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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


8. Creativity and Culture

8.1 General context

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  1. Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation
  2. Main concepts

Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation

The Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis (Myndigheten för kulturanalys) has the main responsibility for official statistics within culture and leisure. In 2017, the agency presentented a study of trends in creativity and cultural participation among Swedes between 16 and 85 years of age (Kulturvanor. Socioekonomiska analyser och tidstrender  Kulturfakta 2017:2).

In this study, cultural practices the past 12 months were divided into four general groups: 

  1. Traditional culture
  2. Cultural environment
  3. Cultural participation
  4. Broad popular culture 


Traditional culture

Traditional cultureencompasses activities such as book reading, going to a theatre, listening to classical music/opera, visiting art exhibits and attending a dance performance.

Traditional culture has a strong correlation with socioeconomic factors. Women engage in traditional culture to a greater degree than men.

Only minor differences turned out when comparing age groups. For instance, among 16-29-year-olds, 90% had read a book the past 12 months, compared to 88% among 30-49-year-olds and 85% among 50-64-year-olds.

Among 16 to 29-year-olds, 15% had visited a classical music concert/opera (ages 65-85 years had the highest share, 20%). About 40% had been to a theatre, regardless of age.


Cultural environment

Cultural environmentconstitutes another general group of cultural practices. The term encompasses visiting historical sights/buildings, nature reserves/national parks, monuments and museums.

The correlation with socioeconomic background is clear, although somewhat weaker than in the case of traditional culture.

Differences between age groups are small. Among all participants, about 60% had visited a museum (61% among 16-29-year-olds).

About 60% had visited a nature reserve/national park (63% among 16-29-year-olds). Almost 50% had visited a historical sight (48% among 16-29-year-olds).


Cultural participation

Cultural participationconsists of, for example, singing in a choir/playing an instrument, playing theater, writing texts/poetry, handicrafts, drawing/painting and photographing/filming. Gender, socio-economic background and education are significant with regard to cultural participation.

Age plays a major role in cultural participation. Younger people participate to a significantly greater extent compared to elder. For instance, in the age range 16-29 years, the activity level of painting/drawing was 64%, compared to 42% in the age range 30-39 years and 23% in the age range 40-64 years.

Also, among 16-29-year-olds 35% had been singing in a choir/played a musical instrument, 11% had played theatre/acted, 57% had worked with handicraft/needlework, 35% had been writing poetry/kept a diary and 84% had been photographing/filming.


Broad popular culture

Broad popular culture includes activites such as playing computer games, watching movies, going to movies, attending pop/rock concerts and music listening. The feature most common to these activities is that they are part of contemporary popular culture, and that they are readily accessible, for example, digitally.

Age is the main factor influencing participation in broad popular culture. The younger a person is, the more likely she or he has engaged in these activities. Factors such as education, place of residence and socio-economic background have limited significance.

In the age range 16-29 years, 99% had listened to music, 99% had watched a movie, 90% had been to a movie theatre, 74% had played computer games and 54% had visited a pop/rock concert. 


Culture schools

Among children and young people in school age, about 181000 participated in extracurricular municipal culture school activities every week in 2018. That is about 10.6% of all 6-19-year-olds in Sweden. Most commonly the activities offered are music, theatre and musical, dance and circus, arts and media.

Among them, the largest share, 62%, are girls while 38% are boys. See section 8.2, Administration and governance, for more information on culture schools.


Cultural associations

According to the latest available survey conducted by the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society in 2013, a larger share of young women compared to young men between 16 and 29 years of age are active, or have been active, in an cultural association focusing on music, dance, film or theatre (45% among young women and 26% among young men).


Main concepts

Current cultural policy objectives were established in 2009. Swedish cultural policy objectives govern actors and institutions at the national level. They should also inspire and provide guidance to local government policies. The national cultural policy objectives are: 

'Culture is to be a dynamic, challenging and independent force based on freedom of expression. Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in cultural life. Creativity, diversity and artistic quality are to be integral parts of society’s development.'


To achieve the objectives, cultural policy is to:

  • promote opportunities for everyone to experience culture, participate in educational programmes and develop their creative abilities
  • promote quality and artistic renewal
  • promote a dynamic cultural heritage that is preserved, used and developed
  • promote accessibility
  • promote international and intercultural exchange and cooperation in the cultural sphere
  • pay particular attention to the rights of children and young people to culture.

The cultural policy goals specify that everyone must have opportunity to participate in cultural life. This can be taken to mean that gender, variations in levels of function, foreign background or place of residence in the country must not be an impediment for participating in cultural life. 


The right of children and young people to culture

According to the government cultural policy, there is a specific need to stress the rights of children and young people to culture:

'Children and young people are in many respects dependent on adults and have limited opportunities for influencing or taking responsibility for the environment in which they grow up. Society and the adult world therefore bear special responsibility for giving children and young people good and equal opportunities to take part in cultural life.

Cultural policy should provide the conditions that enable children and young people throughout the country to have access to cultural choices and cultural activities characterised by diversity and quality.

By experiencing culture, and devoting themselves to creative activities of their own, children and young people can retain and develop their imagination and independent thinking.'