The Kingdom of Sweden, a constitutional monarchy, situated on the Scandinavian peninsula, has the territory of 450,000 km² and the population of 8,89 million[1]. 83 per cent of the population is urban and 94 per cent of the population belong to the Evangelical Lutheran religion. Principal language is Swedish for the majority ethnic group of 89 per cent of Swedish people. Two per cent of Finns live in Sweden.

Sweden cooperates actively with the Nordic neighbours and in the cultural policy field within the framework of the Council of Europe. It is a member state of the European Union since 1995.

The economic and social standards of Sweden are among the highest in Europe. The extensive Swedish economic and welfare system is represented by high allocation for “social” issues. Health and social affairs represent the largest share of central government budget and then follow education and cultural affairs.

Until the 1940s, Sweden has been a realtively homogenous country from an ethnological point of view[2], isolated from migration. Since the Second World War, immigration has brought about significant changes, and just over one million are at least second-generation immigrants. At the beginning of 1985, some 47 per cent of immigrants came from Nordic countries and 32 per cent from other European countries, while 21 per cent came from the rest of the world. Policy towards immigrants has gone through various stages. The assimilation into the dominant Swedish culture was probably the first aim of the Swedish authorities. With the growth of minorities, the authorities switched to offering immigrants and ethnic minorities the opportunity to sustain and develop their own culture within the range of interests that form Sweden as a whole.

The roots of Swedish cultural policy go back to the 17th century when a government office for archives and monuments was set up. Legislation was passed for protecting archaeological remains. Assertion of national identity was the motive. During the 18th century, national key institutions were founded under the royal court. The royal tradition mixed with the civic achievements of the 19th century and with the goals of popular movements, has formed the framework of Sweden’s modern cultural policy. Some of these historical characteristics are reflected in cultural life today, which has rapidly changed over the last 25 years.


Although the objectives and metods of current cultural policy were largely decided during the 1970s, certain intiatives were taken already in the 1930s, but more systematic measures were not made until the 1960s.

Since 1930s, the Swedish welfare model was applied to the arts, and, in the 1950s, even television. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the national culture was studied and institutions were reformed or created.

During the 1960s, cultural policy came under fire: many objections were directed towards the existing cultural policy. Therefore, it resulted in the 1974 statement of policy on culture.

A Parliament Resolution in 1974 defined the goals of the state cultural policy and the division of responsibilities between national government, municipalities, county councils and voluntary organizations. It included provisions for state administration of culture and the underlying principles for state grants as well.

The Resolution summarized eight goals for the national cultural policy. National cultural policy should:

·       help protect freedom of expression and create genuine opportunities for the use of that freedom;

·       give people opportunities to engage in creative activities of their own and to promote contact between people;

·       counteract negative effects of commercialism in the cultural sector;

·       promote a decentralization of activities and decision making in the cultural sector;

·       make more allowance for the experiences and needs of disadvantaged groups;

·       facilitate artistic and cultural renewal;

·       ensure that culture of earlier times is preserved and revitalized;

·       promote the interchange of experience and ideas within cultural sectors across linguistic and national boundaries.

The trust of cultural policy has been towards decentralization, although it has been centrally implemented and there is no regional structure of central government agencies in the cultural sphere. But central government shares a common responsibility for the cultural life with Sweden’s 24 county councils and 288 municipalities.

New discussions started in the late 1980s in the context of the Council of Europe Programme of “Evaluation of National Cultural Policies”, which led to the re-orientation of cultural policy.

In 1996, it was decided to modify the eight established principles (see above) with seven new ones:

·       to safeguard freedom of expression and create opportunities for all to use that freedom;

·       to work to create the opportunity for all to participate in cultural life and to engage in their own creative activities;

·       to promote cultural pluralism, artistic renewal and quality, counteracting the negative effects of commercialism;

·       to make it possible for culture to be a dynamic, independent and challenging force;

·       to preserve and use the cultural heritage;

·       to promote cultural education;

·       to promote international cultural exchange.

These goals have received a high status with state support.


