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Alice Bah Kuhnke is no longer a government minister, Minister for Culture and Democracy
Culture placed on the map with the cultural cooperation model
On Friday 17 April, some 40 county council and regional politicians gathered for a dialogue meeting with Minister for Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke and State Secretary Per Olsson about the cultural cooperation model.
The cultural cooperation model is an important reform that the Government is supporting, and an initial step in this work is reinforcing the model with SEK 15 million. This reverses the cut decided by the Riksdag in the central government budget for 2015. Ms Bah Kuhnke was able to communicate this important restoration of the appropriation during the meeting, which focused on national and regional cultural policy on the basis of the cultural cooperation model. “Art that is not free is meaningless and this is the whole point of the cultural cooperation model. It is important that decisions are taken close to the people living in every part of Sweden.” These were the words of Ms Bah Kuhnke as she opened the meeting, and she stressed the fact that she wanted to listen to the regions’ experiences, thoughts and ideas about the future of the model.
Culture has become more important through the cultural cooperation model
The day could be summed up with the words ‘no detailed control but preferably long-term political signals’. And also with the fact that culture has a value in itself but that it is of benefit in other contexts such as health care, schools, tourism, etc. At the same time, it is dependent on other sectors, such as public transport, to reach an audience. One of the positive aspects of the model that was highlighted is that it promotes a clear shared responsibility for culture on the basis of regional needs. It has also contributed to greater cross-sectoral cooperation, e.g. with schools, and neglected areas, such as dance, have been focused on. However, it is important to be aware that the model is resource-intensive and an administrative burden, and to ensure that the dialogue with central government must continue to develop.
A few voices from the meeting:
Culture should not just be something on the side
Maria-Louise Rönnmark, Municipal Commissioner in Umeå and Chair of the Culture and Recreation Committee of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, stressed the importance of not setting too strict parameters:
There is a balance to be struck between creating culture for its own sake and it giving energy to society in other areas. Municipalities and regions that invest in culture get better research, better health, more creativity and better growth, both economic and social.
The meeting was about how we should continue to work on the model and about continuing to develop the dialogue and aim for an infrastructure that provides the conditions for long-term work. Long-term plans must also apply to culture.
The cultural cooperation model requires trust between the parties, and dialogue, communication and long-term thinking are key aspects. The model also needs to be free from micro-management. Regarding the development of the appropriation that was discussed, we have a joint responsibility to continue to raise the issue.
The dialogue meeting provided us with energy and confidence in the future, and it shows that we want to do something together. This is what I will take with me in my role as Committee Chair at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.
Some way to go on the model
Lars Nordström is Chair of the Regional Executive Committee and Chair of the Västra Gotland Culture Committee. He was one of the first to be involved in designing the cultural cooperation model:
The cultural cooperation model has begun to take shape but a great deal remains to be done. There are still uncertainties as to the division of roles between the regions, the Swedish Arts Council and the Ministry. Who decides what and who will require a detailed account? The model will preserve the cultural sector around the country if central government does not provide additional funding corresponding to the increase in costs. We would also like to see long-term thinking in the approval of grants as many cultural activities have to be planned five years in advance. The atmosphere at the meeting was positive, but we had hoped for more scope for a general discussion, for example about cooperation with central government.
The cultural cooperation model has been in place since 2011 and involves the allocation of approximately SEK 1.3 billion to support cultural activities throughout Sweden. All counties apart from Stockholm are involved in the model.