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Finland/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

The main ministries responsible for international cultural co-operation are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs controls and guides the overall "diplomacy aspects" of cultural co-operation, the Ministry of Education and Culture and more particularly, its Department of Cultural, Sports and Youth Policy is responsible for the substantive "exchange of the arts and culture"-activities. Cultural and art institutes, institutes of art education and many expert bodies ("quangos" like the Finnish Film Foundation) maintain, in addition to "content co-operation and exchange", professional co-operation in managerial and technological aspects in their fields of work. The relative role of the two ministries and the internal structure and actors in the Ministry of Education and Culture and the domains of its cultural co-operation activities are described in chapter 3.4.1.

The EU desks and contact points are listed in  chapter 3.4.1. Parallel domestic work of presenting Finnish art and culture nationally and internationally is carried out in Finland by such national promotion centres as the Finnish Literature Information Centre (FILI), the Finnish Music Information Centre (IFIMIC), the Foundation for the Promotion of Finnish Music (LUSES), the Finnish Dance Information Centre, The Finnish Theatre Information Centre and the Design Forum Finland. The promotion work is also carried out by the Finnish Film Foundation and the Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture, whose main functions are, however, financing film production and related development of Finnish cinema and strengthening audiovisual culture. Besides making the visual arts better-known, the Finnish Fund for Art Exchange (FRAME) has taken a prominent role in cultural export efforts by supporting and organising exhibitions abroad, piloting international curator training and participating actively in joint projects with foreign galleries and art museums. In 2007 a Network for Cultural Export was created to enhance the joint efforts and flow of information between the above organisations and other partners, among them the Finnish cultural institutes abroad but its activities ha.

Finnish embassies and consulates all over the world have, of course, an important role not only in implementing "official cultural diplomacy", but also as nodal points in the information networks of actors in international cultural co-operation. Finland has also a network of sixteen cultural and scientific institutes located abroad as well as the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre in Espoo, Finland, the latter promoting and developing interaction between Sweden and Finland. Four scientific institutes are located in Rome, Athens, the Middle East and Tokyo; the twelve cultural institutes are situated in St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Berlin, Budapest, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Antwerp, Paris, London, Madrid and New York. All these institutes are operated by foundations; although the state supports them. They do not have any joint mandate, but are independent and have varying missions and profiles which alter when the directors and board members of the foundations change. The institutes' co-operation is co-ordinated in Helsinki by the association of the Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes. The association promotes communication and cooperation between the institutes, helps them with community relations, administration and communication in Finland, and supports cooperation between the institutes and their Finnish partners ( The most common activities are events, lectures, discussions and exhibitions organised in co-operation with local partners (institutes of art, science, education and technology, business and cultural associations). The institutes do not have a common programme, but the Ministry of Education and Culture as their main financer monitors their activities and results. The former (2011-2015) Finnish government set as one of the key objectives the centralising of Finland's foreign operations, including cultural and scientific institutes, under the concept of Team Finland. The Team Finland network ( brings together all state-funded actors and the services they offer to promote the internationalisation of Finnish companies, to attract foreign investments to Finland, and to promote Finland’s country brand.

The strengthening of the role of the institutes as civil society actors and in promoting cultural exports was named as a central cultural policy objective of the 2011-2015 government. However, the current government makes no mention to the institutes in the cultutal or foreign policy objectives..

For information on the roles of the other ministries with regard to minority, refugee and immigration policies and in the implementation of pertinent international conventions and agreements see chapter 3.2 and chapter 3.3; they are examined in greater detail in  chapter 4.2.5, chapter 4.2.7 and chapter 4.2.8.

Finnish municipalities have become increasingly active in establishing and maintaining ties of their own in international cultural co-operation. They have town twinning programmes and the main cities belong to such international organisations and networks as the Union of Baltic Cities and the Eurocities. On the municipal and regional umbrella level, the Finnish Association of the Local and Regional Authorities is a member of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), European Section CEMR of the IULA and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Europe (CLRAE). Finnish regional councils participate in the activities of the Association of European regions. All these organisations maintain cultural co-operation programmes and carry out research and development activities in the administration and management of the arts and culture. The Finnish Broadcasting Company is an active member of the EBU.

The EU membership has opened new avenues for international cultural co-operation e.g. through the training and entrepreneurial programmes of the MEDIA programmes and the co-production funding by Eurimages. Before the current cultural export strategy, the direct public input of the Ministry of Education and Culture in the culture industries has been incidental. The new strategy will be implemented by a network co-ordinated by the Ministry's Cultural Exports programme. In this network, the public partners are the national promotion centres, the Finnish Film Institute, the Finnish embassies and cultural institutes abroad, Arts Council of Finland, and TEKES, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology, the R&D centre within the Ministry of Labour and Industry (now the Ministry of Employment and the Economy). TEKES has offices of its own in Brussels, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Silicon Valley and Washington DC.

In the field of professional art education and in other cultural education and training, the educational institutes, especially the art universities and the cultural and art programmes of the polytechnics, are the main actors and implement their own policies for international exchange of students and teachers and other forms of international co-operation. Art universities belong to ELIA, European League of Institutes if Arts, and some of the polytechnics to ENCATC, European network of cultural administration training centres.

Chapter published: 16-07-2018

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