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Rapid emergency support for sport and culture, but lack of efficacy and transparency

The economic conditions for sport and culture deteriorated sharply during the pandemic. The audit carried out by the Swedish National Audit Office (Swedish NAO) shows that central government emergency support was appropriately designed, but that the urgency led to shortcomings in its efficacy.

Empty grandstand with red and black plastic chairs.

Photo: Roine Magnusson

Sport and culture are two sectors of society whose economic conditions were changed fundamentally by the pandemic. The Government therefore developed emergency support for sport and culture actors.

The Swedish NAO’s audit shows that this support was mainly designed and distributed effectively and efficiently.

“The Government and the organisations that distributed the support acted quickly, but there are lessons to be learned in terms of design and management for future crises,” says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.

The support was developed under strong time pressure, which led to some shortcomings in its distribution. For example, the Swedish Arts Council regularly rejected applications that were not complete — instead of asking applicants to complete the missing information.

The same applied to applications that were addressed to the wrong agency, for example to the Swedish Arts Council instead of the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.

The audit also shows that the Swedish Arts Council, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee and the Swedish Authors’ Fund, as well as the Swedish Sports Federation to some extent, have not given reasons as to why individual applicants were refused support.

“It has been difficult for applicants to understand how the support was designed, how and where they should apply for it and why applications were rejected. A number of people and organisations may therefore have missed out on support to which they were actually entitled,” says Gunnar Myrberg, project leader for the audit.

The lack of reasons for decisions has created additional work for the agencies, as many applicants got in touch with them to find out why they had not been granted support. In 2020, the Swedish Arts Council received almost 87,000 emails and almost 14,000 phone calls to its helpline for emergency support.

The Swedish NAO also notes that a more developed holistic perspective would have been needed in granting the support, designing it more clearly according to the needs of the applicants.

Recommendations in brief

The Swedish NAO recommends that the Government review whether awarding grants in the field of culture can be better coordinated.

It is recommended that the Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Arts Grants Committee ensure that cases are adequately investigated so that all applicants for financial support are given the same opportunity to submit additional information if the application is incomplete.

It is recommended that the Swedish Arts Council, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee and the Swedish Authors’ Fund develop procedures for motivating decisions.

See the report for full recommendations.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

Updated: 09 June 2022

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