2.1  Public and semi-public bodies

An important feature of the Swedish system is a separation of policy making and implementation. Ministries are concerned with policy making and financial allocations; implementation is the responsibility of separate agencies with boards of their own. The National Council for Cultural Affairs (Statens Kulturråd) is the most important quasi-governmental authority for the implementation of cultural policy guidelines.

The government decisions are taken collectively, with the Minister of Culture acting as Rapporteur. The Prime Minister plays the role of coordinator.

Decisions concerning budgets of state cultural institutions and various allocations to regional and local cultural institutions and other cultural purposes, are made by government and parliament. Regulations on grants are laid down by the government.

Within the Ministry, cultural policy matters are the responsibility of two departments. The Department of Mass Media Policy is in charge of broadcasting, film, publishing and the press; The Department of Cultural Affairs deals with museums, theatres, dance, music, visual arts, public libraries, grants to artists and the preservation of cultural heritage.

At the national level there are three main bodies. The implementation of cultural policy is handled mainly by the National Council for Cultural Affairs and, in their respective fields, by the Central Board of National Antiquities and the National Archives Board.

The emphasis of central government responsibility lies in coordination and longer-term planning via the appropriate ministries and related bodies. Central government also awards grants in support of cultural activities.

Decisions on culture mainly concern central or national institutions (except general budget questions).

Swedish local authorities have an extensive power of self-determination and taxation. There is no state legislation governing local authority involvement in the arts and cultural activities. Interests in that area have grown entirely as a result of local political decisions. At the local level almost all municipalities have commitments to two basic cultural elements: the public library and the cultural activities. The public library is often used as a general cultural resource, organizing exhibitions and other events. Other activities include music schools, theatres, art galleries and museums, and local branches of the adult-education organizations.

The county councils have commitments mainly in three fields: music, theatre and museums. There is a network of regional orchestras, theatres and museums.

Municipal spending in the cultural field declined from over 58 per cent in 1990 to 47 per cent in 1996. As far as it concerns the recent policy debates, it has been decided to subjugate the state film policy under investigation. Besides, new forms for employment at theatres will be tried out as for 1999.

As an example of a good practice, different from other countries in Europe, sub-agencies of the National employment agency specialize in professional work of various artists. Such agencies help even self-employed individuals to get commissions, sell their work, improve their skills, etc.

2.2  Facilities and institutions

Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs (NCCA) was founded in 1974. The work of NCCA covers both the distribution of financial sources and the provision of advice to the Ministry. The Council’s spheres of responsibility match mainly those of the Ministry’s Department for Cultural Affairs. Press, cinema, radio and television fall outside direct responsibility of the Council. However, the Council’s deliberation concerns the whole cultural sector; it pursues research and development projects and awards financial grants for specific activities. Its functions are to make allocations of funds to formally constituted entities, but not to individuals; to keep itself and the government informed of cultural developments; to compile and publish informational material, including statistics. Statens Kulturråd has also responsibility (together with the Swedish Institute) for cultural exchanges with other countries.

Central Board of National Antiquities and the National Historical Museums act as a central authority for the care and maintenance of ancient monuments and the protection of valuable historical settings. At the regional level the responsible authorities are the County councils.

The National Archives of Recorded Sound and Moving Images are entitled by law to receive copies of all films that the Board of Film Censors has approved of for public show, radio and TV programmes that have been transmitted by the Swedish National Radio Company and The Swedish Television Company and videograms and records that have been publicly distributed in at least 50 copies.

The Swedish National Theatre Centre, created in1933, is a national state subsidized organization of about 200 local theatre associations which arrange for performances. The Centre presents performances all over the country.

The Swedish National Concert Institute (NCI) was created in early 1960s as a national agency for arranging and promoting concerts in various parts of the country. The emphasis was originally on national touring but was altered to active collaboration with regional-based activities which required the development of a regional administrative structure within NCI.

Swedish Travelling Exhibitions, set up as a state institution in 1966, arrange exhibitions all over the country and assist with advice and other services.

The Royal Library was founded in the 17th century, and is the national repository, being entitled to receive a copy of every publication printed in Sweden.

