Independence and arms-length principle
In order to ensure freedom of expression in art and culture, grants to artists are given with no political strings attached and, of course, criticism of "the establishment" is permissible. Therefore, independence and the arms-length principle are fundamentals of Danish cultural policy.
The Danish state supports the creative arts in different ways- through grants to institutions, according to objective criteria or with a point of departure in the "arm's length principle". Where the arm's length principle is applied, neither politicians nor the Ministry of Culture are involved in the concrete subsidy allocation or act as arbiters of taste, but support is granted following a specialist evaluation of the applicant's artistic qualities. The ministry's role is first and foremost to act as architect of the framework for an overarching cultural policy and, in collaboration with the Parliament, to set the objectives and to create the structures that form the basis for cultural policy in Denmark.
The political framework for the arts support system is comprised primarily by the annual budget and arts support legislation. In certain cases, grants and targets for an area of the arts are determined for a period of several years through a political agreement between members of the national parliament. The legislation gives the Minister for Culture the power to make decisions about the arts support system, such as the power to select members of committees and boards, to enter into framework agreements, or to approve institutions' action plans.
Within such politically determined frameworks, institutions, councils and committees in the arts support system can organise their business themselves. Of total central government arts funding, 45% is allocated through political decisions. About one third is allocated through decisions made by arm's length bodies. 17% is allotted according to objective criteria, in other words made up of more or less automatic support schemes.