8.10 Current debates and reforms
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A study of broadened participation in Culture School
In 2018, the Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) was tasked with establishing a national Culture School Centre. During 2022 and 2023, the Arts Council has had broadened participation as a special theme for the Culture School Center's activities. An important focus for the government's cultural school strategy is that the cultural school should reach more children and young people and broaden the target group based on background and conditions. A report from 2023 (Öppen verksamhet i kulturskolan) describes how cultural schools have worked with broadened participation and open cultural school activities.
The report presents the following results:
The most common method for broadening participation in the cultural school was introducing new subjects, conducting outreach activities and employing educators with competence in subjects that the municipality had previously not offered.
Among municipalities with open activities, approximately 70% direct all or parts of their open activities to special groups, mainly residents in areas with socio-economic challenges, residents in sparsely populated areas and children and young people with disabilities.
Almost 4 out of 10 municipalities state that they work with participant influence as a way to broaden participation. Both educators and participants feel that participant influence in the open activity is quite developed, but that the influence is not always based on well-thought-out strategies.
The participants go to the open activity mainly because it is fun and attach great importance to the social context. Another important reason is the practice of an art form itself. As a rule, the participants view their participation in the open activity very positively and highlight the pedagogues and their way of being as an important reason for this.
The Arts Council identifies four development areas in its conclusions. The development areas are:
- Clarified goals for the broadened participation and open activities
- Strengthened follow-up of open activities
- Developed strategic work with participant influence
- Strengthened cooperation at national, regional and municipal level
- State funding that contributes to the development of activities
Developing the Creative School
The Government has given the Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) the task of analysing how the government grant for cultural activities in school, Creative School (Skapande skola), can be developed with the aim of reaching more and new groups of children and young people. The final report, Översyn av skapande skola, was submitted to the Government Offices in November 2019.
The results in the final report confirm that the grant for cultural activities in the school is appreciated by those receiving a project grant. The grant gives students the opportunity to meet art and culture in different forms, try different art forms under professional guidance and develop their skills in ways that they according to the curriculum are entitled to.
The grant is also considered important from an equality perspective, as students who usually do not take part in cultural activities are given the opportunity through Creative School. However, the study has highlighted several challenges with the design of the grant, which need to be solved in order for new groups of students to be able to take part in Creative School activities.
The study confirms that all principals do not apply for grants or know the purpose of the Creative School grant. Principals in smaller schools perceive the grant's design as inadequately adapted to their circumstances. Small schools generally lack the administrative capacity for applying for government grants. One suggested solution is that the Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) should develop targeted information material for the target group, and that principals should have the opportunity of collaborating when it comes to Creative School grant application.
The review shows also that the principals have had difficulties interpreting parts of the grant regulation, as the concepts do not correspond with current policy documents for school. The formulations in the Creative School grant regulation need to be reviewed and adapted to the current governing documents for school.
Against this background, the Swedish Arts Council presents a number of recommendations and proposals. The main proposal is that the Government is recommended to adjust the regulation and clarify the purpose of the Creative School grant and give principals the opportunity to apply in collaboration.