becomes more exclusive and limiting. Without a free cultural life, we will be a nation less equipped to meet all the challenges and opportunities of the future. Culture gives us air, power, hope and joy – we cherish a free and inclusive cultural life for generations to come!

Fullständig källförteckning med referenser kommer finnas tillgänglig när rapporten är publicerad. Bild från projektet Brokering Migrants’ Cultural Participation.