Kultur av vem. En undersökning av mångfald i den svenska kultursektorn 2015. (Report in swedish, summary in english)


The Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis conducted a mapping study of foreign backgrounds among employees in the part of the cultural sector that is subject to government control. The cultural institutions studied are central museums, regional museums, national performing arts institutions, regional music, theatre and dance institutions and cultural agencies, companies and foundations. The study shows what percentage of the employees in the cultural institutions were born abroad or have two foreign-born parents in the period 2009-2012 in relation to the population in general. The survey is an in-depth follow-up of an earlier study of the period 2001-2004 that the Swedish Arts Council submitted to the Government in 2007.

The report shows that few changes occurred in the composition of the workforce in the 2000s. The percentage of employees with a foreign background remained at a constant level, just over 13 per cent, which was lower than the corresponding percentage of the population (20.1% in 2012). An underrepresentation has arisen in connection with an increase in the percentage of the population with a foreign background since 2004. The greater diversity in the population is not reflected in staff composition in the cultural sector. Our assessment is accordingly that the cultural sector is further from the target of reflecting the population than it was ten years ago.

There are, however, large variations within the cultural sector with regard to foreign backgrounds. The regional music institutions and the national performing arts institutions generally show a representative staff composition, while the regional museums tend to have the lowest percentage of employees with a foreign background.

Two groups in particular are underrepresented relative to their share of the population. One comprises individuals with foreign-born parents, who are more distinctly underrepresented than those who immigrated to Sweden themselves. The other consists of employees with a background in Asia, Africa or South America. Employees with a background in the Nordic region and the Anglo-Saxon countries are relatively overrepresented.

Another finding is that the percentage with a foreign background proved to be lower in management positions than among the employees in general. The representativeness of management has increased somewhat over time. In 2012, between 6.3-8.5% of management in the cultural sector consisted of those with foreign backgrounds.

The report also shows that the gender distribution in management positions in the cultural sector became more representative in the 2000s. Culture is still a female-dominated sector, particularly with regard to administrative positions. The proportion of women in management has grown although women in several parts of the sector are relatively underrepresented at the management level.

Comparing the cultural sector to the labour market in general, the average percentage of employees with a foreign background in the cultural sector is lower than the average in the labour market. Except for the regional music institutions and the national performing arts institutions, the cultural sector is less representative than the average workplace in this respect.

The fact that the percentage of the staff with a foreign background has not changed since 2004 may be attributable to several interacting factors. In the interviews, it came forth that the low staff turnover combined with a shrinking sector may be part of the explanation. We also analysed the findings in light of common explanatory models from earlier research. Our general conclusion is that training, recruitment structure, institution location, knowledge of Swedish and contact networks, discrimination and labour market fluctuations are significant factors, but they can hardly explain the entire situation. We have instead argued that we also have to take into consideration the institution’s operations and norms in cultural life.

Agency assessment

The Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis has the mission of conducting and presenting situation assessments from a diversity perspective. This study’s scope and the complex interactions presented and discussed do not, however, allow for extensive recommendations.

In light of the results and reasoning presented in the report, the Agency proposes, however, that the governance and follow-up of the diversity assignments to the cultural institutions should be reviewed. The report indicates that the political directives are of significance to the manners in which the cultural institutions choose to work with diversity and representativeness. Accordingly, one feasible way to achieve greater diversity in the cultural sector is to clarify the contents of the assignments regarding diversity.

The Government should also consider introducing a quantified target at a national or aggregated level with regard to diversity representativeness in the cultural sector. Changed directives and guidelines to cultural institutions combined with a clarified target, like the equality targets, are assessed to be able to improve the conditions for representativeness in the cultural sector.

Read the report (in Swedish)