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Employment in professional theatres, orchestras and museums increased by 8% between 2007 and 2010 and the average salary also rose by 8% due to an increase in subsidies.

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Finland/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.1 Cultural infrastructure: tendencies & strategies

The division of financial responsibilities between the two main financiers, that is the state and the municipalities, is clear. The state takes care of the national cultural institutions, including university level arts education; and it supports also the culture industries, mainly cinema. With the financial transfers through its statutory system of subsidies the state also levels disparities throughout the country in the provision of performing arts (theatres, orchestras) and library and museum services; and the regional arts councils mitigate inequalities in the national spread and support for the creative arts. The state subsidy systems help to maintain an extensive system of extracurricular art education and professional education for cultural occupations. The state also bears the main responsibility for the central national infrastructure: construction and renovation of nationally significant buildings, maintenance of the main information and communication systems; and it also subsidises construction and communication costs of the national networks of cultural service institutions.

Municipalities, in collaboration with third sector organisations, maintain the basic cultural service systems and their infrastructure. Minimum services can be found in small rural municipalities where they consist of public libraries, adult education units and support for some socio-cultural events and activities; the maximum service system can be found in the Helsinki Metropolitan Region, consisting of the City of Helsinki and three other municipalities: Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. Between these two extremes, other cities can be divided into three categories: major cities, regional centres and small towns. In this classification, the presence / absence of a university and other institutions of higher education and culture make a clear difference. These institutions guarantee interested and committed audiences for the arts and culture. Economically the worst off are the regional (province centres) that must maintain reasonably extensive provision of arts and cultural services but have small and fragmented audiences and pay relatively higher costs for maintaining this provision. There are some indications that the institutions – public libraries, historical and art museums – which have been assigned with a special regional role and given additional state subsidies, have problems in fulfilling this role effectively.

In more general terms, it has been argued that the state has, since the 1991-1993 recession, retracted from active support and levelling policies and forced the municipalities to carry a heavier financial burden. The municipalities in turn have expected the cultural institutions to increase their own earned income, especially box office earnings. However the most recent reform of the statutory system of central government subsidies has substantially improved the situation. In this reform, the state compensated for the cost deficit it had allowed to emerge in the statutory transfers during 1997-2005 by not reacting to the increase in the volume and staff costs.  In the three years from 2008-2010 the statutory state subsidies to professional theatres, orchestras and museums in the statutory system increased by nearly 50 million EUR, almost by 80% compared to 2007, and in 2010 was 113.6 million EUR.

The impact and organisational level effectiveness of the increase were evaluated at Cupore (Foundation for Cultural Policy Research). According to the evaluation, the state funding increase made possible a considerable increase in the personnel of arts and cultural institutions, 427 person years altogether (8%). Also, the average yearly salary rose 8%. Hence, personnel costs increased substantially, 29.8 million EUR (16%). The rest of the increase was used for rents (12 million EUR) and other un-itemised expenses (7.9 million EUR).

The funding structure of the institutions changed. The relative share of total government funding increased from 23% in 2007 to 34% in 2010, and the relative share of municipal subsidies shrank from 49% in 2007 to 42% in 2010. In 57 out of 97 public institutions, the municipal support decreased.

The management of the institutions emphasised strongly artistic quality and the quality of content, staging, and exhibition layouts, audience education and museum pedagogy as the targets of the increased funding. From 2007 to 2010, the number of productions (theatre performances, concerts, exhibitions) increased by around 400 (3%). The number of attendances decreased by around 191 000 (-3%). Only orchestras were able to increase the number of productions (14 and 36% respectively) and private orchestras were also able to increase attendances (23%).

In order to understand the nature and functioning of the Finnish cultural and art institutions, we must return to the legislation.

Table 18:  Current legislation pertaining to cultural and art institutions in Finland



Act on Financing Education and Culture (previously  635/1998, now 1705/2009), pertaining to the provision of  "non-basic" public services financed jointly by the state and municipalities

Specific "Financing Law"defining the rules for calculating and allocating central government transfers (subsidies) to municipal and non-profit local service organisations including professional local and regional theatres, museums, and orchestras

Act on Central Government Transfers to Municipal Basic Services (1704/2009), renews the transfer legislation, which aggregates most important ("basic") transfer systems and relocates them to be administered as one single package in the  Ministry of Finance

General financing law defining the relative share of the state and municipalities in producing basic public services and provides the basic rules for calculating and allocating the transfer of state subsidies to municipalities

Lottery Act (1047/2001)

The revision of old legislation; gives the government the right to contract a monopoly for 1) lottery / lotto, football pools and betting, 2) slot-machines and casinos, and 3) harness race betting; orders the return of the profits to the state budget and earmarks their use for specific purposes

Act Regulating the Use of the Profits of Lottery / Lotto, Football Pools and Betting (1054/2001)

Defines the share of the annual returns of lottery / lotto, football pools and betting as follows: 25% to sports, 5% to youth policy measures, 17.5% for scientific research and 35% to the arts

Government Decree on Organising Lotteries (1345/2001)

Specifies the technical rules for all forms of lotteries


Act on National Board of Antiquities (282/2004, original 31/1972, amended 1016/1987, 1080/2001)

Confirmed the legislative basis for the main expert and policy implementing body on heritage

Decree on National Board of Antiquities (407/2004)

Specified the Act on the Board of antiquities e.g. in respect of the status of the National Museum

Act on Finnish National Gallery (566/2000, amended 504/2004, previous Act 185/1990)

Provides an umbrella organisation for three state-owned art museums (those of domestic, foreign and contemporary art). This act is currently being amended and will come into effect on 1 January 2014 as the FNG will start operating as a foundation. 

