Independence and the arms-length principle

In order to ensure freedom of expression in art and culture, grants to artists are given with no political strings attached and, of course, criticism of “the establishment” is permissible. Therefore, independence and the arms-length principle are fundamentals of Danish cultural policy.

The arms-length principle implies that neither politicians nor the Ministry of Culture are involved in concrete subsidy allocation or act as arbiters of taste. The ministry’s role is first and foremost to act as architect of the framework for an overarching cultural policy and, in collaboration with the Parliament, to set the objectives and to create the structures that form the basis for cultural policy in Denmark. Thus, neither politicians nor civil servants but independent peer groups grant money to the arts. The Ministry of Culture has councils for art, theatre, music and literature and they are currently being merged into a new institution called the Arts Council to promote cooperation and innovation. Likewise, public grants do not affect the independence of, for instance, sports associations or amateur activities.