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SALAR position paper on

SALAR position paper on

Culture in the Sustainable Society

Culture in the Sustainable Society

Culture plays a very important role – economically, socially and environmentally – which is important to bring to the fore in both regional and local development programmes. Municipalities and county councils have considerable freedom to design a cultural policy based on their own conditions and needs, a freedom which it is important to safeguard. A rich cultural environment in a broad sense can be an important means of competition for contented inhabitants of the municipality who want to stay in their municipality, which in turn can also attract entrepreneurs. Tourists are also an important group in this context. Municipalities and county councils take great responsibility for cultural issues. Together, they pay for more than half of publicly funded culture. With this Position Paper, adopted by the board of 21 November 2008, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) wishes to highlight local and regional cultural policy and show how it can be developed The Position Paper provides guidelines for SKL’s internal work but also serves as support for our members and as a basis for contacts and deliberations with the Government Offices and government agencies. The report ca be ordered on www.skl.se/publikationer and downloaded as a PDF file. Order number: 5182

SE-118 82 Stockholm, Visiting address Hornsgatan 20 Telephone +46 8 452 70 00, Fax +46 8 452 70 50 www.skl.se


Foreword Culture is an important dimension of a long-term, sustainable society – socially, economically and environmentally. Socially because culture contributes to creating meeting places, cohesion and individual growth. Economically because culture and creative industries provide employment and an increasing share of GDP. Environmentally, finally because culture and cultural environments contribute to creating an attractive living environment. Culture is an unregulated area, where municipalities and counties/regions are able to present a profile and shape policy on the basis of their own prerequisites and needs. Municipalities and counties/regions voluntarily assume great responsibility for the cultural infrastructure of the municipality or region respectively and pay for more than 50 per cent of publicly financed culture.

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

This Position Paper presents the view of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions on cultural policy. The Position Paper was adopted by the board of the association on 21 November 2008 and will serve as the basis for contacts with the government and agencies in the cultural sector. It can also serve as an aid for members in their work. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, November 2008

Anders Knape President The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions




SALAR, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions Visiting address: Hornsgatan 20, Stockholm, Sweden Postal address: SE-118 82 Stockholm Telephone: +46 8 452 70 00, Fax: +46 8 452 70 50 info@skl.se, www.skl.se © Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions 2009 Contact persons at SALAR: Kerstin Lundberg and Calle Nathanson Order number: 5182 Photographs: Thomas Carlgren (pages 4,16,18), Jimmy Söderling (pages 10,14), Valeria Montti Colque (page 12), Ola Flodins (page 8), Lars Lindqvist/SCANPIX (page 6) Graphic form and production: SKL FS Grafisk Produktion Print: 08 Tryck AB



SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society


Summary Culture is very important for a long-term sustainable society. Culture can provide the starting point for the individual’s right to improvement, insight, dialogue and the ability to exert influence. An active cultural life, where citizens can meet, is therefore a foundation for deeply-rooted democratic development. Professional art not only provides artistic experiences but may also serve as a vehicle for social criticism. It is therefore important to safeguard artistic freedom and the intrinsic value of culture. Being able to share artistic experiences and having the opportunity for artistic expression are fundamental human needs. The importance of culture, the cultural environment and the creative industries for local and regional development is increasing, since they generate growth and contribute to creating a good and attractive environment to live in. In this light, cultural policy is very important for development and growth in three dimensions – socially, economically and environmentally. This applies both to culture as an activity (the cultural sector) and cultural aspects or perspectives within other areas of society. Even though cultural policy is not an activity of weight in financial terms for municipalities and county councils, it extends over a broad field and is an area of policy that affects people’s everyday situation as well as their leisure. Cultural policy stimulates commitment and discussion. Culture is often regarded as separate from politics. Nothing could be more wrong. Culture is very much a political sphere. SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

Municipalities and county councils/regions bear a great responsibility for culture and provide funding for over 50 per cent of publicly financed culture. Locally and regionally, there is great knowledge about both resources and needs in the sphere of culture. Municipalities and county councils/ regions have shown the way in many areas when it comes to developing cultural policy, at the same time as they are very dependent on the prerequisites created by central government. SALAR therefore considers that • culture is very important for a sustainable development of society – socially, economically and environmentally; • culture is an important factor for success to highlight in regional development programmes and there must be a clear link between these and municipal strategies and programmes; • the cultural dimension of community planning needs to be reinforced and cross-sectoral work developed; • it is important to safeguard the freedom of the municipalities and the county councils/regions, within the framework of national cultural policy objectives, to conduct an independent cultural policy based on local and regional prerequisites and needs; • libraries, archives and museums play an important role as sources of knowledge for lifelong learning and as socio-cultural meeting places;







