Speech by Minister for Culture Amanda Lind at UNESCO’s online Meeting with Ministers of Culture
Stockholm, Sweden 2020-04-22.
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My name is Amanda Lind and I am Minister for Culture and Democracy in Sweden.
First of all, I would like to thank UNESCO for this follow-up on the Forum of Ministers of Culture in November last year.
In these very challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic, we all recognise the importance of art and culture when crisis strikes.
We also acknowledge the vulnerability of the cultural sphere as a whole and, consequently, the threats posed to the status of artists, especially for women.
It is more important than ever to join efforts to strengthen the protection and promotion of open and democratic societies, where artists and creators can work under free, fair and safe conditions, and where artistic freedom is protected and promoted.
In response to the current crisis, the Swedish Government has allocated 50 million Euros to both small and large non-governmental cultural actors. Public cultural institutions will be supported by an early distribution of the yearly grants.
In Sweden, as in many other countries, the majority of cultural actors are self-employed. They will be able to benefit from the general crisis measures for small enterprises which include loan guarantees, temporary reduction of social security contributions and rental reductions.
As the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, I am worried by the implications on human rights and democratic freedoms of some of the measures taken during the crisis. Many states are now enforcing measures that, to different extents, limit human rights.
Regrettably, measures could have consequences for the right to freedom of expression, for media freedom and for the democracy.
We must ensure that all emergency measures are in accordance with international human rights law. Any restrictions to the enjoyment of human rights must be limited to what is prescribed by law, necessary, non-discriminatory and proportionate to the evaluated risk.
The values of, and the access to, cultural heritage – the tangible as well as the intangible – must not be lost, but rather continue to be a unifying force for society. This applies during the crisis, as well as when businesses, museums and institutions have reopened, and non-governmental organisations are able to meet again.
The crisis gives us new opportunities to further develop and discover digital arenas of the cultural heritage all over the world.
Overall, the steps taken so far to support the cultural and creative sectors are important, but we also need to explore new measures. When the acute crisis has passed, we must ensure that the cultural and creative sectors come alive again. We know that these sectors are crucial for our societies, for social cohesion, innovation and creativity. Therefore, we have to join forces to maintain the role of culture now and in the future to come.