Tag Archives: Kulturutredningen

the Culture investigation part 2


I am disappointed with the Culture investigation due to several factors, but most regarding the fact that it focuses on organizational aspects rather than on visions or practical aspects. Much of the result can be summed up by the suggestion that 24 authorities are to become three. Statements regarding this investigation are due in just 3 months, not much time to digest 900 pages and provide good comments. The plan is to kick this off in 2010.

Why the rush? Was super organisations really what we needed and/or wanted?

When confronted by the finance situation in the Cultural Heritage sector one can’t help but ask how the sector is to survive; as it slowly but surely has been dismantled for many years and according to plan this will continue.

In 2009 the Cultural sections of the County Administrative Board applied for ca 369 million sek (ca 36 million €) in appropriations. In the end 210 millions was granted i.e. a gap of 159 million or 43% less than was applied for. Now it’s not quite as bad as it looks. The applied money can be divided into two parts; money for basic activity and money for various project applications (which most often is sought from external partners such as museums via the Cultural sections of the County Administrative Boards). I would guess the latter part is ca 20% of the applied amount i.e. ca 74 million sek. A large proportion of these projects will never be realized neither will parts of the planned activities.

I feel that is a problem that there is such a big discrepancy between funds applied and approved as this shows that there is a great need for funding. Furthermore I believe it would be better for all parts if the museums and different organisiation where to apply directly to the National Heritage Board instead of making the extra step via the County Administrative Board.

In the beginning of this post I mentioned the dismantling of the cultural heritage sector (and for that matter many other government sectors), which have been lasting for several years. It is one thing if this was a clearly stated objective, against which the sector could respond to. As it is now the government do not to provide full compensation for price and wage developments, the 2008 ratio was approximately 0.8: 3. i.e. raising the allocation with 0.8% while prices and wages rose by about 3 percent is cut back with more 2,2 %. This combined with “market” rent for the premises occupied, which in many cases are rooms that may only be used for a single purpose, such as museums. The state gives with one hand takes it back with the other. The effect is that they slowly but surely dismantle the sector without adding special saving requirements, read more about it here (article in Swedish).

Unfortunately it feels like it doesn’t matter wheatear we have a right or left government, when none of them seems to have an ideological or visionary interest in these issues. The system was introduced by the Social democrats and is being retained by the non socialist government of today, i.e. the dismantling has been in effect for more than 15 years. And during this 15 years Sweden has been doing good financially. I don’t know if the effect has been 2 %/ year but either way it is a lot of money and services lost.  Now it must be said that it is in principle applicable to cultural policy as a whole and not only those related to cultural heritage.

As I see it most of the ideas that is brought forth in this investigation is yesterdays news, it feels old and dusty and do not set a vision for either today or tomorrow. Why place the Cultural heritage sector together with art and exhibits when most work we do is in a higher degree connected with issues regarding planning, development, environmental protection, landscape etc.

I hope that this proposal does not go through as it stands today.

Now I’ve sulked long enough on this, it is time for something more uplifting and less domestic; next post is on Osteology, and that’s a promise!


Magnus Reuterdahl

The culture investigation report (Sweden)

The culture investigation report is now published at Kulturdepartementets (The Ministry of Culture) webpage.

Kulturutredningens betänkande SOU 2009:16 (In Swedish)

It’s massive, ca 900 pages, though only portions of it are of direct interest to me. I’ll begin reading it or rather portions of it during the day. I guess I’ll have opinions on at least parts of it.

A first update;

One of the proposals is that a single authority with responsibility for issues concerning time, history and habitat is to be formed. This authority is to be formed by the current authorities; Riksantikvarieämbetet (the National Heritage Board), Riksutställningar (Swedish travelling exhibitions), Nämnden för hemslöjdsfrågor (The National Swedish Handicraft Council), Statens konstråd (The National Public Art Council) and Arkitekturmuseet (the Swedish Museum of Architecture).

I’m not sure if this is a good idea, I feel that it is a big risk that the issues regarding cultural heritage, archaeology and historic building etc. are being obscured by the issues regarding art and crafts or become an authority of mishmash with to many purposes and focuses.

I feel that most current issues in our field are better suited to be handled within either Boverket (The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning) or Naturvårdverket (the Environmental Protection Agency). Now this is my opinion and I do understand some of the reasons brought forth in the investigation, for example the connection between the Swedish travelling exhibitions the museums and the National Heritage Board. But in this case one must consider the differences between the museums and not bundle them together. I would rather propose the considered and rejected alternative; That two new authorities are to be formed: One authority on heritage issues formed by Riksantikvarieämbetet (the National Heritage Board), Riksutställningar (Swedish travelling exhibitions) and another authority on architecture, form and design formed by Nämnden för hemslöjdsfrågor (The National Swedish Handicraft Council), Statens konstråd (The National Public Art Council) and Arkitekturmuseet (the Swedish Museum of Architecture).

Kullenmannen (the hill man) also comments on the culture investigation report (in Swedish). It seems that our views on the matter of a new authority is more or less the same.

Update 2;

I note that the investigation proposes a big change; from “the cultural heritage are to be preserved, used and enrich people’s lives” to “the cultural heritage are to be preserved, used and interpreted.” Now that’s rethinking!

No, it is not rethinking but rather a form of recycling. It is a shift of focus; from the view that cultural heritage is something important for people in their immediate environment to the interpretation of cultural heritage. Does this mean that the government wants to go towards a narrative again, to return to knowledge rather than follow popular opinions? There is a part of this investigation that indicates just that, among other things it concerns the need for more resources to education and research. I will return to this as I’ve read this part more thoroughly!

Update 3;

Regarding the term interpret it is said in the investigation:

Vi har formulerat oss så att det skall vara tydligt att uppgiften att bevara, bruka och tolka kulturarvet är något som står öppen för envar och allra minst är något exklusivt ansvar för myndigheter och institutioner. Det tolkande inslaget i målet öppnar för en mångfald perspektiv på det kulturarv som tillhör alla. ” (Ch. 8.2.2. p.44-45)

We have formulated us so that it should be clear that the task to preserve, use and interpret the cultural heritage is something that is open to anyone and least of all is an exclusive responsibility of the authorities and institutions. The interpretive element of the case is open for a variety of perspectives on the cultural heritage that belongs to everyone.” (Translation of the quote by me)

If I hadn’t read the explanatory text, above, I would have interpreted it in another way, as I did. In this case interpret means it is open for interpretation by anyone, for a flicker of time I thought I saw a small glimpse of light; an opening for professionalism.

Update 4;

Reactions in Swedish newspapers 

Dagens Nyheter (all in Swedish);

Stora förändringar med Kulturutredningen  

Kultursverige kommenterar utredningen  

De nya kulturpolitiska målen

Kulturthriller mot sitt slut

“En del blir glada, andra inte”

Svenska Dagbladet (all in Swedish);

Rejäl ommöblering i kulturlivet

Visionen bakom ändrad organisation

Kultur viktigt som politiskt varumärke

Update 5;

That’s all for today, I’ve got a Darwin-post to write that will be up tonight or tomorrow and I’m flying to Stockholm for the weekend in a few hours. The Osteological association seminar is on Saturady so that’ll be a post as well. Lots to look foward to, I’ll get back to the investigation tomorrow or on Monday.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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