of the Work and the Recommendations of the Government-appointed IT Committee
on Sweden´s Cultural Network
in Sweden by gotab
This report is a summary of the recommendations of the government-appoin-ted IT Committee on Sweden's Cultural Network, which were presented in the report IT in the Service of Culture (Swedish Official Reports series 1997:14, available in Swedish only). It also describes the workings of the Committee and how CultureNet Sweden can be realized. Associate Professor Bi Puranen was appointed Special Expert.
The underlying principle is that all of Sweden's cultural institutions shall be linked to the network and that information shall be available to everybody, both professionals and the general public, via the Internet.
Initially, CultureNet Sweden will take the form of a three to five year project, starting in 1997, funded by three research foundations: the Foundation for Knowledge and Competence Development, the Foundation Culture of the Future and the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.
These foundations have also financed four of the five workshops organized by the Committee and which are described in more detail in this report. The report itself has been financed by the Foundation for Knowledge and Competence Development.
Stockholm, April 1997
information technology is no respecter of boundaries. The new technology
opens up completely new possibilities. It is, in the opinion of many,
simpler, cheaper and more fun both to find and disseminate information.
Thanks to IT we can sit on our sofa at home and enjoy texts, images, sounds and films that were previously scattered over many different places and could only be accessed personally on site. IT can also help bring about the development of new forms of expression and the broadening of participation in public debate.
IT in the service of culture
Sweden is entering the Information Society. Our tool is information technology, which can be used to store, disseminate and develop our culture, our language and our identity. The rapid development of IT means a growing need for cooperation across institutional boundaries and between different sectors of society. For this reason, the Swedish Government decided in the autumn of 1995 to appoint a Special Expert to make recommendations for an integrated strategy for the use of information technology by cultural institutions, and for the creation of a digital network for culture in Sweden. The terms of reference can be found in Appendix 3.
In January 1997 the IT Committee on Sweden's Cultural Network presented its recommendations in the report IT in the Service of Culture, (Swedish Official Reports series 1997:14). A summary of the report can be found in Appendix 1.
Briefly, the report recommends an IT strategy based on the creation of a CultureNet Sweden. The objective is to increase public access to Swedish culture, inspire creativity and participation in cultural life, improve communication between producers of culture and the public, and increase cooperation and the exchange of experiences between cultural institutions.
The primary objective of the CultureNet Sweden recommendation is to make culture more accessible. The cultural network can be compared to a spider at the centre of a web, collecting, sorting and disseminating Swedish culture via the Internet. The aim is that as much as possible of the full range of culture is gathered in one place: CultureNet Sweden's homepage.
The Committee has endeavoured to be open and outward-looking in its work. Its Secretariat has therefore participated in a large number of conferences and seminars, visited and invited in representatives of cultural institutions from all over Sweden, made field trips to Canada, Denmark, France and Great Britain, and put out information on the World Wide Web in order to spread awareness of the Committee's work. A seminar on Nordic cultural networks was arranged with the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
In addition, the Committee organized five workshops where active representatives of Sweden's cultural world discussed different aspects of a Swedish cultural network. Those invited represented cultural institutions and authorities, ministries and foundations which support cultural projects, and independent producers of culture. Three workshops were financed by the Foundation for Knowledge and Competence Development, and one was financed jointly by the Foundation Culture of the Future and the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. A summary of the discussions that took place at these workshops can be found in Appendix 2.
CultureNet Sweden, a virtual library
The homepage is to provide access to the whole of Sweden's cultural world. All libraries, archives and museums which have put material on the Internet should be included, as well as artists, musicians, writers, and so on.
The information on the cultural network will be easy to find thanks to search tools. Someone looking for material on Ingmar Bergman, for example, will find not only his films but also his books and plays, along with information about where they are kept and where they can be seen. In this way the cultural network will be a cultural database.
CultureNet Sweden will also have a market-place and an events calendar. It should be possible, for example, to order a copy of Bergman's book 'Laterna Magica´, or to find out where the film 'Fanny and Alexander´is being shown and to book tickets for it via e-mail.
The cultural network will also be a cultural forum for anyone wishing to discuss any aspect of culture. Electronic discussion groups will be able to talk about anything from the Government's cultural policy to Ace of Base's latest record.
The hope is that the cultural network will not only pass on information but also generate new art, music, etc. The Internet will be both a tool and a means of expression that will allow the creation of virtual works of art and exhibitions.
New technology opens up new possibilities for cultural activities, but the cultural network should by no means replace actual cultural experiences such as concerts and visits to museums. Culture on the network should be seen instead as having a complementary function, attracting and whetting the appetite both of a public already interested in culture, and of a public that does not regard itself as particularly interested. Two important tasks for the network will be to draw attention to the cultural highlights at any one time, and to display things that are not accessible by any other means. It ought to be possible, for example, to look at delicate, light-sensitive archive documents, read out-of-print books, and listen to music that has been refused by record companies.
The cultural network should function as a virtual library a knowledge bank where everyone can take part in and contribute to Sweden's cultural life. In order to illustrate how the cultural network can work, the Committee has created a prototype with links to pages containing Swedish cultural material on the World Wide Web. The prototype can be found on the Internet address www.kulturnat.iva.se
IT as an instrument for democracy
The wishes and requirements of the user will determine the form the cultural network takes. It may be possible, for example, to sit in your kitchen and use the Internet to find a painting in the collections at the National Art Gallery in Stockholm.
Those who do not have access to the new technology at home or at work must be given the opportunity to use the Internet at their nearest library, museum, school or municipal advice office. It is important that everyone knows how to use it, so that the Swedish population is not divided into first- and second-class IT citizens.
CultureNet Sweden will be an instrument for greater democracy, and for giving everyone access to the cultural treasures that we have acquired and built up together through our combined resources and energies. Therefore, a basic premise is that the material should as far as possible be accessible without charge to the user or the cultural producer.
Organization and financing
The Committee recommends the setting up of a CultureNet editorial office to advise and support those producing and working with culture so that they are able to use IT to make culture accessible through the Internet. The office will also create and develop the cultural network's homepage, coordinate different discussion groups and edit a digital cultural forum. Bi Puranen, the Special Expert, recommends that the editorial office should be set up in 1997 while the Committee's recommendations are still under consideration by Parliament. The reasons for this are the rapid development of IT and the fact that many cultural institutions and other producers of culture are already seeking advice on how to make use of IT.
of cultural institutions have also begun digitalizing material and/or
making their activities available on
The Foundation for Knowledge and Competence Development, the Foundation Culture of the Future and the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation have agreed to finance the Swedish cultural network in the form of a three to five year project, depending on how long funds last. At the end of the period Parliament will decide whether the cultural network is to continue and, if so, in what form.
