The state of cultural policy governance in the Nordic countries

NEWS | 17 May 2018

A report investigating cultural policy governance throughout the Nordic region has been published by Kulturanalys Norden. It shows, amongst other things, that the responsibility for cultural policy is increasingly shifting from the national to the regional level.

Kulturanalys_Kulturpolitiks styrning_omslagThis new report on the governance of cultural policy and cultural policy reforms in the Nordic countries is published by Kulturanalys Norden (the Nordic Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis), tasked by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The report presents five texts by researchers from
the five Nordic countries, which map how the responsibility for cultural policy is divided between the national, regional and local levels in each country.

Major cultural policy reforms that have been implemented over the past 20 years, and general political changes that have affected the relationship of responsibilities and relations between the different levels, are also described.

Amongst other things, the summary points at differences in the national descriptions of goals (whereby e.g. Sweden has the most clearly stated objectives for cultural policy). But similarities are also identified, such as two main goals of cultural policy: to give everyone in the country opportunities to engage with a broad range of cultural provision, and to create a good climate for artists.

Another common trait is an ongoing shift, in which the national level is transferring economic power and responsibilities to regions and groups of municipalities. One of the assessments by Kulturanalys Norden is that, when financing is split between more than one level, it should be clearly stated which political level bears responsibility for cultural policy, in order to make it easier for cultural bodies on the ground.

An introduction and a summary, as well as the chapters on Finnish and Icelandic cultural policy, are presented in English.

Download the report (PDF): Cultural policy management. Responsibility and reform within the Nordic countries' cultural policy in the 21st century

Read the press release (in Swedish)


The report was presented at the Nordic Cultural Political Summit in Malmö on 8-9 May 2018, which brought together politicians from the whole Nordic region. The aim of the summit was to formulate perspectives on the co-operation regarding the Nordic cultural policy and exchange knowledge around the interaction between the local, regional and national, as well as the Nordic, levels in cultural policy and to identify cultural policy challenges and opportunities.

The summit was organised within Sweden’s presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2018 – download the programme via Nordpub or read more at Nordicom's website.