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Programme for Artistic Freedom

This programme aims to strengthen artistic freedom globally during a three-year period (2021-2023). The contribution is only open for applications upon invitation by the Swedish Arts Council. The programme is realised through financial support from Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

The programme aims to support organisations that work to enhance artistic freedom in countries eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC).

The expected impact of the programme is:

  • Improved conditions for artists to create, display and distribute their work without being exposed to threats or harassments of governments or other stakeholders
  • Improved opportunities for all people to freely spread and access art and culture they themselves wish

The direct target group of the programme is organisations who work to promote and strengthen artistic freedom in countries eligible for ODA by OECD/DAC. The indirect target group of the programme are artists whose working conditions will be improved as a result of initiatives driven by the organisations supported within the programme. As well as the audience who will access an increased diversity of cultural expressions. Decision makers are also an indirect target group of the programme, who will benefit from increased awareness of artistic freedom and its importance to democratic governance.

The programme is funded by Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, within the framework of the Strategy for Sweden’s development cooperation in the areas of human rights, democracy and the rule of law 2018-2022.

Read more about the guiding principles  

  • This contribution is only open for applications upon invitation by the Swedish Arts Council.

    The applying partner must be a non-for-profit legal entity. Individuals are not eligible to apply.

    Eligible for support are organisations that work to enhance artistic freedom in countries eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC).

    DAC List of ODA Recipients

    The applying organisation can be registered as a national or international organisation and can be located in ODA-recipient or non-ODA recipient countries. The final main beneficiaries of the work shall be persons living in countries eligible for ODA.

  • You can apply for support to work that contributes to the objectives of the programme.

    The objectives of the programme are:

    • Improved conditions for artists to work without being subject to threats or harassment
    • In cases where an artist is unable to work in his or her own community, there are increased opportunities to access a safe haven
    • Increased number of countries with legislation that provides improved conditions for artists to freely create, display and distribute their work without being exposed to various forms of censorship
    • Increased capacity and networking on an international level, the development of a shared understanding, and knowledge of how the conditions for artists to work can be improved
    • Increased capacity of relevant actors to strengthen women’s opportunities to be artistically active.

    The programme is guided by a results assessment framework (RAF) which presents the programme objectives, outcomes and outputs. It is obligatory to contribute to outcome five of the programme, “increased capacity of relevant actors to strengthen women’s opportunities to be artistically active”.

    The time frame and scope of the implementation period is multiannual. It is expected to start in April 2021 and end at the latest 31st December 2023.

    Shorter-term projects can also be realised within this period. Depending on the applying organisations’ presentation of their capacities and needs, both project and core support can be realised. Core support implies support to the full work of the organisation and not only to the core functions of the organisation.

  • Your application is submitted online, via the Swedish Arts Council’s online service and according to the instructions by the Swedish Arts Council presented on occasion for application.

    The Swedish Arts Council is a Swedish government agency. All messages sent to, or created and stored by, a government agency in Sweden become official documents under the Freedom of the Press Act (1949: 105). The Swedish Arts Council is required by law to keep and archive public documents. Public documents can therefore only be deleted in specific cases.

    The principle of public access to official documents states that everyone has the right to access official documents. This means that if someone asks us to see an official document, we may have to disclose the document, including personal data. Before such disclosure takes place, a confidentiality review is conducted under the Public access to Information and Secrecy Act (2009:400).

    In the online application, you will be asked to fill in a results assessment framework, a budget, and an organisational self-assessment, risk assessment and management. The suggested project/programme shall be gender sensitised. In addition to this, we require that you submit the documents listed below. Please note that we do not accept any additional appendices than the ones listed.

    For all applicants:

    • License of registration
    • Statutes, dated
    • Latest annual narrative report
    • Latest annual financial report and audited financial report, signed by board, including auditor’s management letter
    • Contacts to references (one or two donors, previous or current)

    For core support applicants only:

    • The organisation’s strategic plan and results framework (or alike)
    • The organisation’s full budget including income
    • The organisation’s procurement guidelines if available
    • The organisation’s anti-corruption policy or guidelines if available
    • Any available reviews/audits/appraisals of the organisations work and of the internal system for organisational control (e.g. regarding capacity and routines for financial management and delivery of results)

    The Swedish Arts Council may ask for additional information for the assessment and may engage consultants for a review of systems for internal control and financial management.