On 13 March 1997 the Government commissioned the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences to build up and administer a common digital network for the cultural institutions, a CultureNet Sweden. The project shall be managed in close cooperation with the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.
The editorial office will be under the leadership of a steering group appointed by the Ministry of Culture. This group will be responsible for policy issues, will determine the economic framework, decide on the services the cultural network shall offer users and producers, and decide the criteria for participation in the cultural network.
In addition, a body of representatives from the two academies is set up to help focus the expertise of the academies on the cultural network.
The editorial office will be run in the first, interim year by the same people that made up the Secretariat of the Committee.
CultureNet Sweden will be a Web site through which the user can digitally access as much as possible of the culture that exists and is being created in Sweden. The objective is a CultureNet Sweden that offers the opportunity to
- find out about literature, art, music, theatre, films, museum collections, archive material, cultural sites, etc.,
- find out how, and with what, institutions, authorities, organizations, associations and other interest groups and individuals active in the cultural field are working,
- take part in electronic cultural discussion groups,
- obtain information about education and research in the cultural field,
- find out about studies of, and official decisions affecting, the world of culture,
- make contact with cultural producers, authorities and politicians,
- find out about cultural events and places of interest all over Sweden,
- book and pay for tickets, books, CDs, CD-ROMs and so on,
- create, alone or with others, virtual reality works of art and texts,
- connect up with international electronic cultural networks.
The CultureNet's editorial office is at the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. Welcome to contact us at:
S-102 42 Stockholm
tel: +468 791 29 81/83/84/85
fax: +468 791 29 82
Internet address: www.kulturnat.iva.se
Appendix 1 Summary of our findings
We have been asked to frame an integrated strategy for the use of information technology (IT) by public authorities and institutions in the cultural field, and to make recommendations for the setting up of a common cultural network (CultureNet Sweden).
The following is a chapter-by-chapter summary of our findings, presented in the report IT in the service of culture, (Swedish Official Reports series 1997:14, available in Swedish only).
In the introductory Chapter 1, the Special Expert, Bi Puranen, Associate Professor of Economic History at Stockholm University, outlines the task as she sees it. The overall objectives of the investigation are to increase access to Swedish culture through the use of IT and to try to prevent the emergence of first- and second-class citizens with respect to information technology.
Bearing in mind the rapid changes and developments in IT, the instruction to present a strategy for the use of IT by all of Sweden's cultural institutions and authorities has been construed as meaning to make recommendations for a statement of objectives.
Chapter 2 summarizes the cultural institutions' usage of IT and degree of digitalization, which was presented in its entirety in the inquiry's interim report (Swedish Official Reports series 1996:110). The review is based primarily on replies to a questionnaire that were collated in the spring of 1996.
It is clear from the replies that the cultural institutions have come a long way in their use of IT. The number of homepages is increasing, multimedia productions are becoming increasingly common, and all over the country people working with culture are going on Internet courses to learn how to use the new technology. The bodies that have come furthest in their use of IT are the institutions of higher education, media organizations and research libraries. Interest in the new technology is considerable, and the cultural institutions have many plans and visions for the future.
The review also reveals that large parts of the cultural institutions' records already exist in digital form, and that extensive digitalization is going on in Sweden's cultural world. This applies primarily to new acquisitions and parts of collections that are asked for regularly, seldom complete documents or objects. Older catalogues, photographs and local collections are not digitalized to the same extent.
have made the digital material externally available to the public. Only
a few libraries and museums, for example, have put retrievable records
onto the Internet. Archive institutions record the content of their collections
on the National Archives' database. The content of the database is available
on CD-ROM the NAD (National Archives Database) disk and there
are plans to make the material accessible through the Internet. The collections
Music, theatres, mass media, public authorities, foundations, interest groups, voluntary associations and other groups covered in the summary of the findings of the questionnaire are highly heterogeneous, but among these too there are large quantities of digital material which should be of interest for a Swedish cultural network.
We believe that non-governmental institutions should largely decide for themselves which parts of their collections should be digitalized. The institutions know their own material best, and know what is most in demand. If an institution fails to digitalize material that is of great public interest, however, the Government should, via the annual budget document, steer digitalization in the desired direction.
It is important to establish more effective cooperation across institutional boundaries, in order to agree on common regulations on how different cultural institutions should classify and catalogue their material.
In Chapter 3 we review other studies and work carried out by government offices concerning IT and/or culture. We outline the work of the IT Commission, the IT Committee, the Sesame Project, the Junior IT Council, the Top Manager's Forum, the Media Committee, the Swedish Governmental Data Act Committee, the Investigation of the Swedish Section of the Internet, the Committee on Basic Electronic Governmental Information, the Commission on Distance Education, the Revision of the Legal Deposit Act, and an inquiry into electronic cash. We also present 1996 legislation on IT, culture and research.
The new technology opens up new possibilities, but it also means that existing laws and regulations need to be reviewed and new ones drawn up. The inquiries that we have reviewed concern many different aspects of the construction of a Swedish cultural network.
Several projects are currently under way concerned with creating information networks in different sectors of society. Sweden on the Internet, the Swedish EnviroNet, the Research Information System and LIBRIS are examples of Internet-based information projects which are presented in the chapter. A Swedish cultural network should monitor developments in, forge links with, and exchange experiences with other international, national, regional and local networks.
We have also reviewed studies of the use of IT in Sweden. All show that it is increasing rapidly. Reports presented include Statistics Sweden's Computer Use 1995 and Data about Information Technology in Sweden 1996, the National Agency for Education's Computers in Schools 1995, NUTEK's Telecom Services in Sweden Infrastructure and Use of IT 1995 and a number of smaller studies on the use of the Internet in Sweden.
The experiences of other countries are reviewed in Chapter 4. We have chosen to study developments in some countries and within some international organizations which seem to us to be using IT in the cultural sector in a way that can be of interest and from which we can learn.
In the European Union there are different programmes to support European culture and encourage cultural cooperation between EU member states in the field. The G7 countries have committed themselves to the realization of the global information society and have, among other things, started four cultural projects on the subject. For UNESCO, access to and training in information technology is an important priority.
The Nordic Council of Ministers has set up a working group for IT within the cultural sector. The duty of the group is to give advice on how the national cultural networks which are set up can also be given a Nordic dimension.
