Swedes—most avid museum goers
Swedish museums are visited frequently. In a new report, the national museums in Sweden are being likened to a train engine within the cultural sector. This is hardly surprising since Swedes are the most avid museum goers in Europe. Museums in Sweden have increased their revenue by 20 percent since 2005, according to a new analysis from Riksutställningar (the Swedish Exhibition Agency). Primarily, it is 14 big central museums that attract more and more visitors, and these have increased their sales by nearly 40 percent. In spite of the fact that the number of visitors has gone down somewhat in comparison to the successful year 2011, there’s a steady increasing trend since 2007, which was the year the government removed the free entrance, and the number of visitors plummeted. ”It continues upward, and soon we’re at the same levels as before the free entrance was removed,” says Mats Persson, secretary general in the national association Sveriges museer (Sweden’s museums). Last year, Swedish museums had 17.5 million visits, making Sweden the most museum-frequented country in Europe. A new report from the EU Commission shows that as many as seven out of 10 Swedes have visited a museum in the last year, a sensational number according to Persson. Meanwhile, there are some dark clouds on the horizon. Lately more of the regional and municipal museums are struggling financially. Many are still OK, but since the financial crisis hit Sweden in 2009, there’s been an increasing interest in smaller museums around the country. If this trend persists, there will be closures, according to Riksutställningar. "A museum director I know summed it up as "It’s OK, but not,'” explains Persson. "Even where you have visitors, there’s a financial struggle. Here we can see a marked effect of the crisis; it is worrisome if it’s a continuous trend.”

More money to charities
Seven of the 10 biggest charity organizations in Sweden report that their prognoses point toward more monetary gifts this year, as compared to 2012, according to SR Ekot, after a telephone poll with the charities. The average increase is stated to be 7 percent, and the most funds were collected by Unicef, who thinks they’ll end up with more than 550 million SEK ($85 million) this year. Two of the surveyed organizations, Cancerfonden and Rädda Barnen (the Save the Children Fund), make conservative projections and hope for the same level as last year. The Swedish Red Cross doesn’t want to give a forecast at all.

From Benny with love: money, money, money
ABBA's Benny Andersson continues to support Feministiskt initiativ (Feminist Initiative), a feminist political party in Sweden, led by Gudrun Schyman. Next year, which is election year in Sweden, Andersson will donate 100,000 SEK ($15,000) to the party’s election fund. The money will be used for ballots and campaign work, since the party receives no party support. ”Benny’s contributions have great importance for our work in the coming elections,” says Schyman. ”We are many who no longer want to wait. If we are to have an equal society, free from all kinds of discrimination, then feminists must take (up more) space in politics.” Andersson gave 300 000 SEK ($47,000) to the party before the 2010 election, and during the EU elections in 2009, he donated nearly 800 000 SEK ($124,000).