Swedish Authors Fund works for writers, play-writers, translators and illustrators; the Swedish Visual Artists’ Fund for painters and sculptors, and the Arts Grants Committee with all other categories of artists.

The Swedish Institute is a state financed foundation under the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Institute mediates contacts with Swedish and foreign cultural workers, awards travel grants and gives general assistance in cultural exchanges. It is also entrusted with assisting and supporting bilateral cultural exchange programmes, since Sweden does not conclude any cultural agreements at the  governmental level.


3.1  Financing of cultural activities

The typical Swedish cultural funding system is the combination of high public expenditure and a very slim bureaucratic structure.

Subsidies are allocated by the government, following a discussion in parliament, or after receiving requirements prepared by the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs.

The Swedish allocation system is divided in five levels:

·       general allocations to institutions;

·       subsidies to the cultural industry;

·       grants to artists;

·       special programmes for unemployed artists;

·       public art programmes.

During the period of 1995-1996, total public sector spending on culture was distributed as follows: 46 per cent was spent by the Central Government, 47 per cent by the Municipalities, and 7 per cent by the County Councils.

Figure 1 shows the Central Government spending on culture in the period of 1995-1996.

Cultural Activity



General Cultural Activity



Support to Artists



Theatre and Dance






Image and Form



Museums and Exhibitions



Cultural Heritage Care









Arts’ Periodicals






Radio and TV



Film and Cinema



Daily Newspapers



Adult Education






Source: Compendium of Basic Facts and Trends on Cultural Policy: 47 European Country Profiles: “0”-Number for a Future Compendium. Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 1998, p. 68

Total municipal spending on culture for 1996 was bsek 6.6: 40 per cent was spent on public libraries, 35 per cent on general culture activities, 16 per cent on music schools, and 9 per cent on grants to adult education schools.

Total County Council’s spending on culture for 1996 was msek 1036. The largest percentage out of this sum went to adult education – 27.1 per cent. Theatre/dance and museums/exhibitions follow with 18.5 per cent/17.7 per cent. 11.6 per cent was spent on music, 8.7 per cent on libraries and litrature, 7.0 per cent on general cultural activity, 2.4 per cent on Federation of County Councils, 2.0 per cent on cultural heritage care and archives, 1.8 per cent on image and form, and cultural workers each, 1.1. per cent on film and audiovisual, and 0.2 per cent on association maintaining premises.

Direct public management of cultural organizations is largely confined to local authorities, museums and local public library services. Most of the performing arts organizations have adopted a private sector format, either like the Royal Opera, which is a private company, owned by the government, or “foundations” (non-profit companies without shares), which are the most frequent organizational forms among regional institutions.

The three national theatres (Royal Opera, Royal Dramatic Theatre, and the National Theatre Centre Svenska Riksteatern) are predominantly promoted by the state with 60 per cent of all theatre funding. The regional theatre centres also receive national funding besides local or regional subsidies.

The national promotion of music is concerned with giving the general public access to local concert perfomances, but it also supports musicians and composers in the performance of their own works.

State funds for museums and archives are mostly directed towards the big national museums and institutions.

Local public libraries are funded by local or regional authorities, and only individual special libraries (the National Library and the Braille Libraries) receive state subsidies.

In the field of literature, grants are paid after a work has been published.

In the visual arts, various art associations are supported via Sveriges Konstföreningasrs Riksförbund.

Although the political authorities in Sweden have a reserved attitude to commercial sponsorship of culture, some arts institutions have chosen to seek extra resources from business sponsorship. The aim of the Arts and Business Association for Cultural Sponsorship (ABACS) is to be a forum for the exchange of the views on sponsorship and a force for encouraging the understanding and the use of sponsorship. The total amount of money coming from sponsors is small.

Although sponsoring is normal in sports, it is a relatively novel phenomenon in Sweden. One of the first examples of sponsoring was support by Volvo to Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

3.2  Legislation

Legislation is found primarily within the field of broadcasting, arhive services and preservation of cultural heritage, but is also expanding to the other fields.