The Nordic countries are generally well to the fore in IT use and the setting up of information networks. All the countries have formulated or are in the process of formulating IT strategies, and their plans for national cultural networks are far advanced. In Denmark there is already a CultureNet Denmark, which will be officially opened in the spring of 1997.
Other examples of European countries that are well advanced in the IT-cultural field are Great Britain and France.
We also report on the development of IT in the cultural field in Australia, Japan, Canada and the USA. IT strategies have already been formulated in these countries, and several interesting IT projects concerned with culture are under way. Canada, for example, is in the process of establishing a comprehensive national cultural network, and in the USA there are already several local networks.
By its very nature, information technology crosses boundaries, which means that the importance of cooperation across national borders will increase. It is important that both CultureNet Sweden and Sweden's cultural institutions monitor international developments and take part in the various ongoing projects in order to share and learn from the experience of others.
Chapter 5 begins with definitions of 'culture´, 'cultural institutions´and 'IT´. It also discusses people's different starting points for using information technology.
One requirement if people are to have access to culture via IT is that they have access to and know how to use the necessary equipment. At the same time, many studies show that access to IT is unevenly distributed among the population in Sweden. In general it is mainly men, the better educated and the young who take advantage of what information technology has to offer, while women, the less well-educated and older people have less access to IT. We recommend, therefore, more training opportunities for both young and old in order to reduce the differences in our citizens' access to IT. We also recommend investment in computers for use by the general public at libraries, schools and municipal advice centres, so that those who do not have equipment of their own and/or are not linked to the Internet have the chance to enjoy what IT has to offer.
Information technology can also be a great help for people with functional disabilities. Therefore, consideration must be given to the disabled when different IT environments are created. The participants in CultureNet Sweden should follow the guidelines provided by the Swedish Handicap Institute on how information should be presented on the Internet.
CultureNet Sweden can also help increase contacts between Sweden and other countries, as well as between immigrants and the rest of the Swedish population. Information on Swedish culture which is published on the Internet should, therefore, as far as possible also be made available in English and the larger minority languages.
Chapter 6 discusses how the collections and records of cultural heritage institutions can be made available to the public, researchers and other institutions through information technology. What has been digitalized so far is mainly the records of the various institutions, while individual documents and objects are still only to a very limited extent available in electronic form.
If information is to be easily retrievable it is most important that it is all recorded in the same way. It will then be possible, through the Internet, to link up the various cultural institutions' directories and databases so that they are retrievable via CultureNet Sweden.
If the search is to give the desired results then there needs to be agreed formats for writing the names of persons, institutions, organizations, geographical locations and other items. Substitute formats are also needed if information is to be easily moved between different systems and between different generations of system (interoperability).
Work is being done on creating registration authorities for personal names, legal entities, geographical locations, images, photographs and letter-writers. Established forms already exist for printed text, sheet music, sound recordings, video recordings, films, archives, collections of objects, photographs, maps and drawings. The basics for formats for letter-writers and manuscripts also exist. On the other hand, there are no formats for such things as registers of ADP media (magnetic tape, cassettes, CD-ROM, etc.), microfilm and documents published on the Internet.
Cooperation on authorities saves time, improves the quality of the recorded data and facilitates data retrieval. The institution with most experience of a particular type of authority should be the one that takes primary responsibility for registering that authority.
Work to create international standards and guidelines for describing digital information is being carried out in the archives and museums sectors, while the libraries have long had standardized international description systems. The libraries have also led the work of creating standardized rules for authorized name formats.
It is important that the cultural institutions in Sweden follow as closely as possible the international guidelines that have been worked out. There is cooperation in Sweden within, for example, the public archives, BIBSAM (libraries) and Insam (museums), and also across sector boundaries, such as in the ABM group, the purpose of which is to identify areas for cooperation and make information in archives, libraries and museums accessible to the user in the same way or similar ways.
The state should require state-financed cultural institutions to follow regulations for the classification and designation of cultural material that already exist or which are being worked out.
Chapter 7 deals with the technical requirements for CultureNet Sweden. The chapter begins with a description of the Internet as a system in a state of constant change. Both producers and consumers of information, and manufacturers and suppliers of technical equipment share in the development. The development of standards on the Internet is a flexible and often effective process which, if the standards are followed, ensure that one does not risk being locked into a technical solution but is able to keep up with developments.
One important reason for recommending a cultural network on the Internet is the increase it will bring in opportunities for communication between producers and consumers of culture. The different degrees of interactivity which exist on the Internet make it possible for the user to be an active participant instead of a passive spectator. Services for sending and receiving e-mail, for example, or taking part in discussions, or being actively creative oneself are constantly being developed; new users and new uses demand a high degree of interactivity.
The cultural network should be used to direct the user to the services within the field of culture that are available on the Internet. Both experienced and novice users should be offered interesting services. To make the information accessible to the user, cataloguing and search services are necessary.
A retrievable system requires a certain degree of standardization of what can be retrieved, what data is to be included, and so on. Metainformation information about information is useful in creating such a standardization and thereby guaranteeing the quality of the search service. A collection of metainformation facilitates structuring and coordination in a completely different way than that allowed by the information on its own. Therefore it is recommended that the participants in CultureNet Sweden include metainformation on their Web pages.
Directories arranged by subject, geographical area, etc. should be used to augment the search service. They convey to the user what is known as organizing information and make it easier for him or her to obtain a picture of the structure and organization of the information.
The chapter ends with a review of the infrastructure for data communication and prepares the way for digital information to enter the home. Much of the technology required for expanding the infrastructure has already been developed but still costs far too much to become popular. Future developments will largely be steered by demand, and that probably means that high capacity computer communication will not reach everyone for some considerable time. We discuss the agreed upgrading of SUNET (the Swedish University computer NETwork) for libraries and museums, and emphasize the importance of the National Archives being connected in the same way.
Chapter 8 reviews the legal issues that can arise in connection with digital production. We go through constitutional issues, Data Act legislation, misuse of the Internet and copyright questions that concern digital technology.
It is not
clear whether the Freedom of the Press Act or the Fundamental Law on Freedom
of Expression applies to statements on the Internet. We can, however,
assume that this is the case. The applicability of the two laws is currently
being investigated and a recommendation will be presented in March 1997.
Different types of crime and misuse of the
Copyright is divided into economic and moral rights. Economic rights mean that the originator of the work is entitled to remuneration for the systematic exploitation of his work, that is other use than for private use. Moral rights mean that a work may not be manipulated without permission, and that in accordance with established practice the originator's name shall be given.
