Public Art Agency Sweden (former The National Public Art Council Sweden) was founded in 1937 and is responsible to the Ministry of Culture.
The general assignment of Public Art Agency Sweden is to make art a natural and prominent feature in the community. The Council strives to create opportunities for contemporary art to impact on the public environment through projects for artistic embellishment and art collections produced for government authorities.
Since 1937, Public Art Agency Sweden, a government organisatin, has enriched the public domain with art and is Sweden’s largest commissioner of artistic embellishment. The Council commissions some 40 professional artists every year to present drafts and implement art projects. Most of these artists live and work in Sweden, but artists in other countries are also employed, thereby enhancing international contacts in the field.
Public Art Agency Sweden also puts together some 100 art collections annually, for various government organisations in Sweden and abroad. These collections reflect artistic production over the past decades and consist of both newly purchased and older works. In many cases, the artistic diversity of these collections makes them both unique and interesting in an art historical perspective.
In addition, as from 2010, Public Art Agency Sweden has been assigned by the government to collaborate with the Swedish National Heritage Board, Arkitekturmuseet and the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, along with relevant local municipalities and property owners, to distribute funding and implement projects for the artistic embellishment of public spaces not owned by the government. The purpose is to improve the quality of buildings and facilities, taking into consideration various perspectives and needs. Public Art Agency Sweden thereby earmarks funds that were previously reserved for art in non-government environments to enhance the overall design of public spaces, such as infrastructure, schools and housing areas. Special consideration will be given to the perspective of children and teenagers.
Information, education and development in the field of public artistic design and embellishment are used by Public Art Agency Sweden to raise awareness of how art contributes to a good social environment. Public Art Agency Sweden supervises the government organisations’ handling of government-owned art that is not maintained by other government organisations. This supervision activity instructs government organisations on procedures regarding the recording, annual inventory and day-to-day care of public art collections. It also advises property owners and other parties on the care and management of building-related art commissioned by Public Art Agency Sweden.
At Public Art Agency Sweden’s Art Lounge visitors can access material by artists applying to the Council for commissions, and also read the Council’s annual catalogues and other publications. This material is intended primarily for Public Art Agency Sweden’s project managers in their search for artists for public commissions, but other parties looking for artists to execute public art assignments, and the general public, are welcome to study the work submitted by the artists. The Art Lounge also has a programme of activities, including seminars and discussions about art in the public sphere.
In 2010, our educational activities around art have included guided tours of public art, workshops at schools, lectures and artist talks. Seminars focusing on art and the public and art in the public sphere have been co-organised with regional and municipal organisations and other government organisations. Other commissioners of public art have also requested information about the working process at Public Art Agency Sweden, including discussions on art styles and the role of art in public spaces. Art education activities are primarily aimed at young people, but also, for instance, at interested staff in workplaces where a new permanent work of art or an art collection has been installed.
In 2010, workshops were held at Ekeskolan in Örebro for three groups of young adults with impaired vision, and for all pupils at Sameskolan in Karesuando (Year F-5). Guided tours and talks about art collections in workplaces have doubled since 2009 and numbered 35 in 2010.
For the third consecutive year, the KOP (Art and Public) network held an international conference, The Art of Having an Audience, at Moderna Museet in Stockholm on 19 – 21 May.
Public Art Agency’s art online
In 2010, Public Art Agency Sweden published an unprecedented amount of text and images relating to art and art projects on the internet, thanks to the integration of the Council’s internal system and a digitalised image archive. Web services such as Google Translate and Google Maps have continued to be useful in providing cost-effective and efficient web solutions. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are changing but are still relevant channels for the Council in our public outreach.
Images, image archives and copyright
Over the last few years, Public Art Agency Sweden’s visual documentation has developed more towards showing the works of art in their setting, together with the people who frequent it. Our analogue image archive was already digitalised, and in 2010 we made it accessible for internal use. In 2011, parts of the archive will be made available online.
Our portfolio presentations started during the Year of Multiculturalism in 2006, and made it possible for professional artists around Sweden to present their work to the Council’s project managers. The purpose of the Portfolio Project is to broaden the recruitment of artists for commissions from the Council. The purpose is also to achieve greater transparency in the Council’s operations by bringing more artists in contact with the Council. In April 2010, a portfolio presentation for artists was organised jointly with Kalmar Konstmuseum. 205 artists applied, and 95 artists from four counties presented their work. The portfolio presentations have led to a more open contact with artists throughout Sweden. 16 artists received new commissions from the Council thanks to the portfolio presentations, and some 30 works were purchased.