Finland/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.3 Status and partnerships of public cultural institutions

Many of the institutions financed by the state and the municipalities are, in their legal form, private companies, foundations or associations and thus we could also speak of private-public partnerships. Even in these cases, funding based on their own earnings (sales of tickets etc.) is rather limited. The ratio of earned income varies between 10% (Radio Symphony Orchestra) and 55% (some private museums). Due to the high level of public subsidies, most of these institutions should be classified as "public", at least according to the criteria defined by the System of National Accounts. Multiple partnerships can be found in capital investments, especially in the construction of buildings. As a case in point we can use the Sibelius-House in Lahti, a city close to Helsinki. The main financiers of the concert hall were the City of Lahti and the state, but the role of the private investors, the wood industry enterprises, was also significant. Wood was used predominantly as the construction material and the firms wanted to open up new areas for the use of Finnish wood. The City of Lahti owns the building, but it is operated as a joint stock company. Similar partnerships have emerged also in the context of EU programmes, financed from the Structural Funds, for example the Sami museum in Lapland and a couple of regional cultural centres.

In order to understand the rather limited number and type of partnerships in financing and organising cultural and artistic activities, we must also have a brief look at private financing.

The main source of private financing of the arts and culture in Finland is the private grant-giving foundations. It has been estimated that Finnish cultural foundations provide 50 million EUR annually to the arts and culture (including heritage and the funding of research in the humanities and social sciences); out of this amount probably 15-20% is given as direct support to the arts (as prizes, grants and project financing). Some surveys on private sponsorship suggest that the annual sponsorship contribution to the arts and culture has declined since the late 1990s and are according to a 2008 survey somewhat below 20 million EUR (see chapter 6.3). This estimate includes also purchases of works of art for the art collections of the companies.

Two problems have brought about some debates and also some attempts at reforms. The first of these is a technical one: how to handle sponsorship money in the accounts of the public institutions. Is it earned income, which might reduce public support, or should it be kept outside the regular public budgeting? The former alternative seems to prevail. The second is a moral issue: if public institutions receive private sponsorship money, what rules must be set to avoid the potential economic linkages between the sponsor and the sponsored, e.g. the informally agreed duty of the latter to purchase facilities from the former over and above the regular tendering procedures. No specific legislation has been considered necessary in this respect, only some outlines for an Ethical Code have been provided by government working groups.

In recent years, increased attention has been paid to the public-private partnerships in the culture industries. The only well-established partnerships of this type can be found in film production where a coalition of three partners, the Finnish Film Foundation (a public foundation financed through the budget of the Ministry of Education and Culture), television companies (the Finnish Broadcasting Company and the commercial television companies) and AVEK, the Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture (financed from collective funds gathered as copyright compensation), co-operate on a tri-partite basis in financing film production. From among these partners, AVEK finances mainly experimental and documentary films and media art.

In general the copyright organisations (see chapter 5.1.7) play an important role in financing the arts and culture. Although most of the copyright compensation goes to individual artists and producers, the collective funds have been a distinct feature of the Finnish system. The financing by AVEK was already referred to; the other copyright organisations also maintain promotion centres such as ESEK, the Finnish Performing Music Promotion Centre and LUSES, the Finnish Music Creation Promotion Centre.

There have been some attempts to encourage the formation of "creative clusters" which would encourage more effective use of artistic creativity by companies. The objective has been to foster entrepreneurship and promote the export of Finnish cultural goods and services. The focus has been, by and large, on design and architecture, the field where creative artistic visions and commercial interests have traditionally met each other.

For the recent efforts of the Ministry of Education and Culture to develop a network-based partnership in promoting the export of the Finnish culture, see  chapter 3.3.

Chapter published: 25-04-2017