Culture Declaration Skåne 2019
The culture committee of the Region of Skåne outline in their plan for culture 2019 outlines how they defend and strengthen freedom of speech and how art and culture are vital pieces in the foundation of a democratic society. The culture committee wants to promote “a rich art-and cultural sector, with broad and specialist expertise, which all people should have access to on the same conditions.”
On the 10th of January 2019, the newly instated culture committee in the Region of Skåne made a decision to “pause” the funding and grants regularly made available to the independent cultural sector across all artforms, in order to meet the regional council’s financial conditions of cuts.
As a first measure this concerns the ‘open development grants’ and ‘specific means of development grants’ which have been allocated zero funds in this years budget. Being put on hold is NOT money intended for temporary bonus projects in addition to the region’s regular cultural infrastructure, but 20 million Swedish krona, as part of the basic funding for cultural provision across the entire cultural field in the region. In 2018, this equated to around 200 professional projects.
The decision affects the independent performing arts sector, a driver in development and increasing the regions attraction capacity, both artistically and economically. Those who are worst off this year are not organisations able to reduce their costs and in time re-emerge, this concerns operators at risk of disappearing completely. A decision such as this erases decades of development and establishment. Even if the level of funds are reinstated in the future, it will take a very long time to re-establish what we see today, and is counterproductive towards the development of sustainability which the region is working towards.
The development grants are, and have been for a long time, an important part of the total financial investment into the independent performing arts, together with the national, international funding and own contributions.
Should such a crucial part as Region Skåne disappear at this moment, the artists and cultural operators will also disappear and with them the vibrant, high quality, pioneering art field, which the region has made itself known for.
Further effects will be seen, for example, the funding the region receives via the ‘cultural cooperation model’ will be lost, meaning the performing arts culture in Skåne will be made invisible on a national and international level. A place where we since many years have showcased strength.
Independent artists and organisations with project funding work in collaboration with presenters receiving annual operational grants for managing institutions, theatres and cultural seasons of visiting companies work. Together they operate in an ecosystem already known to lobby for increased investment and resource. What the independent sector is responsible for, in relation to the established institutions and the commercial sector is, according to the cultural committees own wording, “a breadth and specialism which increases the capacity of innovation for the entire cultural field”.
The funding that being “paused” currently, has previously been given to a wider spectrum of voices and practises, to people from a wide spread of geographical areas, from disparate economic and social settings and to those that more than often highlight an idea, a question or a statement which isn’t being represented by our larger institutions. The independent cultural sector can react quicker to societal contemporary issues. It’s the independent cultural sector which often, in collaboration with educational organisations and other parts of civil society, actually reaches out across the entire region.
This concerns cultural provision for children and young people, culture in elderly care, in hospitals and for organisers in all our municipalities.
With this decision, ruling politicians are choosing to eliminate space and opportunity for us all to meet around topical issues. It’s a blow to democracy and the freedom of speech.
The regional council’s demanded cuts of 20 million swedish krona is for us completely incomprehensible when independent research in areas such as innovation, health, education and economy, shows that culture is a condition to our open and sustainable society.
We want the Region of Skåne’s politicians to take responsibility for the societal development they’re stating to aim to achieve. Where freedom of choice and democratic values are common goals. We require you to give us wise, informed arguments for your decisions and for Skåne, as a region, not to dismantle, but to progress.
For decades the Region of Skåne has contributed to a unique and strong cultural sector. Through one seemingly ill-considered, brash and disrespectful decision 20 million is eliminated in one blow. The cultural sector is a long-term investment which is not only impoverished, but demolished by this decision and could only regain ground once again with strong financial support.
Skåne’s cultural sector is standing united to continue to build for the future, therefore we want the Region of Skåne to:
Preserve the development grants work for long-term cultural investment and sustainability
Cooperate with cultural actors concerning these issues
The Network for Performing Arts in Skåne consists of 150 individuals, groups and associations, organisations and institutions from the cultural sector in Skåne whom with this declaration are represented by:
Banditsagor, Bombina Bombast, Karavan, Malmö Dockteater, PotatoPotato Scenkonst, Skillinge Teater, Thales Teater, Bastionen, Inkonst, Danscentrum & Teatercentrum.