• Sweden's news in English

Sweden calls time on lifetime artist stipends

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 17 Feb 2010, 14:03

Published: 17 Feb 2010 14:03 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"The income guarantee covers 157 artists and leaves all the others outside. I want more than 157 to get the possibility to develop their art," said culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth when presenting the government's plan.

The income guarantee is administered by The Swedish Arts Grants Committee (Konstnärsnämnden) and amounted to 17 million kronor in 2009, which will now be re-allocated as five and ten year scholarships. Recipients currently enjoy a guaranteed 18,000 kronor ($2,500) per month.

"The income guarantee is one of the forms of support for professionally active artists...to expand their possibilities to work and develop their art," the committee explains on its website.

The committee's chairperson Ingrid Elam has previously expressed support for the proposal, according to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, and the committee has proposed further changes to the government over how the grants are calculated.

"It is not defensible that the state, for perhaps 30-40 more years, maintain a flawed system," Ingrid Elam wrote in a statement of the committee's assessment of the proposal.

In its eight-page advisory opinion, the committee also warns of problems for established artists when the new pension system comes into force.

Several organisations representing those active within the Swedish culture and arts sector have expressed opposition and outrage at the changes.

"The government should extend the lifetime income guarantees to 200," said Karin Wilén at The Swedish Artists' National Organization, according to Svenska Dagbladet.

Several artists have expressed their view of the changes in the media in recent days. Film director Roy Andersson told the Aftonbladet newspaper that his grant has been very important to him and that he would likely have fallen into penury "on several occasions" without it.

But there are also those that argue that any changes are met with vocal objections from some quarters.

Story continues below…

"I can not understand the outrage. The money is not being taken away, just re-allocated - it is surely better for active artists to get a bigger slice of the cake," said arts and business advisor Susan Bolger to The Local on Wednesday.

The existing 157 artists included within the system, which provides a current guaranteed lifetime minimum salary of 18,000 per month, will not be affected by the changes and so the system is expected to exist for a while yet as the youngest recipient is 52-years-old.

Among the Swedish artists in receipt of a state income guarantee are included the clown Manne af Klintberg, author Jan Myrdal, film director Roy Andersson and the chess-player Ulf Andersson.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

16:03 February 17, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
Are these the same group who have free/subsidized lodgings on the north side of Soder overlooking the sea or am I confused?
16:47 February 17, 2010 by conboy
Oops looks like the party is over for the cultural elite any chance they might go after the free loaders of the Royal family anytime soon?
17:35 February 17, 2010 by Scepticion
Jan Myrdal: based on wikipedia he is a far left journalist. Seems more political than "artist" to me.

A chess-player is an "artist" ??

This sure looks like these people weren't selected for their artistic merits...

It would make sense that the stipend is adjusted based on income. As the income of a recipient increases, his stipend would be lowered. Then more people could profit. I am sure there are young real artists who could use some of that money.

Another question is, how do you rate "active"? At least with 5 or 10 year stipends, one can stop if they didn't produce anything. Evaluation would be by an international panel.
17:48 February 17, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
The problem with art is this. Art that is truely good, pays. But, for the most part, art never pays.

Why would the goverment get involved with distributing "scholarships" (if that's what it REALLY is) in the first place?
17:55 February 17, 2010 by Davey-jo
We have stipends like this in the UK; they're given to the Royal family.
18:03 February 17, 2010 by conboy
Myrdal will be off the state tit because of this? Excellent particularly following his remarks about troops serving in Afghanistan - the man is a contrary knob masquerading as an intellectual. He used to be an apologist for the China and US backed mass-murderers in Cambodia the Khymer Rouge
18:39 February 17, 2010 by travels
Most people actually have to work to earn U$2,500 a month; "the system" actually guarantees these people a lifetime minimum salary of 18,000 per month??. If their art was worth it they would be making that money on their own. Of course they are complaining that it might be taken away, so would I if I could just get that money for life without having to work to earn it and it might be taken away. This is an example of where tax money is spent. Some people work hard and pay taxes so others can live without much work, doing only what they like and only when they feel like it, with an income guaranteed so they don't have to struggle like the ones that provide them with a free ride. Ridiculous!!
22:18 February 17, 2010 by Plowbridge
It would be refreshing if many posters on here knew something about the issues before they give narrow minded knee jerk opinions.

The current Government have already taken away free entry in museums as part of a mass reduction in financial aid to the arts. The only motive is money with no thought as to the country's cultural needs.

Whilst the amounts sound high, the chosen artists are charged with providing a continual thread of leadership and continuity in their chosen fields which in turn provides enhanced benefits for the whole of Sweden. Of course 30-40 year deals are absurd and reviews should take place every 3-5 years. The worthy ones should be supported in their serving their country, not derided because they are paid to do it.
00:59 February 18, 2010 by Tiddler

I want to give that man Roy Andersson a damn good kicking for that comment about penury.

I too would fall into penury if I didn't work 50 hours a week to support myself.
01:22 February 18, 2010 by soultraveler3
Using tax payer money to provide free admission to museums makes MUCH more sense than paying for a bunch of "artists" $2500 / month.

If you're really good at art or even have a strange take on things but are willing to put some effort behind it you can usually make some money as an artist.

If these are supposed to be the "best" artist in Sweden then they especially should have no problem making money by selling or exhibiting their artwork.

Plow is right about making them be evaluated every few years. If it happened that way it would be better but they'd have to be evaluated by an impartial, international board of artist, art critics or museum curateors. There'd be no point in having the same bunch of pseudo-intellectual art aficionados who gave them a life time allowance and premission to be lazy do the evaluation.

I'm not bashing the artists, I know you can't force inspiration. Having been involved in the "art scene" back home it's been my experience that alot of artists also use that freedom to wait for inspiration as an excuse for laziness.

I just don't understand why these people can't do it like the rest of us. Get a job teaching art, working in a gallery or just a normal job until your art takes off enough to provide an income. If these are the best artists in Sweden earning $2500 a month on their own shouldn't be a problem. In most galleries you can't even buy a painting for $2500, the normal low-end is 5-8k and that's for only locally, semi-known artists. The "best" in the country should have no problem pulling down that in one week.
02:08 February 18, 2010 by Ugly A
I have applied for grant money from Konstnämden for a number projects without success. I have been advised by a several fellow artists not to expect too much due to the club attitude of the organization. Like so many things here, it sounds great from the outside how Sweden truly cares, putting its artists on permanent stipend. I have had friends from home say as much, only to be boggled that this too falls into the Swedish penchant for monopoly....oh, we have a painter already.

Anyway, good, change it up. Tired of this selfigh 60's generation having sucked up all the resources. Sure, if my work doesn't make an impact then that's on me, but if the advertised grants are merely a rouse and only given to those already in the club, then it smacks of corruption and fraud.
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available