    If an application is submitted after the announced deadline the basic rule is that the Swedish Arts Council may not be able to assess the application. If an application is incomplete and the applying organisation does not submit additional information in the time period communicated, the Swedish Arts Council cannot assess the application.

  • The applications are assessed by the programme team for Artistic Freedom at the Swedish Arts Council and an external Consulting Expert Group consisting of six to eight persons. Each application is assessed individually as well as against other applications in order to assess its contribution to the programme as a whole. The assessment is based on accessible funds for the programme. Decisions will be taken by the Swedish Arts Council and are communicated to you via e-mail. There is no appeal against the decision.

    If the programme team or consulting experts have expressed conflict of interest according to the anti-corruption guidelines of the Swedish Arts Council, they will not participate in the assessment. Conflict of interest will be documented in the decision of financial contributions.

    The Swedish Arts Council may decide to revise the assessment criteria and priorities.

    Assessment criteria

    The point of departure for assessment of applications is the relevance of the proposed project/programme towards the programme objectives (one or several), outcomes and outputs. In the online application you will access the results assessment framework for the programme.

    We will be looking at thematic and geographical complementarity in relation to other submitting organisations as well as to the global or regional reach of the organisations submitting concept notes. Gender mainstreaming is a requirement for contributions within this programme.

    Other criteria for assessment of applications are:

    • Effectiveness and cost efficiency – whether the set objectives of the programme/project are likely to be achieved, and whether the implementation strategy is an appropriate and cost-efficient way of achieving the objectives under the prevailing circumstances and given other alternatives.

    • Feasibility – assesses if the practical conditions exist for successful implementation of the programme/project, including anti-corruption policy and management. Do the implementing parties have the required capacity, resources and will for successful implementation?

    • Sustainability – assesses if a supported development effort maintains its effects at a reasonable level after the cessation of external support (or completion of project/programme) in terms of impact on human, institutional and financial resources. Ownership at impact level (including during planning, implementation and follow-up.)

    • Coordination and consultations – assess strengths and weaknesses in the interaction between the partner and its stakeholders and development partners. Attention to ownership and potential for knowledge exchange and synergies in relation to other applying organisations as well as in the field.

    • Risk and risk management – assesses internal or external risks and proposes measures to avoid or reduce such risks.

    Priority will be given to organisations working on a regional and global level, where regional refers to a group of countries. Initiatives on the national level can be given priority if they are assessed as particularly relevant to the programme objectives or contribute to standard setting or serve as examples particularly relevant to artistic freedom.

    Consideration of the poor people’s perspective and the rights perspective as well as the conflict perspective, gender equality and perspective on environment and climate will be assessed.

  • Agreements will be signed between the Swedish Arts Council and the receiving organisation. A list of grantees will be published on the Swedish Arts Council’s webpage.

    Terms and conditions for support from the Swedish Arts Council will apply as well as specific conditions for the Sida-funded contribution. The conditions will be part of the agreement.

    The conditions for core support and project support may vary.

  • The Programme for Artistic Freedom is open for short-term and long-term grants covering a maximum of three years. Annual narrative reports, including reporting against the results assessment framework, and annual audited financial reports are required as well as the submission of annual budgets and work plans. Annual reports, workplans and budgets will be submitted through the online service.

    Dates and conditions for annual reporting as well as for submission of annual budgets and work plans will be stated in the agreement for each organisation. Reporting will be made via the online service.

    The approval of annual work plans and budgets, as well as of narrative and financial and audit reports are a requirement for disbursements of funds. Disbursements can be on annual or bi-annual basis depending on the monetary need and the size of grant.

Contact us

Our phone hours on weekdays, except on public holidays, are: Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 09.00–11.00 a.m. Tuseday and Thursday at 01.00–03.00 p.m.


  • General issues and technical support

Emma Emitslöf

  • Programme Officer, Artistic Freedom Programme
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