Several different projects which are in progress at the moment are aimed at facilitating copyright management on the Internet and in other digital contexts. Since the Internet is a global market, most of the projects began as a result of some form of international cooperation. Copyright is of international relevance, has become the most important branch of law and is an important trading commodity. There are several international conventions which coordinate the national copyright legislation of different countries. The need for international agreements has increased in recent years and at the end of 1996 the WIPO Conference revised some sections of the biggest international agreement, the Bern Convention, which was drawn up in the 1880s.
Chapter 9 takes up the economic aspects of digitalization by the cultural institutions. Government financing issues are discussed, as well as more concrete measures for financing a cultural network. The chapter also discusses whether the services offered by CultureNet Sweden constitute a collective commodity and, if so, whether it would be economically profitable for the state to create it. The costs to users, producers and the state are discussed, and the advantages to them of creating a digital network are taken up.
Our recommendations for an integrated IT strategy for cultural institutions set out in chapter 10 are based on the premise that the institutions should make use of IT to increase the accessibility of their activities and information resources. The setting up of a national digital network, CultureNet Sweden, would be an important link in this process. At the same time, the cultural network can inspire creativity, and increase participation in cultural life. The network gives the cultural institutions access to a larger audience and to a forum for the exchange of information and experiences, which can stimulate greater use of IT by the cultural institutions and increase cooperation between them. The cultural network should be based on Internet technology and Internet standards, and use of the network should as far as possible be free.
The cultural institutions have widely different possibilities for digitalizing their activities. It is important, therefore, that each cultural institution formulates its own IT strategy based on its own objectives and requirements. Such a strategy should be regularly revised in step with changing needs.
Large parts of the work of the cultural institutions can and should be digitalized. Digitalization can improve the quality of images, reduce wear and tear on objects, and make information easier to find and retrieve. Digitalization means that material can also be published on the Internet and CD-ROM.
Computerization and digitalization presuppose that each cultural institution has a well-developed information management infrastructure. Bearing in mind the rapid spread and development of the Internet, the cultural institutions should base their local computer infrastructure on Internet standards, and allow the infrastructures to develop in step with developments on the Internet.
11 a recommendation is made of how a Swedish digital cultural network,
a CultureNet Sweden, could
We see the cultural heritage institutions as the basis of a future CultureNet Sweden. Archives, libraries and museums have enormous, often publicly financed, data and information resources, which should be given a wider circulation. But the cultural network should also function as a platform for sub-cultures of various types, and accommodate culture in its broadest sense.
The cultural network can contain information about culture, but also search possibilities for different types of records and databases, cultural expressions in the form of sound, text and images, virtual exhibitions, list serves and contributions to debates. It is also suggested that the cultural network should include an events calendar, and function as a market-place where tickets, books, magazines, CDs, CD-ROMs, etc., can be ordered.
The user should be able to search the contents of CultureNet Sweden without needing to know which institution or producer is responsible for a particular activity. Therefore, those contributing to the cultural network should follow a number of recommendations on the presentation of material. The recommendations include seeing that the pages are provided with index words, that they are readable by as many Web users as possible, protected against manipulation and regularly updated, and take into account copyright and the special needs of the functionally disabled.
An editorial office is recommended to provide advice and support to producers of culture wanting to make their material digitally available on the cultural network through, for example, a manual on the construction of Web services. The editorial office should also be responsible for the cultural network's homepage and collective activities such as discussion groups and a special arts forum on similar lines to the arts pages in a newspaper but in electronic form. It is recommended that the editorial group is appointed and led by a steering group that is also responsible for strategic and financial questions. The steering group should also appoint a number of reference groups.
During an introductory period of three to five years it is recommended that CultureNet Sweden is run as a full-scale trial under the joint responsibility of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities. This would give the cultural network access to the two academies' considerable competence in IT and culture respectively. Among the reasons for recommending that the organization take the form of a project group is that the cultural network will run for a limited trial period, and that a project can be externally financed.
Initially, the Foundation for Knowledge and Competence Development, the Foundation Culture of the Future and the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation are prepared to jointly finance the construction of a cultural network. The operation should begin immediately with a provisional organization while the recommendations are being dealt with by the Government Offices. Subsequently, Parliament should decide whether the state is to share economic responsibility for CultureNet Sweden.
During the trial period the cultural network's activities should be carefully monitored and assessed so that the decision whether to make it a permanent arrangement can be based on well-documented activities and a socio-economic analysis.
Appendix 2 Summary of the workshop reports
How can the Committee best prepare the way for the creation of a Swedish digitalized cultural network? In order to help answer these questions five workshops were arranged at which representatives of different sectors of Sweden's cultural world were invited to express their opinions.
workshop discussed the cultural network as an infrastructure for research,
education and the enjoyment of culture. The discussion continued at the
second workshop, where different types of established digital meeting-places
were discussed as possible models for a cultural network. At workshop
number three the Committee decided to encourage the expression of critical
viewpoints in a free discussion of the possibilities and limitations of
a cultural network. Technical requirements were the subject of the fourth
workshop, where the advantages and disadvantages of various technical
solutions were taken up. The fifth and final workshop concerned the financing
and organization of a Swedish digitalized cultural network.
A digitalized cultural network as an infrastructure for research, education and the enjoyment of culture
The first workshop on 15 April 1996 took the form of an introductory dialogue on some of the basic questions that need to be answered if a cultural network is to become a reality. Many of the participants came from such cultural institutions as libraries, archives and museums, as well as universities and other institutions of higher education. The discussion concentrated on three issues:
- an integrated strategy for digitalizing the collections of archives, libraries and museums,
- the public's needs and expectations of a cultural network,
- a preliminary discussion of the economic and legal implications of a Swedish cultural network.
The day began with a presentation by Jesper Rønnow Simonsen from the Danish Ministry of Culture of the Danish cultural network, which has been under construction since May 1995. CultureNet Denmark has two main purposes: to establish an exchange of information between cultural institutions, and to facilitate access to cultural information by individuals and institutions using information technology (IT). The Danish cultural network is highly decentralized. Involvement is voluntary, and relies on initiative and financing from the cultural institutions themselves.
This presentation was followed by reports from the archives, library and museum sectors on the situation in Sweden. The participants agreed on the importance of the archives, libraries and museums finding an integrated strategy for the digitalization of their collections, so that both researchers and the general public can retrieve information without needing to know where the material in question is stored. This is essential for the setting up of a cultural network.
Kerstin Assarsson-Rizzi, Chief Librarian at the Library of the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, pointed out that the essential difference between libraries, archives and museums is that a library's documents are not unique, but are often published in large quantities and distributed around the world. This, she said, explained why libraries have come so much further in the effective use of resources in common computer systems, and in communicating and exchanging information with each other. Libraries have a considerable advantage in having established and standardized systems for describing bibliographical information.