A Public Lending Right for authors by which the state identifies Swedish authors, translators and illustrators for the use of their work in public and school libraries was institutionalized in 1954. In 1982, the principle of public lending right was extended to composers. Over 4,000 authors receive public lending right payments. 200 authors receive guaranteed author’s coins.

Since January 1997, municipalities have been legislated to maintain a public library and to refrain from levying any direct charge for its loans to members of the public. This principle is now legally enforceable.

Basic copyright provisions are similar to those of other European countries. The situation is somewhat different in the field of library loans: remuneration for library loans is granted by the central government according to a special agreement with the authors’ unions. A yearly appropriation is directed to the Swedish Authors’ Fund, which then redistributes it, partly in the form of individual royalties, partly in the form of grant.

Artistic and literary products (texts, music or works of art) suffer from being copied, misapproriated or simply pirated. Piracy is not a big problem for writers in Swedish, since their language area is quite small, but it is for musicians and visual artists. Many organizations exist to address this problem and to administrate rights. They cooperate in a body called Copyswede.

Areas of official and private responsibility for cultural heritage are defined by legislation of the late 1980s. A general policy aim is to increase public awareness of the issues involved.

As far as it concerns censorship issues, they are mostly connected to violence. The Swedish censorship laws are mostly directed at scenes of violence, which are considered a criminal law offence, if not respected.

No special legal incentives aimed at promoting cultural sponsoring exist.


4.1  Cultural heritage

In the period of past 20 years, Swedish museums have grown in all aspects, numerically, in size, and in visitors’ access.

Most museums are concentrated in Stockholm, but most of the 288 municipalities of Sweden also have a small museum or a regional centre. There are also regional museums that are centres of museums activity in their regions. 26 regional museums receive grants from central government funds.

Central government funding for musuems usually goes to the big central museums; therefore, museums are often supported by sponsors, shops, friends’ associations, etc. Organization called Swedish Travelling Exhibitions produces and supplies exhibitions to schools, museums, art associations and so on.

General concern for cultural heritage is directed to raising public awareness for the responsibility men have for the heritage: buildings, their surroundings, land and man-made details such as property boundaries formed by dry-stone walling.

Travelling exhibitions are produced and arranged by the state-run Travelling Exhibitions Service (Riksutställningar).

4.2  Cultural education and training


4.3  Performing arts

There are some 30 institutional (publicly run and funded) theatres in Sweden, which include the Royal Opera and the Royal Drama Theatre. The Swedish National Theatre Centre is a state-funded theatrical institution that produces touring performances for local theatre societies throughout the country. The others are municipal and county theatres.

Ballet companies operate in association with the music theatres in Gothenburg, Malmö, Karlstad as well as in Norrköping/Linköping.

There are about a hundred independent professional theatre and dance groups in Sweden.

Children’s theatre has a long tradition and has attracted a great deal of interest at the international level, too.

The institutional theatres and independent groups stage some 20,000 perfomances annually, before a total audience of roughly 3 million.

When it comes to theatres, the effects of decentralization is evident by the considerable increase in the number of regional theatres.

4.4  Visual and fine arts

Design, handcrafts and individual design are the fields which have greatly benefited from public-private cooperation. Some official support is given to some national and local associations of gold- and silversmiths; woodworkers, textiles, metals, glass and ceramics, and “slöjd” workers (skilled handiwork, often in wood, in traditional patterns and forms).

4.5  Literature and literary production

There is a considerable number of organizations dealing with literature in Sweden. The Swedish Academy awards the annual Nobel Prize for Literature (since 1901). It has also compiled, published and revised a multi-volume dictionary of Swedish language. Författarcentrum is a centre that promotes activities of Swedish authors.

Swedish Institute for Children’s Books also plays an important role since children’s litrature is considered as a significant part of the literature policy.

In every one of 288 municipalities there is a library. County libraries are financed by the county councils, with additional grants from the state for their regional activities. The municipalities provide funds for their own libraries. Overall, some 88 per cent of the finance for the library services derives from the municipalities, with the county councils contributing 8.7 per cent and the state 3.7 per cent of the total (in 1996). Libraries are the main expenditure of the municipalities in the field of cultural activity at 40 per cent of the total.

