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When the Swedish Council for Cultural and Creative Industries formed in 2010 we were many that hoped this would mean a thorough and serious review of Sweden’s position and standing-points in the cultural and creative industries.
So far the regions had been the main motors in the discussion of CCI, this gave an opportunity for the state, the Department of Enterprise and Department of Culture, to form strategies and activities for CCI grasping everything from the single artist running her own one-woman-business as a platform for her artistic work to the larger businesses within areas such as music, film, and design.
Being one of the members of the Council, I wanted to see a more content-based discussion on CCI and in this include the artists and their specific situation.
At Nätverkstan we have written two reports on the this topic: Den ofrivillige företagaren (The reluctant entrepreneur, 2002) and Örnarna och myrstacken. Vad vet vi om kulturnäringarna? (Eagles and the ant-hill. What do we know of the cultural industries?, 2010), the last report on commission from Region Västra Götaland. Both these two had the ambition to put a perspective on CCI which include the whole complexity of the cultural field and which takes its standing point in the artistic production.
On February 5 the Council presented the report and a film clip from two years work. Disappointments were many, and perhaps most frankly declared by the Association of Swedish Illustrators and Graphic Designers where they simply state in an article ”No thanks to counsels from the Council!”.
Although the role of the Council was vague and was never meant to be other than a council, a discussion partner to the political structure, expectations were much higher than what came out.
Now the state shows minor interest for these questions and the main drivers of these industries in Sweden are still the regions. This means – as it looks at the moment – that the regions will act very differently around the CCI and depending on where you live in the country it can be a large public authority interest and thereby also possibilities for artists and cultural entrepreneurs, or it can be quite quiet. It will be continuously difficult to compare and evaluate incentives and policy work within CCI between the regions.
The gap that this creates leaves room for anyone to define CCI as they please and without a state policy framework the potential these industries hold will be lost. Sweden will continue to lagg behind in the European discussion in this area.
Read also Nätverkstan’s report written on commission of the Region Västra Götaland on CCI ”Örnarna och myrstacken”,(Swedish) here: ornarna_110925.
Nätverkstan is publishing translated (into Swedish) essays from two cultural economists shortly: A book with two essays by Italian Cultural Economist Pier Luigi Sacco together with an interview of his story, and a book with two essays by Cultural Researcher Giep Hagoort from Netherlands and an interview. Published in end of February.
According to the Martin Prosperity Institute and the index The Global Creativity Ranking Index Sweden ranks number one of countries in the world when it comes to creativity. The index is built on economist Richard Florida’s three T’s Talent, Technology, and Tolerance – he is in fact Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute – and his results show that Sweden is ranking top on all the three T’s. Finland, being strong on technology and talent, but less on tolerance according to this thinking, scores number three.
There is a lot to be said about Florida’s three T’s. What factual figures is it built on? Tolerence is for example interesting. How can a country be counted as tolerant when facts show that people with a foreign-sounding name– that means all foreigners except Europeans and Americans –are being continuously discriminated on the job market? Something that is a fact in Sweden today.
The Swedish Council for Cultural and Creative Industries has the role of acting as a consultancy towards Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Entreprise and putting the light on questions in the cross-line between culture and business.
On the meeting on Monday (February 13) together with the two ministers, Minister of Enterprise, Annie Lööf, stressed broadening the notion of innovation in the innovation strategy now being discussed on national level. Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, put forward the artistic competence as a resource in other areas in society such as business side.
But it’s easy to miss the complexity in the overall discussion on cultural and creative industries. Tourism industry is an area often discussed in this context. It’s easy to talk about the importance of tourism, visitors from abroad spending their money on food, guest houses, museums and other activities. In 2010 a national strategy was presented for the ”visiting industry” in Sweden 2020 called Nationell Strategi för Svensk Besöksnäring.