Göran Kristiansson of the National Archives spoke about the role of archives. At the National Archives, work has been going on since 1990 to produce a national archive database. The aim is to create a basis for a uniform system for recording archive information, irrespective of whether it is held at different archive institutions, libraries or museums, and put the result into a database for distribution on CD-ROM. One prerequisite for the work was a common body of rules for recording information. For this purpose the National Archives produced a data element directory, which stipulates what is to be recorded and how. Also important for the body of rules is authorities: that is agreed ways of writing the names of persons, geographical locations, institutions, and so on.
Bengt Wittgren, doctoral student of Museology at Umeå University, talked about the situation with respect to museums. The museum sector lacks the clear-cut hierarchy that the archive sector has, with the National Archives at the top, or that the library sector has, with the Royal Library at the top. Bengt Wittgren explained that the problem with digitalizing museum information is that the quality has a tendency to worsen when the data is transferred from one medium to another, such as from a card index to a computer system. The main areas of cooperation so far have not been control systems but applications: that is the different database tools that are available to the museums for records management.
In the ABM group, representatives for archives, libraries and museums are discussing cooperation on cross-sector issues. Making the Swedish cultural heritage accessible to the people is seen as of obvious importance to democracy.
Cary Karp is Director of the Department of Information Technology at the Museum of Natural History, and chairman of an International Council of Museums (ICOM) working group. He spoke about international cooperation in the museum sector. ICOM comes under UNESCO, and also works with the other UNESCO initiatives, primarily the World Heritage project. The latter has started its own 'World Heritage Information Network´, the purpose of which is to link together resources across library, archive and museum boundaries. For ICOM, Internet is the only possible solution. At the same time, it is important that the Internet project does not create a technology gap. ICOM is global and a large number of its members live in third world countries. Therefore e-mail is at least as important a means of communication, since it does not impose great demands on the technological infrastructure, but does allow people the opportunity to express their opinions instead of simply consuming.
Hans Rengman of the Bohuslän County Museum said that in-service training in the museum sector must be improved if the museums are to catch up with the archives and libraries in digitalizing information. Sven Nilsson, Chief Librarian at Malmö City Library talked about local information networks, where the idea is to fill the network with local information.
One way of avoiding a division between first- and second-class IT citizens is to create interfaces and search systems that do not prevent people searching for information through their lack of technical expertise. At the workshop several examples were given of projects that focus on the user, such as the municipal IT project in Ronneby, where the public has access to community information and culture via the computers at the local library. Ronneby is a traditional industrial community with a low general level of education and high unemployment. In order to improve the situation, the municipality has concentrated on IT by
- opening a university college in 1987,
- starting Soft Center, where about fifty companies are working together on computer issues,
- commissioning two researchers at the university college to make recommendations for a municipal development strategy, 'Ronneby 2003´.
At the library there is Forum Ronneby, a user interface consisting of several different components. It enables the user to search the library's catalogues, get onto the Internet via the municipality's server, and reach the electronic municipal advice office, Ronneby Guide. It is, in the opinion of Maj-Stina Pettersson, librarian at Ronneby, important that Forum Ronneby is at the library, as this is where everyone comes and where knowledgeable staff are available to help visitors search for information.
Several of the participants also underlined the importance of ensuring that the material that is made available is of relevance and interest to the user.
Björn-Axel Johansson, project manager at the University College of Kalmar, talked about the significance of the new technology for institutions of higher education in the smaller towns. The University College of Kalmar is developing distance working and distance education, and provides a good example for cultural institutions and for the development of IT for an entire county.
Benny Regnér of the National Agency for Education talked about some of the projects currently being carried out on the Swedish school computer network. Thomas Ohlin, one of the Committee's experts, talked about the emergence of the municipal advice offices and the opportunities presented by the growth of IT for spreading civic information.
Several of the participants underlined the important role played by the public libraries in spreading the possibilities offered by IT to a broader public. Björn-Axel Johansson made a historical comparison: libraries of today have been given the task they had at the beginning of the century, namely to supply that which people cannot afford to acquire themselves. Then it was books, now it is computers connected to Internet, and access to information via databases and CD-ROMs.
Will copyright legislation change in pace with the growth of the new media and, if so, what will be the consequences for the accessibility of culture via the digital media? Several of those present expressed their concern that the libraries might incur increased costs in order to acquire the right to pass on material which has been published digitally. Henry Olsson, expert on copyright matters at the Ministry of Justice, outlined copyright legislation and its significance for electronic publishing. He said that copyright legislation must strike a balance between access to the material and protecting the originator of the work.
Marita Jonsson, who was then manager of the Sesame project, discussed one of the biggest problems for the museums, namely the lack of money. 'Museum Collections, Open Sesame!´is a project which aims to help develop the work of the museums in conserving their collections and making them available to a wider public. Parliament has invested SEK 235 million in the project, which is to end in December 1998. An important element in making the collections accessible is the creation of a nationally distributed database through which the public can retrieve information about museum objects. The problem is that the money cannot be used for the acquisition of technical equipment. Marita Jonsson said that someone must accept overall economic responsibility for the digitalization of museum collections.
The question of how digitalization of the institutions' collections is to be financed triggered off a lively discussion. Museums are among the institutions that have difficulty acquiring the necessary technical equipment, since their economic resources are steadily dwindling. Funds and foundations are reluctant to grant resources for technical equipment. The unanswered question is who, then, is to pay. Despite this, most of those present were not prepared to charge the user in order to finance investment in equipment, etc. If the material has a fee attached, then accessibility diminishes.
The overall impression from the workshop was that the cultural institutions are very interested in making their collections available in digital form, but that many problems remain to be solved, not least economic problems.
After the first workshop, the Committee came to the conclusion that there were several questions about the role of museums in a future cultural network that needed to be discussed further. What are the advantages and disadvantages of digital meeting-places, and what strategies ought the museums to follow when using such things themselves? These were the initial questions for the second workshop on 29 May 1996. Among the participants at this workshop were a number of people working at libraries and museums, as well as journalists, engineers, researchers, and others.
The first part of the workshop consisted of a series of examples of digital meeting-places and descriptions of how they can be used. This was followed by a discussion. Patric Hadenius, editor for the Workers' Educational Association's digital publishing, began by talking about the person of today and the technology of tomorrow, and emphasized the importance of greater interplay between people and technology. Alexander Rudenstam, Chief Executive of the Digital Lounge (see below), followed by talking about how IT can help create new meeting-places which increase the possibilities for cultural institutions to pass on our cultural heritage to the ordinary citizen. Two distinct advantages are that a digital meeting-place works irrespective of where the participants happen to be physically, and that they can communicate at any time of day that suits them.