The significance of public libraries is indicated by the fact that the average loan rate is over 8 books per head and that over 60 per cent of the adult population use libraries annually.

4.6  Music

Sweden has many producing theatres and orchestras. The eleven major symphony and chamber orchestras based in the main towns as well as the numerous independent groups employ over 1,200 professional musicians.

Music education, especially among young people is encouraged. It is a public policy designed over the past 25 years with the intention to create a tradition of music making and appreciation among the Swedes. Programmes and grants are available for music education as well as the production and dissemination of recordings. It is all funded by government as well as the Statens Kulturråd. As a result of this policy, a number of professional musical careers were pursued.

There are several hundred fully or semi-professional music groups playing chamber music, jazz, rock or folk music. They receive only limited public funding, and are thus highly dependent on ticket sales and other sources of income. Independent music groups put on an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 concerts a year.


Sweden has introduced a number of measures to maintain the variety of production and sustain the distribution of the cultural industries. There are subsidies for writers, publishers and booksellers, support system for film production and cinemas and subsidies for recordings.

In contrast, radio and television operate under traditional ideals of public service broadcasting. Commercial TV was introduced in 1991 and private commercial radio in 1993.

5.1  Book publishing

The book clubs broke through in Sweden during the 1970s and now represent about 25 per cent of the total book market-turnover. There are two types of bookshops: general bookshops and service bookshops.

The government introduced the system of book subsidies upon the 1968 investigation of the book market. Literary subsidies are granted for the publication of specific books in accordance with special selection procedures.

Grants are made in support of new literary work, either produced or translated in Swedish, of classics; non-fiction; books and illustrated series for children and young children. Grants are also given to books in immigrants’ languages and those of other minorities. In 1997, roughly 750 titles received support that totalled about msek 30. The book market sales turnover is around sek 3 billion. Subsidies are aimed at supporting the publication of high quality products.

Publication subsidies are awarded to individual book titles and are given to the publishers. Some one-third of Swedish fiction receives subsidies; the figures for children’s books are one in five and for translated fiction one in ten.

About 11,000 book titles are published in Sweden every year, including about 3,300 newly issued general interest works. Around sek 5,400 million worth of books are sold annually, with bookshops accounting for 35-40 per cent, book clubs for just under 30 per cent, and department stores, kiosks, etc. for the remainder.

5.2  Press

The periodical press comprises a wide spectrum of over 10,000 different publications. There are about 170 daily newspapers and 5,000 periodicals in Sweden, which is more numerous per capita than in most other countries. They either receive direct grants or apply for reduced or zero rate of VAT.

The state provides grants for newspapers and cultural periodicals, with the aim of preserving and if possible, increasing media diversity. In 1994/1995, support for newspapers amounted to sek 480 million.

The type of press subsidy, which is relevant to cultural policies, affects only a small subsection, namely cultural periodicals. The subsidy is sek 19 million (1994/1995), but important for each of the more than 200 periodicals receiving a subsidy.

Press Subsidy Board is a national board that makes direct grants to newspapers. Newspapers in braille receive grants from another national board, and arts’ periodicals are entitled to grants from the National Council.

Since the standard VAT rate is 25 per cent, an exemption from it is a substantial benefit for any publisher of a periodical. However, quite a few qualify, in this respect.

5.3  Broadcasting and sound recording industry

Most radio and television programmes are not commercially financed, but to a large extent they are nevertheless channels for a commercial popular culture.

Radio and TV transmissions are subject to the agreements between the government and the public service radio and TV companies, and TV4, an independent company.

The public service companies in the field of radio and television are organized in three different companies: Swedish Television Company, Swedish Radio and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company. The companies are responsible for production of programmes and also for what is broadcast. Each company has its own regional organization. Formally, the owners of the corporation are not the state but the popular movements (60 per cent), commerce and industry (20 per cent) and the press (20 per cent). However, the majority of governing bodies are nominated by the government. The permit for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation is governed by the broadcasting laws.