• the interaction between civil society and the public sector should be developed, inter alia, with the aid of qualitative support, which should be based on dialogue and agreement between the parties to an increasing extent. Furthermore, SALAR considers that central government – as well as its responsibility for state cultural policy – has the important task of creating good conditions for municipalities and county councils/regions by • producing national cultural policy objectives, in a dialogue with municipalities and county councils/regions, which highlight the importance of culture for a sustainable society; • letting regional development policy (RDP) with the underlying cultural programmes (cultural policy strategies) develop into a functioning basis for dialogue, negotiation and agreements relating to government cultural assistance to the regions; • providing good conditions for the creative industries by developing research and statistics in the field and by supporting the development work of the municipalities and regions; • taking increased responsibility for development issues within the cultural sphere, in particular for the development of children’s and young people’s culture in general and aesthetic learning processes in particular;

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

• developing and strengthening multidisciplinary cultural policy research with multidisciplinary centres to create increased knowledge about the importance of culture within other areas of society; • bringing about increased collaboration on research and education in the sphere of culture as well as more meeting places for researchers and practitioners; • making the municipal and regional perspective more visible in EU-related work; there should for example be local and regional representation in the national work on the Commission’s Agenda for Culture.




The importance of culture for local and regional growth Culture cuts through three sectors of society; the public, the private and the civil. Culture is both an industry and part of the business sector. The cultural sector and the creative industries provide employment to a lot of people as well as having a higher rate of growth than the rest of the economy. Culture and the cultural environment are also location-specific to a greater extent than many other activities and are therefore important for local and regional identity. With the transition to the information or knowledge-based society, the importance of creativity and culture increases as “raw material” for the creative industries. Culture and creativity provide an important input for other activities. Among other things, this is about creating experiences and also supplementary services in the more traditional industries. In contemporary society, there is therefore increased belief in the importance of culture and the cultural environment for local and regional development. In the regional development programmes (RDPs), cultural issues are linked to various concepts such as attractiveness, a good life environment, creativity, public health, democracy and diversity, although they are generally described in vague terms and lack a clear link to local government strategies and programmes. The challenge is to create a real interaction between the municipalities and the region, as well as with civil society, the business sector and the academic world.

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

The development of the Internet and audiovisual media (film, TV, computer games) has led to a revolution in the production and consumption of culture. Never before has so much culture been consumed as today. The computer game industry is the part that is expanding most quickly. Young people are an important resource here, whose knowledge can be better made use of in the development programmes and strategies of the regions. The link between culture, creativity and the business sector is strengthening. This has been shown by surveys made in recent years, although knowledge is still lacking. Research, surveys, and statistics are deficient. Central government must take the responsibility of improving this. SALAR therefore considers that • culture is an important factor for success to highlight in regional development programmes and there must be a clear link between these and municipal strategies and programmes; • central government must provide good conditions for the creative industries by developing research and statistics as well as by supporting the development work of the municipalities and regions.




The importance of culture for a socially sustainable society Local cultural activities and a variety of community organisations serve as the foundation for social sustainability by creating confidence and trust between people. Culture is important for dynamic discussions in the community, which are fundamental for long-term sustainable democracy. It is therefore an important task for the municipalities to promote and support local cultural life and to build a cultural infrastructure with meeting places for different players. The commitment that exists within civil society should be given attention and be supported. Stronger interaction between public and civil society means a democratisation of cultural life through responsibility for a viable cultural life being shared by many. Cultural and aesthetic expressions are very important for strengthening children’s personal development. Words, movement, shapes and music are tools for the child in its linguistic and psychosocial development. Interest in aesthetic learning processes is increasing and developing models for this is a national task. The creative needs of young people should also be supported through national measures to develop methods and skills. Participant cultures mean increased interactivity; the interface between spectator and creator is erased, leading to new challenges for cultural policy. It is also a great challenge for municipalities and county councils/regions to make use of the diversity that exists in cultural life as regards sex, age, ethnicity and performance as well as creating conditions which enable every voice to be heard.