Eva Jonsby gave an example of a digital meeting-place for cultural workers,
the Digital Lounge. This is an association which provides a digital network
for people and institutions within culture, the humanities and
Daniel Pargman, doctoral student of Communication Studies at Linköping University, outlined how Multi-User Domains work, and how they can be used as digital meeting-places. Gunilla Lilie Bauer, in charge of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities' First Class server, described SK Direkt, a digital meeting-place run by the municipalities. She pointed out that an organization needs to be well-established before it can create a digital meeting-place. The idea has to have the support of everyone, since everyone is affected by the technology. The internal resources must be capable of dealing with the external demand the technology creates.
Stig Hammarsten, Environmental Director in Gävle, concluded the presentations by outlining how IT can be used in environmental work. He has investigated the matter on behalf of the governmental Environmental Advisory Council, and recommended the setting up of a Swedish environmental network, EnviroNet, on the Internet.
After the presentations of digital meeting-places there followed a discussion about different systems and strategies for establishing digital meeting-places. Participants were more or less agreed that information must be available on the Internet. Several organizations have decided to use the First Class conference system for their internal communications, and the Internet when they want to reach a wider target group.
The second part of the day was opened by Professor Emeritus Per-Uno Ågren of the Department of Museology at Umeå University. He gave a critical resumé of the advantages and disadvantages of IT in the museum world, seen from a historical and other perspectives. "We are probably still a long way from the distributed museum, where the historical pictures, the interpretations of reality that museums present in their exhibitions in a media-specific way, are made available on CD-ROM and on distributive networks." Per-Uno Ågren believes that the museums must develop a professional approach to the new technology in order to use it in a way that inspires confidence and creativity.
Anders Gillner is Programme Manager of the IT Programme at the Foundation for Knowledge and Competence Development. The objective of the Foundation for Knowledge and Competence Development is to help gather new knowledge of IT, which in turn helps bring about greater expertise and economic growth. The Foundation's brief is to help promote the use of IT nationally, to stimulate cooperation between research and businesses, and to develop research at Sweden's institutions of higher education. Anders Gillner posed the rhetorical question: How can the museums motivate the unmotivated to share in our cultural heritage, and to what extent can IT help? He also took up the possibilities for creating a better school and better schooling with the help of IT. IT makes possible the coordination of information resources that are available in different places. Information that is held in museums, reference works, libraries and so on can be linked up, so that the student can gather information from several different sources at once.
Project Manager Tomas Olsson talked about how Göteborg's museums plan to deal with their savings requirements by farming out analog and digital knowledge exchange to external agents. There followed an open discussion on, among other things, the opportunities for changing the nature of museum activities, and the role the new digital media can play in such a transformation. In Göteborg, economic reality has created a situation in which it has been necessary to discuss radical change. Cary Karp of the Museum of Natural History underlined the importance in straitened times of identifying and safeguarding the core activity.
Anders Gillner stressed that we have a responsibility to ensure that our culture gets onto the network: "Shall we modify our culture in accordance with the impulses that reach us from outside, or shall we allow ourselves to be swallowed up by the 500 digital TV channels that broadcast Dallas 24 hours a day?" he asked. "If we want a culture of our own, with which we feel at home, then we must ensure that that culture is present on the network."
of Skaraborg County Museum spoke about how important it is to digitalize
the enormous amount of visual material held by the museums. If this material
is made available it will revolutionize research in this country, she
said. A ten-year-old child today can access information that previously
took months for an experienced researcher
Several of those present also took up the possibility of museums earning money from selling pictures. But one condition is, of course, that there is a demand for the material they produce. Christer Larsson of Insam, a cooperative organization for promoting and coordinating the use of IT at Swedish museums, said that a picture is rarely asked for twice, and selection must be made with care if the museums are to begin scanning in high-definition images for sale. Furthermore, there needs to be discussion on whether it is right to charge a fee for things that have already been paid for from taxes. Copyright laws must also be respected.
The workshop continued with a technical demonstration by Jorge de Sousa Pires, Research and Education Manager at Apple Computer Europe, and a talk by Lena Ek, Local Government Commissioner from Västervik, about IT's importance for a small municipality with limited resources. The day ended with a discussion on whether IT can contribute to greater democracy and whether it is reasonable to level a charge for information presented on the network. Stefan Zetterström, in charge of IT at the City Library/Greenhouse in Helsingborg, said that public information that has already been financed and which authorities and administrations provide for the public should naturally be free of charge. However, compilations, such as a CD-ROM produced by a museum, could be subject to a fee.
What traps does CultureNet Sweden need to avoid when the recommendation for a Swedish digital network is being considered? This was the basic question posed by the Committee when it issued an invitation to a critical discussion on 5 June 1996.
Those taking part were a mixture of journalists specializing in culture and IT, artists, writers, and other independent producers of culture, as well as representatives from the state and municipal sectors: chief librarians, a head of cultural affairs, and researchers from a number of universities.
A major question at the third workshop was how to prevent the emergence of first- and second-class IT citizens. Special emphasis was placed on showing how to reach groups at risk of ending up as second-class citizens: the functionally disabled, immigrants, women and independent producers of culture who are outside the public cultural institutions.
Lars Ilshammar, doctoral student of history at the University College of Örebro and a journalist specializing in IT, began by speaking about the development of democracy in the IT society under the heading 'The citizen in cyberspace IT and the democracy that can't catch up´. He believes that there is a conflict between the rapid development of information technology and our necessarily slow-moving democratic processes. Political decisions need to be made in good time; there must be room for discussion and reflection, to test different alternatives.
IT can be a liberating democratic opportunity, but it is embedded in old political and economic power structures. If politics abandons its old task of guaranteeing a modern infrastructure for all, irrespective of where they live, we can be assured that the liberating opportunity will be controlled by the wallet, Lars Ilshammar believes. Then we might as well throw our dreams of direct democracy through IT in the waste-bin.
Author and reviewer Ana Valdés looked at IT from a woman's perspective. She believes that women have a different attitude towards computers than men and are "pragmatic surfers" on the Internet. Only three years ago women were practically non-existent on the Internet. Today they have firmly embraced it, and in the USA a third of users are women. Ana Valdés hoped that the network will develop into a meeting-place for people from different backgrounds. Culture on the Internet should be free, she said. We pay our taxes in order to have access to basic services, and culture is such a basic service, just as much as water, electricity and roads.