A third, commercial, terrestrially distributed televison channel (Nordic Television/TV 4) started broadcasting in late 1991.

During the spring of 1993 private commercial radio has been introduced. New legal rules promote independent radio stations with strong local support.

Swedish Radio and TV Authority, established in 1994, is the licencing and registration authority for local and similar radio stations, temporary transmissions and distribution by cable and satellite. It also deals with fees for local radio and commercial TV transmissions within Sweden.

Sweden has 476 television and 844 radio sets per 1000 pop.

In the 1980s, cable television networks began to be established. Today, these networks cover some 2.2 million households (which is 65 per cent of Swedish households). Cable is used primarily to distribute satellite programmes.

Home video recorders came on the market in the early 1980s. By 1995 they had been acquired by more than 70 per cent of households. Some 13 per cent of households possess the double equipment of VCRs.

In the video market there are no subsidies, but the most important decision affecting the video market is that the film agreement involves a levy on the hiring of pre-recorded video cassettes. Income from this levy goes to the Swedish Film Institute.

The latest sector in which the state has intervened is that of recordings. The sums allocated by the state are comparatively small (some sek 6 million) in a market where private expenditure is as much as sek 2.2 billion. Swedes buy just over 25 million records and audio cassettes a year. In addition, some 10 million blank cassettes are sold. Pop, rock and light music account for 80 per cent of sales.

5.4  Cinema and film industry

Film is a favoured form of art in Sweden. State support for Swedish film production started in 1963. The Swedish Film Institute was established to provide production support funded by a ticket levy. This is now supplemented by a video levy, grants from the national Swedish Television Company, the commercial television company TV 4 and a state subsidy. The Institute is responsible for national film policy, and it also produces its own films. It maintains documentation on Swedish films. The principal sources of the Institute’s funds are a 10 per cent levy on cinema tickets; a fee charged on video films rented or sold; annual payments by a commercial TV company and the public service TV companies secured by an agreement between them and the Institute; and certain grants of central government funds.

A six-year film agreement between the government, the film and the video industries, the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and the private TV 4 has been in force since January 1, 1993. The agreement guarantees annually approximately sek 190 million to film production, out of which sek 60 million is state support. In addition, the state provides the Swedish Film Institute with sek 68 million earmarked for film support, i.e. film archives, film publications, and film activities related to youth and children.

The Film Institute mainly works through the distribution of grants to film producers.

There were 30 film production companies in Sweden in 1995.


Sweden was one of the first European countries to embark upon a cultural development policy at the end of the 1970s. Today, most local and regional authorities allocate a considerable share of their resources to cultural development.

The first evidence that the decentralization objective is fulfilled within the cultural policy is the expansion of regional institutions[3]. County libraries, museums, theatres exist in almost every county. Staffing as well has been constantly increasing.

Special measures have been developped for immigrants and minority groups. These include grants to immigrant cultural organizations, literary subsidies, grants to the National Theatre Centre for various theatrical activities in Finnish and grants to public libraries for the purchase of literature in immigrant and minority languages.

Cultural activities are organized by the educational associations in the form of “study circles” (covering 40 different artistic subjects), so called “cultural-groups” (choir, dance, drama groups) and “cultural programmes” (lectures, perfomances, exhibitions). The study circles, programmes and groups are supported by the state and the municipalities. The aestethic study circles involve some 10 per cent of the population (865,000) and the cultural programmes draw a large attendance, too.

Sweden does not have any special central agency for cultural research or for the documentation of such research. However, the National Council for Cultural Affairs is called upon to follow the research being done in this area at different university departments, e.g. sociology and comparative literature. One example of a broad study made by the Council is the report Att vidga deltagandet i kulturlivet (“Enlarging participation in cultural life”) that includes accounts to what proportion the population participates in cultural activities of various kinds, and the way in which cultural habits are changed in the short term as well as in the long term. A basis for research has been the Cultural Barometer, a project stemming from the Council and the Department of Audience and Programme Research of Swedish Radio (SR/PUB) (closed down in 1993). The publications of the Central Bureau of Statistics and other government studies have also been used. The main purpose of this as well as other studies made by the Council is to be a basis for improved cultural political efforts, in this case to stimulate institutions and organizations to increase the public.