Act on National Audiovisual Archive 1434/2007 expands the tasks of the earlier Finnish Film Archive by including radio and television programmes in the archival material.

Organises the national administration of archiving films, television and radio programmes

Act on the Library for the Visually Impaired (11/78, 638/1996, amended 835/1998)

Provides national book services for the visually impaired

Act on Audiovisual Programmes (710/2011) and the Act on the Finnish Centre for Media Education and Audiovisual Programmes (711/2011).

These acts repeal the former acts on age classification of programmes for the protection of children against exhibition of pornography and violence and establish a centre for media education and audiovisual media which started to operate in 2012. 

Act for Promotion of Film Art (28/2000)

Provides legal basis for the activities of the Finnish Film Foundation (founded in 1969 to support national film production and film art).

Municipal Cultural Activities Act (728/1992, amended 1681/1992)

Legislative basis for central government support to non-institutional cultural activities in municipalities

Museums Act (729/1992, amended 1959/1995, 1166/1996, 1072/2005)

Legislative basis defining professional museums eligible for central government subsidies according to the "Financing Law"

Theatres and Orchestras Act (730/1992, amended 1277/1994, 1460/1995, 642/1998, 1075/2005))

Legislative basis defining professional theatres and orchestras eligible for central government subsidies according to the "Financing Law"

(Public) Library Act (904/1998), is specified by Decree 1078/1998 defining the tasks of the central Library and regional libraries in the public library system 

Legislative basis defining the tasks of public (municipal) libraries eligible for central government subsidies according to the "Act on general government transfers to municipalities"


Act on Professional Adult Education (631/1998)

A new integrating law that professionalises the traditional forms of voluntary adult education and lays the ground for their public support

Decree on Professional Adult Education (812/1998)

Specifies the previous Act


Universities Act (558/2009), this new Act is a kind of desetatisation law dividing existing universities in two modes of management, either as public corporations or foundation-based institutions.

Defines the units, structure, functioning and financing and management the two types of universities 

Act on Basic Education in the Arts (originally 424/1992, now 633/1998, amended 518/2000)

Integrates the organisation of extracurricular art education for children and youth and lays basis for its public financing

Decree on Basic Education in the Arts (255/1995)

Specifies the previous law

Vocational Education Act (630/1998)

Legislative basis for lower vocational education, including culture (handicraft, design, audiovisual media, visual expression, dance and music

Polytechnics Act (351/2003 and Decree (351/2003)

Defines the objectives and organisation of polytechnic education, including higher professional / vocational education in the arts, culture, media and humanities. New legislation for polytechnics is being developed on a government proposal from 2012, in operation from 1 January 2014.  

Act on Pilot Programme on Postgraduate Studies in Polytechnic Institutions (645/2001). The Act was enforced up to 31.7.2005

A further step to remodel polytechnics degree structure to that of universities

Source:    databank FINLEX

The category of financing cultural and art institutions and cultural services illustrates the vertical decentralisation and organisation of joint financing for the arts and culture - especially cultural institutions and services - by the central government and local governments (municipalities). The first law in the list, the Financing Law, provides the formulas that are used to assess the share of the municipalities and central government in the financing of different institutional sectors (public libraries, professionally managed museums, professional theatres and orchestras and the organisations providing extra-curricular art education). The next law only indicates how close the relationship between the central government and local self-government (municipalities) are financially: the former provides financial transfers for the latter and gives them equal opportunities in the overall provision of public services.

The category of cultural and art institutions demonstrates the legislative basis for the cultural institutions. These laws and decrees actually specify the types of professional institutions that can be included in the sphere of a Financing Law made up of joint central government-municipal financing. Some of the national institutions like the National Opera and the National Theatre are private organisations, a foundation and a joint stock company, respectively. They are financed on an annual contractual basis and do not have special laws like the National Art Gallery (see Table 18, second section). There is no law either for the Radio Symphony Orchestra, which is operated within the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), or for the National Museum (which is still a department of the National Board of Antiquities).

The institutions of professional education and training are administratively separated from the rest of the cultural administration, because they are within the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and Science of the Ministry of Education and Culture (see chapter 3.1). These educational institutions form a hierarchical line from the second level vocational education via polytechnics (N=29, with most having special programmes for the arts, arts management, media and humanities) to the art universities (N=4). This line includes also the earlier extensive system of music schools and conservatories and, at the lowest level, it is supported by the system of extra-curricular "general" arts education and the specialised secondary schools of art.

Further important institutions can be found in the category of adult education. The different forms of adult education (civic colleges, municipal study circles, adult education centres), which all had earlier separate legislative bases, have now been integrated within one umbrella Act.

It is difficult to pin down any general trends of development within this diverse institutional sector. There is a trend that is closely connected with the on-going processes of desetatisation and the adoption of some doctrines of New Public Management. These processes and doctrines appear for example as a system of performance contracts and the introduction of net budgeting and business accounting systems in central government and municipal accounting. There are also parallel demands that cultural and art institutions must earn more income as a ratio to their total expenditure. Recently in the public budgeting and account system the need to monitor and report the efficiency and longer term impacts of publicly financed activities have been emphasised. There are no definite earned income ratio criteria; however the City of Helsinki's officials have indicated informally that the city finds it difficult to finance institutions where their earned income is less than 20% of the total expenditure. Also, as mentioned before (see chapter 4.3), the current trend for organisation of cultural activities in Finland is to favour the foundation form of governance. The Finnish National Gallery will start functioning as a foundation from 1 January 2014, as will the Ministry's current subordinate Institute for Russia and Eastern Europe from 1 January 2013. The argument is that as a foundation, these organisations will be more agile and independent in organising and developing services and in diversifying sources of financing. 

Chapter published: 25-04-2017

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