Hirschfeldt is Executive Director of the Swedish Library for Talking Books
and Braille, a special library for functionally disabled people. She spoke
about the importance of the functionally disabled having access to culture
in computerized form. "Lack of imagination is the most common functional
disability," she said. Each cultural
The Kurdic writer Mehmed Uzun rounded off the morning session by talking about the right of immigrants to retain their culture, and emphasized that their cultural heritage should also be given space on a Swedish cultural network. Modern Sweden includes Greek, Persian, Kurdic and Latin-American elements, a by no means unique situation from a global perspective. It is important to immigrant groups that they retain their special characteristics and traditions, their ways of thinking and communicating. It also enriches Swedish culture. Otherwise we run the risk of creating standard people with a standard language, a standard way of living and a standard society. Such a development can lead to a totalitarian way of thinking. Refugee groups live in isolation both from the Swedish community and from each other, Mehmed Uzun said, and stressed how important it is to build bridges between these isolated groups and the wider community.
Per Halberg is Head of the Database Division at the Swedish Public Library Service, a company selling and developing information services and products in the field of media and information. He took up the question of charges from the libraries' point of view. The libraries have carried out studies which show that most information that is relevant to libraries and subject-specific must be paid for. The contribution society makes is that local authorities, for example public libraries, pay for information and make it freely available. In order to achieve equality in the acquisition of information, someone has to pay at an intermediate stage. The state cannot guarantee free access simply through assuming control of the network and databases. There must be cooperation between a state-owned agency that negotiates with the owners of the databases and other conveyors of information. The traditional idea of a library can also work for a cultural network, he said.
The greater part of the afternoon was taken up with a discussion of the opportunities for culture on the Internet. Writer Maria Gummesson had sent a questionnaire to her writer colleagues about their view of the Internet. She warned them against allowing commercial interests to take control of the network. Public service IT must continue to be an option she said, and several others agreed with her. Many young writers are IT disadvantaged, but they need it. IT is an excellent tool for creative people, not least writers, who often work in extremely isolated conditions but nevertheless have an enormous need to be able to gather and check facts. They need CultureNet Sweden as a publication forum and general meeting-place, said Maria Gummesson.
Who controls and constructs the IT routes will have enormous consequences for small, non-commercial, non-profit-making producers of culture who want to make use of the network via CultureNet Sweden or in other ways. This is the central issue, according to Maria Gummesson. It calls for a future IT distribution that easily, quickly and cheaply reaches into every home, just as television, radio and the telephone do today, where part of the route is reserved for that which is not mass consumption oriented.
The organization of CultureNet Sweden was also discussed. Several participants argued in favour of the setting up of an editorial office to be responsible for coordinating and supporting those joining the network. Two or three of the artists present objected that the interesting art on the Internet today is created without the support of institutions and companies, and they therefore suggested a cultural network model that simply consists of an efficient search engine. An editorial body on the cultural network risks becoming a censoring group, with its members fifteen to twenty years older than the young producers of culture who really need the cultural network. In addition, Mats Hjelm, artist and teacher at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm, feared that the editorial group would probably invest in expensive, complicated projects which are still not seen by very many.
Mikael Böök, Project Manager of the Finnish Internet project Katto-Meny, does not believe that there will be a cultural network until artists and writers get together and create it themselves. It is necessary to arouse greater interest among the actual producers of culture and art. Much of the interest can arise from the fact that new contact interfaces are created. A cultural network can help bring into being a new, democratic forum for culture.
Several participants took up the importance of children learning to handle the new media while still at school, an effective way of preventing an uneven distribution of knowledge.
Professor Åke E Andersson, head of the Institute for Futures Studies, gave the last presentation of the day, on 'IT and the cognitive revolution´. Development is towards an ever-increasing proportion of the employed sector of the population working with the production information and therefore it is important that schools and the rest of society as a whole is prepared for such a change. IT will not replace anything, but the new technology will change our way of formulating and solving problems, in Prof. Andersson's opinion.
To round off the day, and to illustrate how new technology can be used to create art, Anna Langendorf showed three poetry videos, where text was complemented by evocative images and music. She is a graphic designer, trained at the University College of Arts, Craft and Design, where courses include textiles, ceramics, photography, metal-working, graphic design and industrial design.
Technical requirements for a cultural network
What technical solutions are necessary if a Swedish cultural network is to reach as many people as possible? That was the question to be discussed when the Committee held its fourth workshop on 9 October 1996. Participants included people with responsibility for IT at museums, archives, theatres and other cultural institutions, information consultants, librarians and representatives of other network projects.
IT writer Christer Sturmark opened with a first-hand account of the deve-lopment of IT. At first it was steered by technology, but now the driving force is the will to communicate. The technical solutions chosen for a cultural network should naturally be determined by the functions it needs to have.
Participants agreed that the cultural network should be part of the Internet: many cultural institutions already have homepages; and Internet reaches many users and is relatively easy to use. Some people said that CD-ROMs containing part of the cultural network's content could be a suitable complement during a transition period, so that users with slow-working connections to the network could enjoy the items requiring more capacity.
Lars Ilshammar of the University College of Örebro found supporters when he said that it is not necessary to build the technically perfect solution right from the start. It is enough to create a working solution, so that the cultural network can get started.
Hans Wallberg, Manager of SUNET, and one of the Committee's experts, was one of several who warned against creating special technical solutions, and said that greater flexibility is achieved by using widely available technology.
Pär Olsson, a student at the Department of Computing Science at Umeå University who was engaged by the Committee to make technical recommendations, placed particular emphasis on the need for the cultural network to ensure that participants make their documents retrievable through the use of metainformation. In this way the cultural network could officer unique search facilities. Erik Geijer, a journalist on the computer magazine Computer Sweden, recommended using free text search and constructing a catalogue structure.
There should also be quality guarantees of the content. One suggestion was to have a special cultural network symbol that could be used if certain quality criteria were fulfilled.
Göran Kristiansson of the National Archives described the current cooperation between archive institutions, libraries and museums over standards and structures for records management.
The responsibilities of a possible editorial office were discussed in the afternoon. A group of participants said that a cultural network should function as a Web hotel (i e rent out or lend space on a host computer) for smaller producers of culture, while another group saw that as too great a task. Some suggested that the cultural network's editorial office should be able to help participants with technical and other questions.
issue is whether the infrastructure for IT will be built up so that the
majority of the people of Sweden
Hans Carlsson from the Stockholm cable company STOKAB talked about the expansion of the cable network in Stockholm which will enable both businesses and private individuals to connect up to the Internet much more quickly.