During the first half of the 1980s, a certain stabilization of cultural habits happened, but after 1985 some visiting habits have been more wide-spread in the population. The total time for mass media consumption has increased from 5 hours a day in 1970 to 6 ¼ hours in 1987. From that year it has decreased to just above 5 ½ hours a day in 1991. Behind these general statements, many changing patterns of development in cultural areas took place, such as:

·       The proportion of the population visiting music performances and concerts has significantly increased between 1985 and 1991.

·       The proportion of the population who has seen a theatre performance has also increased since 1985. Especially the attendances to amateur theatre performances have sharply increased. The number of attendances at state or state-subsidized theatres fell considerably between 1977 and 1986, but has increased again.

·       Swedish museums show fairly stable attendance figures during the 1980s with the exception of regional and county museums, which show raising figures. The proportion of the population occasionally attending museums has risen significantly since 1987.
The number of those frequently attending arts exhibitons has been constant also in the long term.

·       The total daily reading has decreased dramatically since 1987, although daily book reading has in the long-term increased despite competition from audio-visual media, but has fallen slightly in recent years. The proportion of the population that seldom or never read books has gone in the opposite direction: 30 per cent of the population over 15 years has not read a book previous year. Paralell with an increase in the number of non readers, loans from libraries have fallen since 1983. The number of regular and occasional users have both largely remained stable since 1983.

·       The proportion of the population participating in amateur cultural activities – playing musical instruments, singing, drawing, painting, filming – has been constant during the 1980s, but those who already were active have been further activated. Amateur writing has increased slightly.

·       The number of participants in adult education programmes and study circles has largely increased through 1980s, but the proportion of the population has been constant.

·       Since the mid 1960s, those attending cinemas have more than halved. Since 1985 the proportion has increased a little.

The changes in the participation in activities and in the use of mass media are presented in Figures 2 and 3.

Figure 2 Participants in Cultural Activities 1983-1985 and 1989-1991. Percentage of the population (9-79 years) who have particiated in some way duing an average period of four weeks




Visited library



Filmed/taken photographs



Participated in a meeting of an association



Danced in a dance hall or an dance-floor



Attended a cinema



Participated in a musical event



Written poem/diary



Drawn/painted (artistic activity)



Participated in a study circle/course



Played musical insturment



Seen exhibition



Visited museum



Attended theatre/music theatre



Written story/article/letter to the press



Sung in a choir/group



* 1985-87

Source: Kulturbarometern, perioden juni 1989 – juni 1991, SR-PUB, Statens kulturråd, 1991

Figure 3 Mass media usage: age group 9-79, daily average (minutes)




























































































Total (a)







Source: Myerscough, John. National Cultural Policy in Sweden – Report of a European Group of Experts. Stockholm, Council of Europe, CDCC, 1990, p. 136. And Mediebarometern 1991, SR/PUB 1992.

There remain large differences in cultural patterns between the various socio-economic groups. Of all socio-economic factors, the length of education has the greatest significance to cultural habits. Considerable equalization has taken place in cultural habits between city inhabitants and those living in the countryside. This is partly an effect of the expansion of cultural insitutions all over the country, but also a result of the general increase of the quantity of artistic events outside the big cities.


Sweden does not apply the policy of concluding cultural agreements on the governmental level. The basic Swedish principle in this field is that every institution and organization takes the responsibility for its international contacts.

The Swedish Institute is in charge of preparing working programmes for bilateral cultural exchange with the Eastern European region and handles cultural exchange with other countries. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible for cultural and press attachés.

The Nordic Council of Ministers, a body responsible for cooperation between the Nordic governments, also cooperates in the field of culture education and research.

Sweden is a member of the Council of Europe and UNESCO.


