Cuts in arts and culture funding are short-sighted

The Ministry of Education and Culture has published the funding decisions for arts and culture organisations for this year. The general subsidy for Frame was cut by €38 000, and a further €10 000 was cut from the grants awarded by Frame. The cut is around 5%. In total, the operating grants for the Art Information Centres were cut by a total of €159 000.

Also other visual arts organisations, such as Artists’ Association of Finland, AV-arkki and Helsinki Kunsthalle, faced cuts in their funding. In addition, funding for the Finnish Cultural Institutes, key organisations supporting Finnish arts internationally, decreased. Altogether a cut of €8 million is directed at arts and culture sector this year. It includes the cut of €1.3 million into the subsidies distributed by the Arts Promotion Centre, which affects severely the independent arts sector.

“In our case, the cuts affect directly the international activities and exports of the arts. They contradict the fact that the government programme includes a clause on improving the conditions for strengthening the international operations of Finnish art and the role of culture in the country brand. Short-sighted and illogical decision-making is frustrating for the sector,” says Raija Koli, Director of Frame.

The funding situation is likely to become even more difficult in the coming years. The Ministry of Finance recently proposed new savings of €4.3 million for culture and the arts next year, of which €1 million would be allocated to state subsidies for arts and culture and €3.3 million to state subsidies (VOS system) for performing arts and museums. The government will make decisions on the matter in April.

“We are united in our opposition to any cuts to arts and culture. The sums are small in the state budget, but crucial for cultural operators – and for audiences. Knowing the diverse benefits of arts and culture to individuals, the economy and society, it is impossible to understand the short-sighted justification for cuts. To quote the government’s programme, a diverse and valued arts and cultural life is the pride of a civilised state. These decisions send a message that the value of culture is not understood.”

A cultural policy report, as set out in the government programme, is currently being drafted and is due to be presented to Parliament in the autumn. It will be accompanied by a strategy for the growth of the creative industries. In addition, the Arts Promotion Centre is currently working on a strategy for international activities. Currently, Finland’s cultural funding and the share of the creative industries in Finland’s exports are below the EU average.

Image of Sheung Yiu’s publication ‘Everything is a Projection’, supported by Frame grant. Photo: Evelien Seegers