Bi Puranen asked whether the new broad band network will also reach users in rural areas. Several participants were sceptical and said that the companies were not interested in expanding the networks in rural areas, since it was not economically profitable. Others were more positive and thought that the development in satellite communication and mobile telephony could also benefit rural areas.
Organizing and financing a Swedish cultural network
Is a digital cultural network just a hobby or is it in the national interest? That was one of the questions that started off the fifth workshop on 11 November 1996, at which possible organizational and financing forms were discussed. Participants at the fifth workshop came largely from public authorities in the cultural sphere, such as the Central Board of National Antiquities, and the National Archives; ministries that deal with IT issues, i e the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Ministry of Transport and Communication; and the relevant public authorities, such as the National Council for Cultural Affairs, the National Agency for Higher Education, and the National Agency for Education. The morning's discussion focused on whether it is the responsibility of the state to create a CultureNet Sweden.
Göran Löfdahl, state secretary at the Ministry of Education and Science, said that the issue is basic to the choice of organizational form. He emphasized the enormous benefit to society of a Swedish cultural network. A combination of higher education in the arts and engineering expertise is necessary if IT is to develop in a satisfactory way. Sweden represents a small linguistic region with a small market, but has a need for good quality products. In other words, said Göran Löfdahl, it is the responsibility of the state to support and maintain variety and quality.
Dan Brändström is the Managing Director of the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, an independent foundation whose annual profits are used to promote scientific research. He suggested the establishing for a limited period of a host organization for the cultural network, which will allow different interest groups, such as the state, public authorities, representatives of the research community and private producers of culture, to have a say. The suggestion was received positively by the participants, among them Jonas Anderson, Managing Director of the Foundation Culture of the Future, Keith Wijkander, Deputy General Director at the Central Board of National Antiquities, and Staffan Ros, Principal Administrative Officer at the National Council for Cultural Affairs (which has overall responsibility for developing government cultural policy and allocating government resources within its immediate sphere of responsibility).
An interim organization can be necessary in order to begin quality-raising measures and to keep the idea of a cultural network alive while the democratic process takes its course and the Committee's recommendations are being considered. In addition, it is one way of testing the idea of a cultural network in a full-scale version, where the benefit to society and the economy is spelt out and the needs of Sweden's cultural world steer developments. This, combined with the users' actual use of the cultural network will then, in the long term, decide whether or not a public authority should be created.
Director at the Ministry of Education and Science, talked about some of
the Ministry's IT projects,
All government-financed research will also be required to place IT-based information on the Internet. The research information shall be directed at the general public and schools, not other researchers.
The Swedish environmental network, EnviroNet, was presented by Stig Hammarsten as one possible organizational model. In this case it has been decided to create a provisional organization under an existing authority, namely the Environmental Protection Agency. The EnviroNet is an independent project in the first 18-month period, ending in March 1998, with its own board appointed by the Agency. At the end of that period a permanent organization will be proposed by the board.
Several participants, including Keith Wijkander and Karin Englund from the Central Board of National Antiquities, pointed out that not only the cultural network but also other networks are under construction, and that it is important that they be linked together, thus creating the possibility of searching the different networks simultaneously. They warned of the risks of choosing too small a definition of culture. Not all the databases that the Central Board of National Antiquities have access to began as cultural databases but societal, used for cultural purposes. The information in question is just as interesting to those working with environmental protection, research and the cultural environment, as to the general public. In reality, there are four or five different networks that ought to be set up. The idea of a CultureNet Sweden should be seen as a subset in relation to other networks, and it must be possible to move between the different networks, e g from the EnviroNet to the CultureNet. Otherwise the field of activity will be too narrow, not least with respect to the cultural heritage. A narrow definition of culture does not work.
Many of the participants took up the importance of continuing financing in order to prevent the cultural network project from being too short-term. It is easy to motivate enthusiasts if you put a bag of money in their hands, said Lars Ilshammar from the University College of Örebro. But the project can just as easily turn out to be a burden when the money runs out. Several networks are being constructed more or less simultaneously and if the projects could be coordinated at this stage, then the money would last longer. It would also be a good idea if the different networks could agree on a financing policy, so that users know what costs to expect.
Staffan Ros of the National Council for Cultural Affairs spoke among other things about whether or not withdrawals from the databases which will be connected to the cultural network should be paid for by the user. In his opinion, activities on a cultural network do not differ significantly from other cultural activity, and prices must be set according to the purpose of the activities of the institution in question.
Carin Adlén of the Swedish Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts talked about cultural sponsorship in Sweden. The Association encourages cooperation between the cultural and the business worlds. A third of its members represent cultural institutions and the rest business and enterprise. The trend is towards a number of long-term agreements between cultural institutions and sponsors, and towards joint sponsorship by smaller companies. Greater cooperation gives the institutions access to the companies' expertise in such areas as management, computer skills, technology, economics and marketing.
fears in the cultural sector that public funding will be reduced in proportion
to the increase in sponsorship. Taxation can also be a problem. Stockholm
County Tax Authority, for example, has refused to allow companies to make
deductions for cultural sponsorship. The tax officers, who only have experience
of sports sponsorship, lack the relevant knowledge and experience. Sponsorship
is a business arrangement, not a form of charity. Under the Swedish Companies
Act and the Articles of Association, a company's contribution shall be
justified by a return that is in reasonable proportion to the contribution.
The purpose and objectives should be, for example, to reach new target
groups and to
Gun Magnusson from Copyswede, a non-profit association for the Swedish authors'and performers' societies and unions, concerned with safeguarding copyright in the new media, wanted to put the issue of copyright into perspective. She said that it is often seen as a problem, but it is usually economic issues that lie behind it. If you use material that is protected by copyright, you must be prepared to sign agreements and follow procedures. The payment system that emerges will depend on the way the material is to be used, the size of the intended audience, and so on. The basics for drawing up such agreements already exist, as do different payment systems. Internationally, the Nordic countries are pioneers in copyright protection which, in principle, covers all the different uses that can arise in a digitalized world. This is not the case in every country, nor in international conventions. It is, therefore, in Sweden's interest to fill any loopholes there may be in the protection.
The Committee's secretaries made study trips to see and learn how other countries have solved the problems of financing and organization in constructing their cultural networks. They described cultural networks and IT strategies for the cultural sphere in France, Great Britain and Canada.
The day ended with Hans Rydén of the Royal Opera House in Stockholm demonstrating how its homepage could look in the very near future.
©2010 Bi Puranen