What arts initiatives do you have at Swedish Match?
We have an art collection, which is mostly internal for employees, and a museum that is open to the general public. The collection is representative of the company from 1915 to today, and we’re now particularly looking for female artists. We are focused on emphasising our Swedish cultural heritage, so there’s a lot of classical works to connect us with our past.
How do employees react to the collection?
People get emotionally attached to paintings. It makes employees more inspired being surrounded by art. They feel proud of it and it also helps attract new, talented candidates. I work on the strategy for the collection, what to buy and sell. If all the artwork disappeared everyone would be upset.
Why is there a collection in the first place?
Originally it was a tobacco monopoly. There were no shareholders, so money was available to invest in art. In the early 1900s many similar sized companies invested money to demonstrate status but now people are not so easily deceived that a company’s success is linked to their art collection. It has changed to keeping employees happy, and demonstrating commitment to high quality products.
Is there any interest in the collection from the general public?
Guided tours once a month at our head office, Tändstickspalatset. It was built from 1926 – 1928 by the architect Ivar Tengbom and commissioned by the former chief executive Ivar Kreuger. It’s fully booked 6 months to a year in advance. We’re planning more guided tours for employees.
Why is the chief arts officer campaign interesting for you?
Most old companies have a collection and they really need someone professional to manage it. When I started here I thought there would be some kind of network so I could find other people doing similar things to me in other companies, but I couldn’t find anyone! It’s great this will help build this kind of group.