Overall framework of Danish Cultural Policy

Ministry of Culture
Key objectives of the measure:

During the last 55 years the Danish cultural policy has been based on principles very similar to those which are inherited in the UNESCO 2005 Convention.In Denmark, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for the following policy areas: Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, Film, Architecture, Libraries, Higher Artistic Education, Archives, Museums, Zoological Facilities, Cultural Environment, Sport, Broadcasting, Copyright and non-formal education and democratic voluntary activities. Activities within these areas are in many cases financed fully or partly by public means. Public subsidies to culture are divided between two levels of public administration in Denmark: the central government and municipal councils.

Subsidies for individual cultural goals vary a great deal among different financial sources. For example, theatre is primarily financed by the State, while libraries receive most of their subsidies from municipal councils, and public support to sport mainly derives from municipal resources and lottery proceeds. 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 “armslength principle”. Independence and the armslength principle are fundamentals of Danish cultural policy. In order to ensure freedom of expression in art and culture grants to artists are given with no political strings attached and criticism of everyone - including “the establishment” - is permissible. Where the armslength principle is applied, neither politicians nor the Ministry of Culture are involved in the concrete subsidy allocation or act as arbiters of taste. Instead, support is granted following a specialist evaluation of the applicant’s artistic qualities. The Parliament act as architect of the structural and financial framework for an overarching cultural policy. In collaboration with the Parliament, the Ministry’s role is to implement the financial and legislative framework. [...] (Continues under question c.3)

Scope of the measure:
Nature of the measure:
legislative, financial, institutional
Main feature of the measure:

The political framework for the arts support system is comprised primarily by the annual state 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.There are three bodies in Denmark that allocate cultural support according to the armslength principle: the Danish Arts Foundation, the Danish Film Institute and the Media Board (“Medienævnet”) (established in 2014 following the Act on Media Support), which means that their decisions are final and cannot be overruled by appeal to another administrative or political body. The central government’s (i.e. the state’s) support for operational costs for arts institutions comprises over two-thirds of the total central government arts funding. The Ministry of Culture’s support for operational costs to institutions is, as a rule, determined by means of four-year result or framework agreements with institutions that also include strategy and objectives for the institution’s work over the coming four years. Within the scope of the framework agreements the institutions have a high degree of autonomy.

Access for all to a diversity of cultural expressions is an important goal in Danish cultural policy. Special emphasis is put on efforts with regards to minorities. Work is ongoing in the associations of general education, sports associations, at libraries and many other cultural institutions to ensure that there are platforms for intercultural meetings between the different cultures that exist at all levels of the Danish society. [...]

Results expected through the implementation of the measure:

[...]  Access for all to a diversity of cultural expressions is also achieved through decentralisation. The public funding system has secured that Denmark is geographically covered with a broad variety of cultural institutions, e.g. museums, theatres, orchestras, venues, libraries, music schools for children and young people, facilitating access to culture for everybody. The institutional infrastructure in the field of culture consists of a national and a local level only. The Ministry of Culture and the municipalities share the responsibility of implementing legislation and providing public funding for cultural institutions, activities, and projects. To read more about the different policy areas of Danish cultural policy see the website of the Danish Ministry of Culture http://www.kum.dk/english/Policyareas/

The following sections include a number of measures in the period 2012-2015 (including concrete projects), which serves as examples of various ways of accessing and promoting diverse cultural expressions.

Financial resources allocated to implement the measure:


Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)
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