- Stockholm is one of the five fastest growing cities in Europe. Stockholm has a growing gaming and music sector, it is second only to the United States in the number of unicorn companies (start-up companies with $1 billion turnover) per capita.
- Over 30% of its residents come from a foreign background. Stockholm has introduced its Vision 2040 programme that aims to provide democratic access to high quality culture, with a focus on young people and children.
- Stockholm has introduced new housing development schemes that combat growth challenges and ensure the demand for new housing will be met in an ethical and culturally sustainable way.
City data: Key facts
- Geographical area: 6,526 sq. km
- Total population: 2,308,143
- GDP (PPP) million: US$ 155,526
Stockholm covers nearly 188 square kilometers across 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. The city is constantly marrying old and new – renowned both for its historic cobblestone streets and as the site of the annual Nobel Prize awards as well as for its contemporary design, tech, and gaming communities. Stockholm hosts 89 museums, 423 libraries, 80 cultural and community centers, and 93 spaces for theatrical performances.
The city has become one of the most successful startup and cultural entrepreneurship hubs in Europe – home to Spotify, Skype, Klarna, and gaming company King and Stockholm has the most ‘unicorn’ tech companies per capita in the world after Silicon Valley.
Stockholm is experiencing a period of unprecedented growth with the City’s population expected to reach 1.2 million residents by 2040. Stockholm is experiencing a wave of major new district-wide urban redevelopment efforts, with cultural institutions and infrastructure acting as a focal point for many mixed-use projects. This includes the relocation of both Stockholm University of the Arts to Slakthusområdet, (the City’s former meatpacking district) and the Museum of Photography as part of the transformation of Slussen into a pedestrian-oriented hub.
But much of Stockholm’s growth is uneven and inequitable –the city is challenged by widening social inequality and housing segregation. Stockholm released a new City Plan to address these concerns and to guide the city’s urban development over the next 25 years. The plan is framed around four areas: a growing city, a cohesive city, good public spaces, a climate smart and resilient city. The plan also builds on Stockholm’s Vision 2040 plan for hyperlocal development inspired by the 15-minute city, where every resident has access to quality schools, transport, public and greenspace near where they live.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on Stockholm’s creative and tourism economies. Many people and organisations in the city’s cultural sector have faced significant income loss and project ongoing challenges in securing audiences, income, and operating grants. Many cultural workers have left their professions, and recent graduates and young and emerging creatives are facing limited opportunities to establish themselves in the cultural labour market.
However, the pandemic also highlighted the importance of culture to people’s quality of life, which is reflected in the City’s longstanding and continued support for the cultural sector. In 2020 Stockholm released its first nightlife strategy to make it easier for performance venues, nightclubs and cultural and event organisers to operate. The strategy proposes streamlining permitting, policy to support the opening of new spaces, and finding ways to enable nightlife activity on City-owned land.
Stockholm has also been working to make culture a more cross-cutting policy focus across City departments. The City of Stockholm’s Cultural Strategic Programme, rolled out in 2021, encourages the City’s departments to cooperate and take joint responsibility for the development of cultural infrastructure and activities and to expand cultural access to underserved communities including the elderly and disabled. The programme is a collaboration between the Stockholm City and Regional Councils, Cultural Affairs Committee, the City departments of Culture, Development, and Planning, and Stockholm’s Business Region.
In Spring of 2021 the City released Nystartsrapporten (A Restart for Culture) to support Stockholm’s cultural recovery during and after the pandemic. The report outlines 21 policy proposals to promote a sustainable and long-term future for culture in Stockholm, with special consideration to freelance and self-employed cultural workers. These policy areas include an expansion of the City’s culture budget, establishing a new steering group to more directly connect cultural sector stakeholders with policymakers, supporting the development of more cultural and community centers throughout the city, acknowledging the mental health impacts of the pandemic on cultural workers, and increasing tax incentives for private property owners.
As the city looks ahead, understanding and adapting to new forms of digital culture and consumption will be key, alongside ensuring all members of society – from young to old – are able to access culture in local and shared spaces.