Parisa Liljestrand (M): I am uncompromising about “arm’s length distance”

Parisa Liljestrand (M): I am uncompromising about “arm’s length distance”

One of the things that the Government has highlighted as particularly important in cultural policy is the principle of an arm’s length distance between politics and the content of culture.

A general definition of arm’s length is that politics sets the framework with money and organization, but does not interfere with the content and artistic judgments. Parisa Liljestrand agrees with that definition.

– Culture must be free, she says.

The question of the freedom of culture and the principle of arm’s length distance between politics and the content of culture have been debated recently. The question has created confusion about what it is that applies.

The leading culture politician of the Sweden Democrats, Alexander Christiansson, has said that it is both a right and an obligation as an elected official to engage in any culture that is financed with tax money. Sweden Democratic politicians have also tried to stop tax-funded culture that they don’t appreciate, such as a story time with drag artists at a library in Kalmar last fall.

But politicians should not get involved in the expression of culture, says the Minister of Culture.

– No, but then you don’t keep at arm’s length. And it is important that it is held, not only at the national level, but also at the regional and municipal level. Every time you try to step in and decide on the content of the culture – then there are restrictions on what is our openness and democracy

Here it is you who is right and SD who is wrong?

Here I am quite uncompromising. It depends when it depends on the freedom of culture, it is stipulated in our joint Tidö Agreement. There are all parties that have joined the agreement. There we have all signed to live up to it and there this is already regulated.

The expectations of a minister of culture

So far, the new government has drawn more on the culture budget by 1.1 billion. Above all, it is the temporary pandemic support that has been removed, a support that many believe would be especially needed today. Parts of the cultural producers haven’t gotten their audience back after the pandemic and we’ve also had rampant inflation.

But Parisa Liljestrand believes that the government has made the right decisions. It is a matter of priorities, she says.

The Minister of Culture’s State Secretary Karin Svanborg Sjövall recently wrote an article in the magazine Axess – with the title “Time to think new”.

She writes, among other things, about a “swelling cultural bureaucracy out in the country, where strategies and cultural plans are chewed up for a benefit that is not obvious to me. There is a lot to clean up.”

Parisa Liljestrand says she has started cleaning. According to her, several decisions have been left behind by the previous government.

It’s about having the courage to make decisions, the courage to clean up and make sure that things don’t get stuck in bureaucracy, she says, and when asked if the number of authorities under the Ministry of Culture should be reduced, she answers yes. It is an issue her department will look into, as it could mean freeing up money.

Cultural canon

One of the government’s proposals is that Sweden should have a cultural canon, i.e. a kind of guideline or a description of what can be considered Swedish culture, or a common Swedish cultural heritage. That an “independent expert committee” should develop a Swedish cultural canon has been established in the agreement between the governing parties and the cooperation party Sweden Democrats, in the so-called Tidöavtalet.

But nine of the interest organizations in cultural life, among them the Authors’ Association, the National Artists’ Association, the Stage and Film Trade Union, have signed a petition AGAINST a cultural canon. Even the Swedish Academy has said that they do not intend to contribute to a cultural canon. Parisa Liljestrand is surprised by the resistance but admits that the work is only in the starting pits.

Guest: Parisa LiljestrandMinister of Culture (M)
Host: Johar Bendjelloul
Comment: Fredrik FurtenbachEkot’s political commentator
Technician: Joar Jonsson
Producer: Margareta Svensson

Source: ICELAND NEWS

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