Professional cultural co-operation has at least four different levels: 1) government-mediated, 2) national associations-mediated 3) cultural and art institutions mediated, and 4) informal individual networking.
The “indirect” government-mediated, and often also government financed co-operation, is described in chapter 1.4.2. The membership of the municipalities to European associations and the links of the main cities to European city networks were also indicated in chapter 1.4.1. Also of interest here is the extensive cross-country project activities carried out by regional councils, municipalities and voluntary associations within the framework of the EU INTERREG-Programmes.
All Finnish national cultural and art associations have their own “cultural diplomacy”, that is, co-operative relations either bi-laterally with other national associations or international umbrella organisations. Thus, the Finnish library associations (the Finnish Library Association, the Finnish Research Library Association and the Finnish-Swedish Library Association) have close professional co-operation with the library associations in the Nordic Countries and the other countries of the Baltic Sea Region and all are also members of IFLA, the International Library Federation. Another example is the Arts Promotion Centre, with similar transnational neighbourhood relations and membership of IFACCA, the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies and Ars Baltica-network.
All Finnish national cultural and art institutions have well-established transnational relations with corresponding institutions abroad. Instead of traditional touring abroad, these relations are increasingly oriented to more practical joint production projects, “swapping” of production resources and enhancing professional networks.
One example of the latest Finnish programmes for professional co-operation is MOBIUS is a fellowship program for visual arts, museum and archive professionals based in New York, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Finland. The program enables transatlantic mobility and collaborative practices and supports long-lasting professional relationships. MOBIUS is a three-year pilot program organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York (FCINY) and the Finnish Institute in London.
The participants of the fellowship program work in close collaboration with the hosting organization for several months in order to learn and share various modes of operation, knowledge and expertise; analyze and develop operational models and structures within museums, archives and visual arts organizations; realize or initiate a joint project (exhibition, research, event, etc.) in collaboration with the hosting organization’s staff.
The Finnish Cultural Institutes in New York and London manage and coordinate the fellowship periods between professionals and organizations in New York and Finland. The participants work as part of the hosting organization’s staff for a period of several months.
The program will carry results such as exhibitions, publications, research, events, and other outcomes that will find their form during the process. Documentation of the experiences and realized projects will be gathered first in the program’s online archive. Later on the information will be edited as part of a publication that aims to unveil and discuss some of the crucial structures, processes, possibilities and challenges that form the basis of today’s visual arts institutions, museums and archives.
MOBIUS is supported by Kone foundation, Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland and Svenska Kulturfonden (The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland).
Informal networks of international relations are important for the careers of artists and cultural professionals. They can, however, also be based around “schools”, generations or movements, which extend across national borders. One example is the Finnish “Korvat auki”- (“Open Ears”-) generation, whose members were students at the Sibelius-Academy and have, since 1977, revived Finnish music and established an extensive international network. Well-known members of this generation are Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kaija Saariaho and Magnus Lindberg. Another is example is The Helsinki School of photographers, whose members have studied or are studying photographic arts at the University of Art and Design (from 2010 onwards Aalto University, School of Art and Design).