The Swedish Arts Council comes under the auspices of the Department of Culture, and the Council's budget and remit are determined annually by the Swedish government.
The activities of the Swedish Arts Council are driven by the national objectives for cultural policy which are governed by the remit of the Swedish government and parliament, by legislation and various regulations.
Cultural policy objectives state that everyone should be given the opportunity to participate in cultural life and cultural activities, and also the opportunity to take part in creative activity of their own. Promoting cultural development and making culture accessible – in every respect – are the two overriding aims of the Swedish Arts Council.
Allocation of grants and support for cultural activities
State funding for culture in Sweden amounts to roughly SEK 6.8 billion per year, equivalent to 0.8% of overall government spending. Of this total, the Swedish Arts Council allocates around SEK 1.8 billion in the form of grants to the performing arts, contemporary arts and museums, plus literature, arts periodicals and libraries, etc.
Much of this funding, around SEK 1 billion, goes to the performing arts. All over Sweden there are theatres, orchestras of various kinds and dance groups. Those who work and perform in these cultural institutions are all professionally trained in their own art form. County councils and regional authorities also receive state funding via the Council for the promotion of music in each county.
Independent theatre, dance and music groups are also eligible for grants from the Council. Such groups in Sweden frequently tour with their performances, often performing for children and young people.
Other beneficiaries of Council-allocated state funding are organisations that arrange concerts and dance performances some art galleries and professional organisations for musicians, artists, writers, crafts practitioners and photographers, etc.
To safeguard the freedom of expression is one of the objectives of national cultural policy. Arts periodicals provide a forum for debate, allowing many different voices to be heard. Yet in Sweden it is often difficult to get hold of these periodicals in shops or from news stands. As such, the Council is working to increase the distribution and reading of arts periodicals. It does this by offering subscription grants for municipal libraries, providing funding for improved distribution and support for periodicals workshops owned jointly by the periodicals themselves. In these, editorial teams can provide mutual help with production, marketing and skills development. In addition there are production grants given to a great number of arts periodicals.
The Swedish Arts Council also promotes both quality and diversity in the publication of literature and recorded music (phonogram). This means that the Council is able to provide funding for publishers and record companies in Sweden to publish certain newly-produced works of value both in artistic terms and also in respect of cultural policy. The Council also ensures that, through the municipal libraries around the country, the general public can borrow the literature that has received public funding.
The Council allocates funding for the pictorial arts and design, and also to county museums around the country. County museums, along with county theatres, county music organisations and county libraries, are part of the network of cultural institutions that help to realise Sweden's cultural policy objectives.
Culture for all
The Swedish government has given the Council the tasks of promoting the right of children and young people to culture, encouraging cultural diversity, and fostering equality. These issues must be addressed in all operational areas.
The Swedish Arts Council is also responsible for disability policy in the field of culture. Cultural institutions all over Sweden receive support in their efforts to produce plans to improve the opportunities for people with disabilities to access various buildings and to take part actively in cultural life on the same terms as able-bodied persons.