Please briefly present the partner organisation.
The Helsinki Cultural Office is the department of culture in the city of Helsinki.
What are the activities and experience of the organisation in the areas relevant for this application?
We are developing the Helsinki-model for cultural “hors murs” – activities for inhabitants in the outskirts of the city and new funds for cultural operators for such activities and would therefore like to compare and discuss our work with colleagues from other cities with similar issues.
Please give information on the key staff/persons involved in this application and on the competences and previous experience that they will bring to the project.
Nina Gran, Specialist Planner, dep. of Cultural Policies, works with cross-sectorial development work at the Cultural Office.
The Helsinki Model – towards a more equal city
“The Helsinki model – enhancing cultural participation” is a new way of organizing art and culture activities in Helsinki’s suburban areas. The initiative promotes reinforced co-operation within the city administration, among art organizations and institutions, local NGOs and citizens. The three year project aims to create new collaboration models and ways of art organizations to implement different cultural actions in dialogue with the local parties and citizens.
Helsinki is a culturally rich and vibrant capital city. Most of the art institutions and professional artists are based in the Metropolitan region. However, at the same time most of the culture and art organizations mainly locate in the city center. The infrastructure and offering for culture beyond the very center of Helsinki is poor. In this project the aim is to make culture and art available near the people, in different neighborhoods of the city.
The Helsinki City Council has outline as one of the city’s main challenges the equalization of the inhabitants’ welfare differences. Many statistic demonstrate that these differences have increased when comparing different neighborhoods. This challenge is common to each sector and one of the culture department’s tools to strengthen the regional equality by means of culture is the Helsinki cultural model.
Many background surveys have been taken into account when formulating the aims of the Helsinki model. The regular statistics outlined by the Helsinki Urban Facts Office and the studies undertaken by the Arts promotion centre Finland and the Cupore – The Finnish Foundation for Cultural Policy Research have been carefully studied before initiating this pilot model.
The Culture Office outlined in 2013 a study of the geographical distribution of all the grants (approx 17 million euros) given to the arts field yearly in Helsinki. The study demonstrated clearly that the inequality between various districts in relation to arts and culture offerings are drastic. Some neighborhoods were identified which did not have any culture activities or services.
The Helsinki participatory cultural model aims to reinforce the positive profile of suburban areas and the cohesion of communities through increased local participation. The aim is to diversify and create a balance between cultural activities offered in various parts of the city and to ensure that all Helsinki residents have access to culture.
The long term objectives are to increase the social cohesion and the social capital of the citizen’s in the neighborhoods. Trough arts and culture we will promote wellbeing, social inclusion and citizenship. The cultural institutions and organisations are encouraged to step outside their premises in the city centre and to work together with local residents and communities in various districts. The model will strengthen the interaction between art institutions and residents and provide them new content. It also promotes innovative ways of reaching new audiences. Residents and communities are encouraged to take a more active role in the creation of culture contents, instead of being mere spectators.
The aim is to create new models of collaboration and dialogue between local organisations, art institutions, the city departments and the inhabitants. The aim is to make use of the resources of the various stakeholders and to reinforce at the same time the possibilities of local participation and the influence of people in their own neighborhoods.
We have identified four pilot neighborhoods for a period of three years (2016-18) where art outreach activities will be promoted and art will be incorporated more comprehensively into the local, social and cultural development of the area.
Detailed description of the phases and actions
The Helsinki model consists of many activities which are in connection with each other. The Culture office is responsible of the overall coordination and administration of the project.
The art activities in the neighborhoods will be produced by art institutions and organisations. The Helsinki City Library and Cultural Board will fund 12 participatory projects during 2016-18 through grants (approx. 1 130 000 euros). These projects were chosen based on an open call in June 2015. The selection process included hearings in neighborhoods during which the opinions of the inhabitants and the local stakeholders were heard. The selection process underlined the strong dialogue which is the essence of the model.
The art institutions responsible for producing the culture projects represent theatres, museums, dance and contemporary circus companies, music institutions and artists’ associations. The diversity among them is interesting, the actors vary from stable institutions such as the National Theatre to small artistic organisations such as the media association m-cult.
The four regional cultural centres of the city have a crucial role in the model, they are located in the suburb areas of the city, two of them in the chosen pilot areas. The aim of all the regional centres is to open up even more their activities to the local communities and to increase the possibilities of the inhabitants to influence the activities. These centres have been working in the areas since the 90’s and they have built strong local networks and knowhow from the local arts field.
The pilot phase of the Helsinki Model focuses on four different types of area, namely Kaarela, Maunula, Jakomäki and Vuosaari. We have identified and engaged local players, networks and cooperation partners from these pilot districts and opened up the dialogue between them and the art institutions. The role of the culture office is to enable the collaboration and to guide them when necessary.
One important activity is the evaluation of the practice, the research and analyze of it’s impacts and success. We have outlined an evaluation plan for the model with various stages and outcomes.
Specific social and urban context
The pilot phase of the Helsinki Model focuses on four different types of areas, which are located in different parts of the city. These neighborhoods face very different challenges and development needs. However they all share the low rate of culture offerings and infrastructure, and participation to culture services.
For instance, the Vuosaari area has a population of almost 40 000 inhabitants. Vuosaari is a very diverse area with many realities, cultures and challenges. The activities realized in the neighborhood will be targeted especially to young people with the aim to strengthen their feeling of identity, trust, equality and respect for each other and their environment.
The smaller districts of Maunula and Kaarela are communities where the people have become more active and many local participation projects have been initiated. Many urban regeneration projects have also been promoting the positive profile of these area. However, there are many severe socio-economic challenges and feeling of insecurity and loneliness in the mentioned districts. Problems related to violence, and disorder have unfortunately also influenced the image and identities of the areas.
The population segment to which the activities are targeted are very diverse. The main aim is to reach those people who are not active and feel neglected by their communities. Many of the projects realized in the areas will focus on changes related to empowerment, increased participation and engagement. The aim is to reinforce the social cohesion in the community and trough arts and culture strengthen the citizenship of the inhabitants.
In the future, we hope that this model will become a permanent operating model in Helsinki. We hope that during the upcoming three years we will be able to challenge existing structures and create new innovative ways to work locally trough arts and culture. This initiative enables the formulation of new operating models within the city as well as for local organisations and art institutions.
Here is a link to the website of the experience:
Mr Stuba Nikula
City of Helsinki Cultural Office
Telephone: +358 40 555 55 40
Mrs Sara Kuusi
City of Helsinki Cultural Office
Telephone: +358 40 192 3828