3.2 Overall description of the system
Like the overall Finnish political and administrative system, the Finnish cultural policy system is simultaneously highly decentralised and highly centralised. This is due to the fact that the local government system is strong and autonomous. On the other hand, with the advent of the social welfare state, the main burden of maintaining modern public services including cultural services, were shouldered by municipalities; while the state set the legislative frameworks and was legislatively committed to compensate a statutory share of expenditure. In the late 1980s and in the 1990s, this system, which had earlier covered public libraries and adult education, was expanded to include museums, theatres, orchestras and basic (extra-curricular) arts education. As a result of this development, the state is mainly responsible for the arts support systems, national cultural and art institutions, international cultural co-operation and university level cultural and arts education and shares with the municipalities the financial responsibility of maintaining the nation-wide system of performing arts institutions and cultural services.
Municipalities maintain infrastructure for local cultural and arts activities and they also receive central government subsidies for infrastructure investments. As to the cultural policy competence, the state and the municipal sector are formally on an equal footing although the state has a stronger hold of the steering wheel - that is legislation and financing. There is no overall autonomous regional administration, although EU-membership has strengthened the role of the regional councils, which are federations of municipalities.
In the cultural policy decision-making, the final legislative and budgetary powers rest with Parliament; the overall and co-ordinating executive powers of policy initiation, planning and implementation lie with the government (Council of State), and sector policy initiation, planning and implementation powers are the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Municipalities, with their own elected and managerial political and administrative decision-making bodies (see the organigram) provide a counterbalance to these national powers.
In Parliament, the main work in preparation of bills and budget proposals is carried out in parliamentary committees. The Parliamentary Committee of Education and Culture deals with cultural policy issues, but the powerful Committee of Finance checks and sets the financial frames for all budget allocations. After Finland's accession to the European Union, the Grand Committee became an increasingly important body that monitors the relations between national and Union legislation and policies. For that purpose it hears the ministers before and after the Union's Council meetings. This means that the ministers, among them the Minister of Education and Culture, have become responsible to Parliament in a new direct manner.
After its appointment, a new government is obliged by the Constitution to submit its action programme as a formal communication to Parliament for discussion. The programme sets the agenda for the government and it is accompanied by proposals of general and sector development programmes and projects. Culture, youth work and sports, which are considered a joint administrative sector, usually receive a rather short development plan in the programme. In recent years, the government's plans and programmes concerning the overall state support for the municipal sector and third sector institutions are more salient for the arts and culture than the proposed specific policy measures. Art and culture, and youth work and sports, although supported by the same types of state statutory transfer (subsidy) system as other public services, are, however, set apart from other services by their special source of financing. They are financed prominently from profits of the state lottery, football and games pools and the sports betting company (Veikkaus). These profits and their use do not follow the same pattern as the overall financial policy of the central government, because overall public finance fluctuations and gambling interests do not always coincide and, also, the state budget proposal for a given year is made before the actual annual amount of Veikkaus profits is known. Although there are strict legislative rules limiting the use of Veikkaus profits to the arts, youth work, sports and scientific research, the Ministry of Finance and the ruling government have often, irrespectively, tried and succeeded in using them as compensatory resources to fill other budget gaps (see also chapter 5.1.3 and chapter 6).
The government does not have any permanent committees or other expert bodies responsible for cultural policy purposes. It can though set up special working groups to monitor and prepare decisions in important policy sectors.
On the sector level, the main planning and executive responsibility lies with the Ministry of Education and Culture. In the Ministry, there are two ministers: the Minister of Education and Science and the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. The latter presides over the Department for Cultural, Sports and Youth Policy, which is divided into 5 divisions, i.e. those of Art (including museums and heritage questions and cultural exports), Culture (including copyright and certain media questions), Cultural Legislation and Finance (including strategic planning), Sports, and Youth Policy.
The Ministry and its departments and divisions focus on strategic planning and govern and guide through information provision and performance contracts. In cultural policy implementation the following organisations are of prime importance:
Furthermore, more specific expert and national policy implementation functions are carried out by bodies such as the National Art Gallery, National Audiovisual Archive, Board of Film Classification, CELIA, the Library for the Visually Impaired, and the Administration of the Fortress of Suomenlinna (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
International cultural co-operation is managed for the whole ministry by the Secretariat of International Relations. The Department for Cultural, Sports and Youth Policy does not have any units or special plans for intercultural dialogue, partly because the national legislation and administration focuses primarily on the economic and social conditions of minority groups, partly because all educational policies, including education in the arts and culture, come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry's Department of Education and Science (see below and chapter 3.3).
The following other ministries have an important say in the formation and implementation of cultural policies:
The Ombudsman for Minorities and several advisory bodies have a central role in the protection of minorities, in anti-discrimination policies and in the integration of refugees and immigrants. Until 2008 they, and the integration policy implementation, have been located at the Ministry of Labour. However, the Ministry of Labour was merged by the new government with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (to form the Ministry of Employment and the Economy) and most immigrant policy administration was relocated within the Ministry of the Interior. The labour market and employment issues of immigration policies were transferred to the new Ministry of Employment and the Economy. As for other minority issues, Roma affairs are administered by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of Justice monitors the observing of the Sami autonomy legislation and administration. The municipalities have the right of taxation, that is, the right to determine the rate of municipal income tax for individuals and enterprises. The state (central government) addresses inequalities and problems of infrastructure development in public services through financial transfers, at present mainly through the statutory subsidy system. This very system is also used for transferring most central government financial support for maintaining more equal regional and local supply of art production and culture services (for the functioning of the system in the performing arts and other cultural services, see chapter 2.1).
Cultural policy decision-making at the municipal level is in the hands of the Municipal Council (elected assembly), the Executive Board (reflecting the party divisions and coalitions in the Council), sector municipal committees and the executive staff, headed by the municipal manager / mayor. Regarding the sector committees and administration, the trend in the 1980s was to integrate all cultural matters (theatre, music, amateur arts, etc.) under one municipal committee for culture. In the 1990s the trend was reversed and cultural matters have been increasingly distributed to trans-sector committees with broader responsibilities (e.g. committees on leisure, tourism, etc.).
There is no autonomous regional administration with elected decision-making bodies. The regional administration of the state has been recently re-organised (2010) and went through a radical reform. The regional administration consists of six regional administrative agencies (former 11 provincial units) and fifteen centres for economic development, transportation and environmental affairs. At the same time, eighteen regional councils (federations of municipalities) have gained a greater role in regional development and planning. This is partly due to their responsibilities in planning and monitoring programmes financed within the framework of the EU programmes. This development has been counter-balanced by the organising of the regional state administration as regional development centres for such important sectors as the economy and employment, forestry, transportation and the environment.
The Regional Art Councils are an extension of the system of the national Arts Councils to the regional level. Basically, the arts councils have the same functions at regional level (grants and other support to artistic work, project grants) as the Arts Council of Finland and its art form councils have nationally.
The basic architecture of the core cultural policy decision-making and administration, as it is depicted in the organigram (see chapter 3.1), has not changed much during the last fifteen years. The various sections of the Department of Cultural, Sports and Youth Policy have been altered and names changed. Some delegation of decision-making from the Department to the quangos, especially to the system of arts councils, has also taken place. The regional arts councils, which were directly responsible to the Ministry, were made an administrative part of the "national" system of Arts Councils. On the other hand, crucial changes in jurisdiction and decision-making powers have happened in such culturally salient fields as state-municipality relations, guidance and control of the media and the culture industries, and the administration of refugee and immigrant policies.