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

Knowledge and information are becoming ever more important in contemporary society. The concept of lifelong learning contains an ongoing individual process of education. Libraries have a key role here and they are developing more and more into being places where people look for information. Other important sources of knowledge are our museums and archives. A challenge for these institutions is to develop the function as socio-cultural meeting places. Popular education – study associations and folk high schools – are almost unique for Sweden and represent a more informal learning alongside the formal educational system. SALAR therefore considers that • the interaction between civil society and the public sector should be developed, inter alia, with the aid of qualitative support which is based to an increasing extent on dialogue and agreements between the parties; • central government should take clearer responsibility for the development of children’s and young people’s culture in general and aesthetic learning processes in particular; • libraries, archives and museums play an important role as a source of knowledge for lifelong learning as well as socio-cultural meeting places.




The importance of culture for an attractive and sustainable living environment Local and regional identity is created by a mixture of cultural heritage and the contemporary. It is therefore important to find development potential which permits change without threatening the character of a location or region. Reuse of places and buildings saves resources, accumulates knowledge and preserves cultural values as well as contributing to a sustainable society. It is generally accepted that there is a link between culture and health, even though there is not so much scientific backing. However, there is research that shows that the environment is important for the well-being of people. This applies, above all, to the “green” environment while research on the importance of the cultural environment is not as developed but needs to be reinforced. The Planning and Building Act provides the municipalities with great possibilities for protecting valuable buildings. In practice, the application of the law is problematic with difficult balances to be struck between different interests, complicated rules for compensation and uncertainty about what happens in the event of reconsiderations and appeals. In an increasingly globalised world with a flow of goods and services and increased competition, we see how the specific place (genius loci) and place marketing become more important. The cultural offering and the cultural environment have both become increasingly important for attracting individuals and companies.

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

The common (outdoor) environment with streets, squares, parks and bus stops, is important for life in cities, built-up areas and neighbourhoods. The municipalities and the county councils/ regions respectively bear great responsibility for it being functional, secure and aesthetically attractive. It should be accessible to everyone and offer good opportunities for meetings. When planning and managing the common environment, it is important that the cultural dimension – in terms of aesthetics and cultural history as well as socioculturally – is brought to the fore and evaluated alongside the technical and economic, which requires cross-sector collaboration. “Cultural planning” is an example of a successful method for incorporating “soft” issues in community planning and for finding the distinctive and unique about a particular location. It is starting to be used in Swedish municipalities and counties/regions and is a method which it is important to develop and adapt to Swedish conditions. SALAR therefore considers that • increased knowledge is needed on the importance of culture to create a living environment which is both attractive, competitive and sustainable in the long term; • the cultural dimension in community planning needs to be strengthened and cross-sector work developed.

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Culture Policy internationally and in the EU Globalisation has had a sweeping effect on cultural policy. Lively cross-border cultural exchanges exist at every level of society. These take place in the form of tours, network building, exchange of experiences and town twinning as well as in different projects and partnerships. A large part of this exchange takes place through media – both more traditional such as films and TV as well as new such as the Internet.

SALAR therefore considers that • the municipal and regional perspective of EU work must become more visible: there should be local and regional representation in the national work with the Commission’s Agenda for Culture.

The EU has adopted a European Agenda for Culture, which emphasises the role of culture in development work. For municipalities and county councils/regions, entry into the EU has led to increased exchanges and collaboration with cities and regions in many other countries, in particular in the Barents region, the Baltic Sea region and the Öresund region.

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

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Higher education and research In recent times, the importance of culture for achieving special objectives has been highlighted. However, more knowledge is required about the effects of cultural initiatives in these areas. More knowledge is also required about young people and culture. There is experience and expertise among municipalities and county councils as well as great practical knowledge about cultural issues, a knowledge which is an important part of and an important complement to more theoretically focused research. At the same time, better prerequisites are needed to implement and spread current research. The need of arenas for dialogue between municipalities and county councils/regions and the academic world is thus great.

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

SALAR therefore considers that • increased collaboration is required on research and education in the cultural sphere as well as more meeting places for researchers and practitioners; • central government should develop and strengthen a cross-sector cultural policy research and multidisciplinary centres to create increased knowledge about the importance of culture in different areas of society.

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A national cultural policy and allocation of responsibility between the central government, regional and municipal level National cultural policy must be created by municipalities, county councils and central government together. In order to achieve a national cultural policy, the parties should work together to develop common national cultural policy goals. A developed dialogue is required for this, a dialogue which is at present deficient.

It is important that the county councils/regions have freedom of action in cultural initiatives and that these are well rooted in the municipalities. The regions should meet the need of the municipalities for method and competence development in the cultural sphere.

