From Iceland — Iceland's Public Expenditure On Culture Third Highest In Europe

Iceland’s Public Expenditure On Culture Third Highest In Europe

Published August 6, 2020

Poppy Askham
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Iceland’s proportion of total government expenditure that is contributed towards cultural services is the third highest in Europe according to the latest data from Statistics Iceland. 

The Icelandic government spent 2.5% of its total annual expenditure on cultural services in 2018. The only European nations to assign a greater proportion of public funds to cultural services were Estonia (2.8%) and Hungary (2.7%).

The proportion of government expenditure for cultural services has remained relatively stable over the last decade, hovering between 2.2% and 2.6%. The percentage represents both central and municipal government contributions to cultural institutions including museums and theatres. Municipal authorities devote a a higher percentage of their budget to culture than the central government – municipal governments spent 4.7% of their funds on culture whereas central government spent just 1.5%.

In 2018, 0.5% of government expenditure was spent on publishing and broadcasting services. This is above the EU average of 0.4% of total spending.

Despite comparably high levels of government funding, many of Iceland’s cultural institutions have been struggling financially in recent months due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government introduced several aid packages for workers in creative industries earlier in the year, including 250 million ISK to supplement wages. But representatives from bodies offering cultural services have raised concerns about the long-term impact of the pandemic for creative industries.

As reported, organisations from the Icelandic music industry have raised concerns about insufficient economic support from the government and gaps in existing provision.

The proportion of government expenditure on cultural services for the first quarters of this year have not yet been published.

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