A quick look through the document shows the lack of any analysis on the role of art and culture. So you wonder, what is it that people are visiting? Tourism and places to visit is strongly connected to production of high quality art and culture. If you plan investments in tourism industry, you also have to speak of investments in artistic and cultural research.
if you speak of investing in technology you also have to build strategies of how our society will become more tolerant. It goes hand in hand.
The creativity index might sound like music in the ears for Swedes. But it’s useless unless we start see society as whole puzzle where all pieces are connected.
Read more of the Swedish Council of Cultural and Creative Industries here.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) used to be an organization seeing art and culture as a tool within international development. It was so important that a Department for Culture and Media was created with its own responsible officer.
Now winds are blowing differently.
The department is closed down since several years and to find art and culture, you have to look under the department responsible for questions such as freedom of speech, democracy, equality, environment and climate.
Between 2007 and 2011, the Sida budget for culture declined from 180 million SEK to 40 million SEK, Swedish Televion’s Kulturnyheterna (Culture News) reported on the 18th of January. With a fourth of the originial budget, many international cultural projects have lost their funding, among them now Selam, an established world music festival and organizer of education, development, inspiration, exchanges for artists in Sweden and East Africa.
Where art and culture used to be seen as a tool for grassroot development and democracy building, Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson, is instead talking of efficiency, results agenda, more distinctiveness. Sida is saying that the changes are due to orders from the government. The Minister says, in the tv interview, that this is a complete misunderstanding.
The fact is that the decline in money to culture projects at Sida coincides with the Conservative government in power since 2007.
It also coincides with the years when the Ministry of Culture published the report from the work of Kulturutredningen (Committe of Inquiry of Culture Policy) in February 2009, an inquiry proposing that culture should mainstream all policy. Sida’s decline in culture projects is exactly on the contrary of this.
It’s also during the years when Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications decided to release a plan for supporting Swedish development of cultural and creative industries. Small money has been invested, it’s true, but it’s at the same time the first time Ministry of Enterprise is discussing culture. Where this discussion goes, we will see.
Gunilla Carlsson seems to have missed all this.
Yesterday the newly formed Swedish Council for Cultural and Creative Industries gathered and the nine members headed by the Chair, Sven-Olof Bodenfors, met for the first meeting.
In 2009 the Swedish government presented an Action Plan for Cultural and Creative Industries (Handlingsplan för kulturella och kreativa näringar), where the objective is to create long-term sustainable conditions for entrepreneurship and enterprise within these industries.
The action plan was the first of its kind with a cooperation between Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication, two ministries with completely different roles, objectives and missions, but with the mutual interest on one hand (Ministry of Enterprise) to create good conditions for small-scale enterprises to grow in all areas of business, and on the other (Ministry of Culture) find ways of sustainability for artists running their own business, organization, or working as freelances. The possible collision in these two interests are obvious and worries are evident in cultural life that the state hereby take away all responsibility from the artistic core, research, the non-commercial side of culture which is so important for any society.
A worry that increased when the Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, decided to abolish the guarantees of income to artists. It has since it was established in 1966 been a guarantee awarded to artists with high artistic quality and who has been of great importance to the Swedish artistic scene. A small (and for the state cheap) way of showing appreciation to artists that usually have had lousy economic conditions during their productive time. Today 157 artists have the guarantee and on May 26 2010, the government voted for abolishing this.
The newly formed council is formed by nine members with different backgrounds; from fashion creator, to media, from advertising, to performing and sculpting art and to small-scale cultural organizations. The first meeting was promising for future intense discussions of the conditions of running small-scale businesses, being an entrepreneur, the potential in the field of cultural and creative industries, as well as the paradoxes that always are present in a complex field as art and culture.
In the end, the government bid should lead to incentives adjusted to the specific conditions of running something within the artistic and cultural field. And, in the best of worlds, of course, these must reach and be appreciated by artists in their studios, rehearsing room, and by their desks. For those within art and culture that want to find ways to explore and develop the enterprise side, the system should be inclusive rather than hostile to cultural entrepreneurs.
Download (in Swedish) Handlingsplan för kulturella och kreativa näringar: b0159c17.pdf.
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