Finland/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.3 Cultural policy objectives

According to the Ministry of Education and Culture (www.minedu.fi/en), the objectives of cultural policy in Finland relate to creativity, cultural diversity and equity.

Thus, Finnish cultural policy aims:

  • to provide favourable conditions for the work of artists, other creative workers and cultural and art institutions;
  • to promote the preservation and development of cultural heritage and cultural environments;
  • to enhance equal access to, accessibility of and diverse use of culture;
  • to boost production, employment and entrepreneurship in the cultural sector;
  • to reinforce the cultural foundation of society.

The affirmation of national identity was originally the main cornerstone of the Finnish cultural policy. Promotion of artistic creativity has been the second prime objective of Finnish cultural policy. This has traditionally been reflected in the endeavour of the state to take care of its artists and to improve their economic position through systems of state arts grants and pensions.

According to the Ministry, cultural policy is a significant factor in the implementation of welfare, regional and innovation policies. Following international examples, the Finnish government has, since early 2000s, started to emphasise creativity and innovation and their contribution to economic growth. The first planning effort in this area was the drafting of a national creativity strategy prepared by three task forces representing a wide spectre of civil servants from different ministries, universities and art schools, artists and representatives of the business sector in 2006. In 2007, the Ministry of Education and Culture started an extensive six year development programme for enhancing the growth and internationalisation of the Finnish creative industries and promoting entrepreneurship within the framework of the EU Structural Fund programmes for the years 2007-2013. During the programme period 2014-2020 cultural projects will be financed by the Sustainable growth and jobs 2014 – 2020 –programme. There is two national development actions are called Creative Skills and Inclusive Skills. The funding for the programmes is 11 million euros per action (for information on the current Social Fund programme, see also chapter 4.2.3 and chapter 8.1).    

The shared responsibility of the state and the municipalities in providing, financing and maintaining a regionally comprehensive system of cultural services clearly shows an effort to expand participation in cultural life and access to culture. The adoption of the arm's length approach in art policies and in the use of expertise and the very fact that the municipalities have the prime role in providing these services are an indication of decentralisation – both horizontal and vertical.

Protection of minorities including the Swedish-speaking Finns, the Sami and the Roma can be seen as an aspiration for promoting cultural diversity. The decisions granting the immigrants and refugees basically the same social and economic rights as Finnish citizens reflect both equality policies and the will to increase cultural diversity. The more abstract principles, promotion of human rights and cultural rights, reflected in the new spirit of the Finnish Constitution and the ratification of all relevant international conventions and agreements can be seen as the moral basis of these more practical legal endeavours.

The above list of objectives correspond well to those used as the test criteria in the Council of Europe's review programme of national cultural policies. On the other hand, the ideas that the arts and culture should serve economic growth, increase exports and employment and function as a positive factor in regional and local development and social cohesion have become increasingly popular in Finland. The combining of the traditional objectives with these new economically oriented objectives were reflected in the 2015 strategy of the Ministry of Education and Culture where the following strategic "key functions" were listed:

  • safeguarding equal access to education and culture;
  • promoting intellectual growth and learning;
  • enhancing opportunities for sharing and participation;
  • providing resources for improving the cultural and economic competitive capacity of the Finnish society;
  • opening up new channels in order to diversify the Finnish impact in the international community; and
  • improving effectiveness in the cultural sector.

The latest 2020 strategy of the Ministry of Education and Culture focuses even more on the competitive edge of the Finnish economy and culture. The vision is to place Finland among the top countries in the world in intellectual competence, sharing and creativity by 2020. The Ministry must empower itself for this purpose and implement the following four programmes:

1. The power of cultural competence

  • increase understanding and promotion of new contents and structures of cultural competences.

2. Competetive edge

  • identify factors that shape Finland's competitive edge;
  • using the Ministry's assets to guide the industrial and occupational transformations; and
  • understand and guide education and culture as commercial activities.

3. Prospering regions and cultural and economic environments

  • developing new governance and partnership models for enhancing regional vitality and controlling related risks; and
  • introducing new service production models developing cultural and economic environments.

4. Sharing and sense of community

  • identifying how a new sense of community is bound to shape the Ministry's activities and especially its governance functions, which pre-suppose strengthening the sense of institutional community;
  • enhancing active participation of cultural and linguistic minorities; and
  • establishing a project for hindering alienation.

The Ministry of Education and Culture Strategy for Cultural Policy will be updated in 2016, to be extended into year 2025. A draft version of the new strategy was published in autumn 2016 and the final strategy document will be published in 2017. The strategy will reflect on cultural policy from the viewpoint of uncertainty in the development of the economy, political power, in climate issues and human values; the polarisation of social life; increasing immigration and diversity as “the new normal”; and the role of ICT in economic and social development. Culture will be in the focus, but from a multidimensional point of view. See also chapter 4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities.


Chapter published: 24-04-2017


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