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Agency analysis of the Swedish Arts Grants Committee (2017:2)

The remit of the Swedish Arts Grants Committee is to promote artists' opportunities for developing their artistic skills and to work for artistic development in general, mainly by allocating grants but also by other means. The agency also analyses and spreads information about artists' economic and social conditions. The main target group is professional artists. The nature and the breadth of the Arts Grants Committee's tasks means that it needs to interact with many players, both nationally and internationally.

Tasks and activities have been expanded

In recent years the Arts Grants Committee tasks have increased and its activities are thus on a larger scale. This has resulted in more employees, new target groups, more funds to distribute and more decision-making bodies. With its 28 employees, the Arts Grants Committee is still a comparatively small agency. Despite this fact the overall organisation is complex, with many decision-making bodies and preparatory bodies. The expanded activities have also resulted in its tasks approaching those of other cultural agencies such as the Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy.

The Arts Grants Committee essentially fulfils its commission

Statskontoret considers that the Arts Grants Committee essentially fulfils its commission. The under-represented sex is favoured in grants awarded and the agency reports the regional distribution of its grants. Artists believe that state grants support their international exchange. The quality of funding is to a large extent guaranteed by the salaried members of the Arts Grants Committee's preparation and decision-making bodies. The agency also carries out studies, spreads information about artists' financial and social conditions and runs a website for artists about the structure of tax and social security systems.

Difficult to assess whether resources are used efficiently

Statskontoret considers that it is difficult to assess whether the Arts Grants Committee uses its resources effectively. The Arts Grants Committee makes no overall analysis of cost trends in its activities in its annual report, where costs are expressed in relation to how the agency's performance has developed.

The government gives the Arts Grants Committee a relatively large mandate

Through its results and financial governance, the government gives the Arts Grants Committee a relatively broad mandate to make autonomous decisions on how its activities are implemented and developed and the amount of funds used for its activities. At the same time, the government has significant influence on some parts of the organisation: for example, the government decides on the number and composition of specific decision-making bodies. To some extent this reduces the influence of the Arts Grants Committee on its organization and the efficiency with which it carries out its activities.

More challenges in the future

The Arts Grants Committee has recently identified several future developmental needs and is currently implementing changes in its organisation as well as improving the quality of its internal management and control. New managers started work relatively recently. At the same time the mandate of the current agency manager (the director) expires on 1 June 2017. With this background, Statskontoret, sees several challenges for the Arts Grants Committee in the future. We believe that some of these can be managed internally, while others require action by the government.

Give the new agency director a good start

Leadership in the agency has largely been centred around the director and a deputy director. Statskontoret believes it is important that the board of the Arts Grants Committee and the director make thorough plans for handing over the reins to the new director. It is important that the new director has a good start and that any loss of competence in the organisation is minimised. Up-to-date documentation of development work in progress is also needed, among other things.

Complete work with organisational changes and adapt if necessary

Firstly, Statskontoret sees the benefits of the organisational changes that the Arts Grants Committee is currently implementing. The agency has introduced new managerial positions and has developed supplementary internal rules of procedure that clarify the areas of responsibility for each manager. However, we would like to emphasise the importance of the Arts Grants Committee completing the work of delegating and further clarifying the distribution of responsibilities within the agency, at the same time as being on the alert to any need for adjustments.

Safeguard internal management and control

Statskontoret considers that ongoing work by the Arts Grants Committee to consolidate internal management and control is well justified, but it is too early to assess the results of their actions. The agency has reviewed its working practices, produced central steering documents and strengthened its administrative support. Unfortunately, work on linking the financial system with the digital case management system for scholarships and grant applications has not been completed as planned. The Arts Grants Committee has not conducted a risk and vulnerability analysis that covers all the agency's activities. Statskontoret therefore assesses that the board of the Arts Grants Committee needs to continue this work and pay particular attention to matters relating to its internal control, functioning and needs of development.

Involve employees in development work

Statskontoret considers that the Arts Grants Committee should create forms of work that better utilise employees' skills, experience and involvement in current operations as well as long-term development work. Good interaction between management and employees is important, not least during this period of ongoing changes to the organisation and its working methods.

Make an overall analysis of grants to artists

Statskontoret believes that the Arts Grants Committee should consider making an overall analysis of the results of the agency's financial support to artists. A deeper and more comprehensive analysis would provide a better basis on which to plan future priorities between different types of measures. The analysis should also give the government a better picture of the agency's results. Statskontoret judges that such an analysis could well be carried out in collaboration with the investigation that is currently reviewing governmental actions for professional artists.

Transfer the mandate for appointing members to the Arts Grants Committee

Statskontoret believes that the government should consider transferring responsibility to the board of the Arts Grants Committee to appoint members of the two decision-making bodies: Bildkonstnärsfonden and Kulturbryggan. We judge that it would clarify the control chain and division of responsibilities between the government and the Arts Grants Committee, and between the board and the two decision-making bodies. The quality of the Arts Grants Committee's funding is based on suitably qualified people being involved in the preparation and decision-making processes. This means that the agency itself has a great interest in having competent members of its decision-making bodies.

Increase transparency in overall management costs

The Arts Grants Committee's structure of grants is not transparent with regard to how much the agency may use from its administration grant and how much it actually uses. Statskontoret therefore considers that the government should impose requirements on the Arts Grants Committee to report its operating costs in more detail. The government should also consider stating a maximum amount per budget item that can be used to cover the costs for the agency's administration.