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Finland/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.3 Associations of citizens, advocacy groups, NGOs and advisory panels

Finland has been sometimes called a promised land of voluntary associations and citizen's civic action, in reference to the fact that there are 70 000 registered and operative associations which have about 15 million individual members, or three times the population. About 75% of the population is a member of one association, about 30% belong to one association and 8% belong to more than five associations. The present annual aggregate turnover of the associations and related civic actions has been estimated to be five billion EUR, with public support of 1.6 billion EUR. The associations offer employment to 82 000 employees; of these 25 000 are part-time. Yet the share of the employees of the associations of the total gainfully employed population is 3.5% – the same per cent as the value added contribution of the association sector to GDP. All these figures do not reflect the voluntary section only; the aggregate figure includes the contributions of some religious organisations, trade unions, and other "third sector" organisations such as foundations, small co-operatives, political parties and adult education.

In addition to employed staff, the voluntary associations rely strongly on voluntary work. It has been estimated that the association sector's annual aggregate labour time is more than 123 million hours, which corresponds to an annual labour contribution of 80 000 fully employed persons.

In comparison with these aggregate figures we have less exact statistics on the size and economic contributions of voluntary associations and civic action in the arts and cultural sector. It has been estimated that the share of cultural associations of the total 70 000 associations is about 20% or 14 000 associations. On the other hand, it has been proposed that there are two and a half thousand art / artists' associations, seven hundred heritage and museum associations and about a thousand associations for the promotion of the arts and culture. What seems to be true is that these are the largest categories in this order; and that music associations are the largest group amongst the art / artists' associations. Amateur music associations feature strongly among music associations.

In order to have a picture of the relative importance of the association sector for the arts and culture, we can avail of a piece of information presented in a recent policy report of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The report outlined the basic principles and objectives of the Ministry's Strategy for Civil Society organisations 2010-2020 as part of the governments Civil Society Programme. The following Table was presented in the Ministry's report.

Table 33:  National registered associations which received subsidy in 2008 from the Ministry of Education and Culture

Category of association

Number of organisations

Basic subsidy

Special subsidy

Sports organisation (a)


35 900 000

5 080 700

Youth / youth policy organisation


13 124 300

2 177 000

Association managing a study centre


3 000 000

150 000

Research communities (sector research of sports / culture )


6 190 640

2 339 214

Friendship society


2 622 000


Arts / artists association


5 310 200

2 107 955

Peace association


396 600


Association enhancing multiculturalism, against racism


273 400

13 000

Counselling association


5 139 000


Women's organisation


293 000




146 000




72 395 340

11 866 969

Source: The Strategy of the Ministry of Education and Culture for Civil Society Organisations, publications of the Ministry of Education and Culture 18/2010.

Chapter published: 25-04-2017

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