Art, Art Institutions, and the State in the Welfare States of Norway and Sweden

Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


Although support for the arts and for artists existed even before the full institutionalization of the social democratic welfare state in Norway and Sweden, this chapter will reflect on the development of this support in the 1960s and the transformations that have taken place since then. I will examine public support for the arts, focusing on painting and sculpture.1 The chapter begins with an analysis of the historical development of cultural policy and then turns to the role of artist associations, whose goal it is to advance the economic supports and artistic autonomy of its members. Finally, it addresses recent developments in support for the arts, growing decentralization of funding and decision-making, changing relationships between the artists’ associations and municipal and state governments, and the growth of new attitudes and expectations among the younger generation of artists. I will focus on Norway and make some comparative comments on Sweden where they seem appropriate. The organization of art and art institutions as well as a number of developments in the art world are quite similar in the Nordic countries; yet there are also interesting differences among the social democratic states that have developed over the years.


Welfare State Public Support Cultural Policy Social Democratic Party Cultural Expenditure 
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© Victoria D. Alexander and Marilyn Rueschemeyer 2005

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