The funding comes as a result of an agreement between the government and left parties and reinforces the government’s commitment to culture as a priority in the region. It is focused not only on activities and programs, but also on policy improvements.
Minister for Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke explains. "This is the largest increase ever in the budget for culture that any Minister for Culture has presented. The increase in the culture policy share of the central government budget is a historic victory for culture, which shows that this Government is committed to giving priority to the role of culture in our society".
Of the SEK 275 million, freedom of the arts will receive SEK 115 million in funding, with investments also being made into improving and strengthening policies on democracy and anti-discrimination.
The most significant portion of the budget has been allocated to improving library services. The number of libraries across the country has dropped and user numbers have also fallen, provoking concern as to the potential long term impact on literature and community values.
SEK 275 million will be invested in libraries and for the next 3 years, commencing in 2018, a further SEK 250 million allocated each year. The funding is aimed at increasing the number of libraries, as well as the community’s access to a wider range of library activities.
A further SEK 25 million will also be allocated each year to the cultural cooperation model, to encourage libraries to offer more activities that promote reading and literature. Key activities include borrowing and reading books of course, but also providing access to newspapers, internet, language cafes, lectures, exhibitions and activities that promote reading such as book clubs.
The funding will be allocated by the Swedish Arts Council who will be responsible for implementing the new budget initiatives.
"Culture includes not only culture and arts, but also the way of life and system of values. In this sense culture becomes the major power for intellectual renewal and human perfection." (European Council Report on European Cultural Policy)