By tradition, there is a division of roles between the different parties.

and the spread of knowledge in the sphere of culture, develop methods for follow-up and indicators and take responsibility for collection of national statistics. The state should also support development work in the different spheres of culture such as the local library and music and cultural schools. Together with the municipalities and the county councils, the state should be able to review who is responsible for regional and municipal institutions, whose activity is of national interest. National tasks should also continue to be given to certain institutions of special interest.

The municipalities are responsible for local cultural life. The basis is the investments in the local libraries as well as music and cultural schools. The municipalities are also responsible for cultural environment, municipal cultural institutions, premises for cultural activities and support independent cultural activity and popular education. Apace with culture being increasingly regarded as an important factor for local development, cooperation with both civil society and the business sector must be expanded. The previous task of the municipality of providing culture is increasingly changing to the role of coordinator.

The county councils/regions are the responsible authorities for the regional institutions – a responsibility which in certain counties is shared with the host municipality and/or NGOs. In the current regionalisation process, the county councils/regions assume increased responsibility for development issues and are driving with regard to viewing culture as an important development factor.

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

Central government should guarantee research

Central government cultural policy should provide the basic conditions for a rich cultural life throughout the country. The state must therefore guarantee the cultural infrastructure by also continuing to decentralise funds to the regional level. Their use should not be regulated in detail but the state should only ensure that they are used for cultural purposes, and that these initiatives take place in accordance with the wishes of the municipalities. A challenge for central government is to act as a united and active party. This applies both to

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government agencies in the cultural sector as well as in other sectors, for example, education, the business sector, growth and rural development. The regional development programme, RDP, is an important tool for local and regional development. RDP with its underlying cultural programmes should therefore have good prerequisites to serve as a basis for the state’s support to culture in the regions. This material contains a description of the county’s/region’s cultural resources, objectives for cultural policy, proposed measures to achieve the proposed objectives as well as methods for follow-up and evaluation. With a structured regional cultural programme of this kind, where all affected parties – region, municipalities, civil society and the business sector – participate and where there is a clear link to RDP, a basis is created which can be used over a period of three to five years for common cultural initiatives. The strategy documents of the municipalities, such as overview plans, are important instruments in this context and should serve as an important basis for the RDP process.

SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society

SALAR therefore considers that • central government after a dialogue with the municipalities and the county councils/regions should adopt national cultural policy objectives, which highlight the importance of culture for a sustainable society; • The RDP with the underlying cultural programme (culture policy strategies) should be developed into a functioning basis for dialogue, negotiations and agreements with central government on central government cultural support to the regions; the programme should be produced in close collaboration with the municipalities.

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About The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions represents the governmental, professional and employer-related interests of Sweden’s 290 municipalities, 18 county councils and two regions (Västra Götaland and Skåne). The Association strives to promote and strengthen local self-government and the development of regional and local democracy. The operations of the Association are financed by the fees paid annually by members according to their tax base.

We raise issues, act decisively and enlighten public opinion. Our mission is to provide municipalities, county councils and regions with better conditions for local and regional self-government. Our vision is to develop the welfare system and its services. It’s a matter of democracy.

SALAR is an employer’s organisation for municipalities, county councils and regions. We look after the interests of our members and offer them support and services.

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SALAR position paper on – Culture in the Sustainable Society


SALAR position paper on

SALAR position paper on

Culture in the Sustainable Society

Culture in the Sustainable Society

Culture plays a very important role – economically, socially and environmentally – which is important to bring to the fore in both regional and local development programmes. Municipalities and county councils have considerable freedom to design a cultural policy based on their own conditions and needs, a freedom which it is important to safeguard. A rich cultural environment in a broad sense can be an important means of competition for contented inhabitants of the municipality who want to stay in their municipality, which in turn can also attract entrepreneurs. Tourists are also an important group in this context. Municipalities and county councils take great responsibility for cultural issues. Together, they pay for more than half of publicly funded culture. With this Position Paper, adopted by the board of 21 November 2008, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) wishes to highlight local and regional cultural policy and show how it can be developed The Position Paper provides guidelines for SKL’s internal work but also serves as support for our members and as a basis for contacts and deliberations with the Government Offices and government agencies. The report ca be ordered on www.skl.se/publikationer and downloaded as a PDF file. Order number: 5182

SE-118 82 Stockholm, Visiting address Hornsgatan 20 Telephone +46 8 452 70 00, Fax +46 8 452 70 50 www.skl.se


5182