8.1  Ministeries, authorities and academies

Ministry of Culture
S-103 33 Stockholm
Tel.: 763 10 00
Fax: 723 11 92

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Box 16121
S-103 23 Stockholm
Tel.: 786 60 00
Fax: 723 11 76

The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs
(Statens kulturråd)
Box 7843
S-103 98 Stockholm
Tel.: 679 72 60
Fax: 611 13 49

Central Board of National Antiquities
(Riksantikvarieämbetet, RAÄ)
Box 5405
S-114 84 Stockholm
Tel.: 783 90 00
Fax: 660 72 84

Arts Grants Committee
Birger Jarls torg 5
S-111 28 Stockholm
Tel.: 14 14 90

The Swedish Authors’ Fund
(Sveriges Förtattarfond)
Schönfeldts gränd 1-3
S-111 27 Stockholm
Tel.: 791 47 80
Fax: 20 61 78

The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO
c/o Ministry of Education and Science
S-103 33 Stockholm
Tel.: 763 19 51
Fax: 723 11 92

The Swedish Academy
(Svenska Akademien)
Källargränd 4
S-111 29 Stockholm
Tel.: 10 65 24
Fax: 24 42 25

The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts
(Akademien för de fria konsterna)
Bosx 16317
S-103 26 Stockholm
Tel.: 614 00 00
Fax: 21 13 39

The Royal Swedish Academy of Music
(Kungl. Musikaliska adademien)
Blasieholmstorg 8
S-111 48 Stockholm
Tel.: 611 57 70
Fax: 611 87 18

The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities
(Kungl. Vitterhets HIstorie och Antikvitetsakademien)
Villagatan 3
S-114 32 Stockholm
Tel.: 20 09 36
Fax: 20 09 81

8.2  Central cultural institutions

The Swedish National Theatre Centre
(Svenska Riksteatern)
S-145 83 Norsborg

The Swedish National Concert Institute
(Svenska Rikskonserter)
Box 1225
S-111 82 Stockholm
Tel.: 791 46 00
Fax: 21 34 68

Swedish Travelling Exhibitions
Box 4715
S-116 92 Stockholm
Tel.: 644 97 20
Fax: 702 07 39

The Swedish Institute
(Svenska Institutet)
Box 7434
S-103 91 Stockholm
Tel.: 789 20 00
Fax: 20 72 48

The Swedish Film Institute
(Svenska Filminstitutet)
Box 27126
S-102 52 Stockholm
Tel.: 665 11 00
Fax: 661 18 20

The Royal Library
(Kungl. Biblioteket)
Box 5039
S-102 41 Stockholm
Tel.: 679 50 40
Fax: 611 69 56

The National Archives of Recorded Sound and Moving Images
(Arkivet för ljud och bild, ALB)
Box 7371
S-103 91 Stockholm
Tel.: 14 39 60
Fax: 662 27 43

The Swedish Television Company
(Sveriges Television AB)
S-105 10 Stockholm

The Swedish National Radio Company
(Sveriges Radio AB)
S-105 10 Stockholm
Tel.: 784 00 00
Fax: 784 15 00

The Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company
(Sveriges Utbildningsradio AB)
S-115 80 Stockholm

8.3  Associations

The National Federation of Art Associations
(Sveriges Konstföreningars Riksförbund, SKR)
Box 30568
S-200 62 Stockholm

Society of Contemporary Music and Intermedia Art
Box 4514
S-102 65 Stockholm
Tel.: 84 54 43


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* This monograph is based on a selection of data from Cultural Policies Data Bank or from the documents collected by the Documentation Centre for Cultural Development and Cooperation, Culturelink. It has been revised by Daniela Angelina Jelincic, Culturelink, IMO in 1999.

[1] The land area of Sweden is almost twice as large as the UK, but the population is just a bit over that of Greater London.

[2] Alongside the Swedish-speaking majority there was an original Lapp (Sami) culture with its own language. There are about 15,000 Sami in Sweden. In the very northern part of Sweden, in the Torne district, lives a minority speaking a Finnish language, the so called “Torne Finnish”.

[3] One of the most impressive aspects of Swedish cultural life has been the success of national policy to build up the strength of artistic institutions outside Stockholm.