The traditional Finnish strategy for the promotion of artistic creativity has been simple and pragmatic: to secure favourable working conditions for individual artists and their associations and provide high level professional education and training. This strategy is reflected in the following opening passage of the 1969 Act on Art Professorships and on the state’s grants to artists:
“…the grant can be received for securing preconditions for continued artistic work or for studies and continued education in Finland or abroad”
At the time the 1969 law was prepared and enacted, no mention was made about the economic or employment contribution of the arts, artists and related cultural production and service systems to the national economy. This view was introduced later in the 1980s and was promoted first in terms of the “cultural dimension of development”. This economic pragmatism led decision-makers in the late 1990s to start to advocate public support to national export efforts in the field of culture. In the early 2000s this approach was expanded and linked to policy analyses of creative industries and creative economy. The first Finnish strategy paper of the Ministry of Education “Eleven Steps to Creative Finland” of 2006 focussed totally on the issues of developing creativity to match with the requirements of a knowledge society. Artists were not even mentioned in the report. This omission was soon compensated by rather sophisticated analyses of the economic contribution of creative / copyright industries and by the work started to construct the Finnish SNA-based cultural account (“satellite”) system. These lines of development were funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The export approach, however, made progress on its own account. An analysis and evaluation of the state of cultural exports was reported to the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2004; interim export support was started in 2005, and an export grant programme was affirmed for the years 2007-2011. The financial support has been granted to top exporters and grants have been given to such business operations as developing sales and business strategies, marketing, branding, commoditisation and establishing network relations. To start with, the grants were rather modest; the total financing allotted in 2005-2008 was only 4.2 million EUR.
The European Social Fund (ESF) has been so far the main source of financing for the practical development work carried out by the proponents of the creative industries / creative economy approach. Within the framework of the 2007-2013 ESF programme the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture financed a national development programme titled “National programme for promoting the growth and internationalisation of the entrepreneurial activities in creative industries”. The project was started in 2008 and lasted until 2013.
The objectives of this programme were:
- promoting R&D and innovation activities in the creative industries;
- affirming entrepreneurial competence;
- enhancing competences of producers and managers; and
- analysing and affirming knowledge needed for anticipating changes in the operating environment of creative industries.
The national programme received ESF-allocation of 14.6 million EUR via the Ministry; the required co-funding has come mainly from the municipal sector. The funding went to numerous development projects, which were regionally dispersed and coordinated by organisation “Luova Suomi” (Creative Industries Finland), located at the Aalto University.
For the new Structural Find period 2014-2020, co-ordinated in Finland by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Ministry of Education and Culture is implementing policy line no. 4 Education, professional skills and life-long learning (see chapter 3.5.1). The Ministry implements four development programmes within its own sector and two intersectorally. One of the sectoral development programmes is aimed at strengthening creative competencies through counselling, mentoring and education. The duration of the development programme is seven years with yearly financing of 1 770 000 EUR and 12 390 000 EUR for the whole seven years.
The creative industry development activities have been carried out by the Ministry of Education and Culture with parallel programme-based development work has also been carried out by the Ministry of Employment and Economy. Although both sides have focused their efforts to enhance entrepreneurship in creative industries, there have been frictions concerning financing, division of labour and co-ordination. In 2010 the two ministries appointed a one-man (actually in both cases a one-woman) committee to coordinate the efforts. The task for the appointee of the Ministry of Employment and Economy was to explicate how the basic conditions for more effective creative economy should be affirmed; the appointee of the Ministry of Education and Culture was in turn to explicate how creative economy should be made more efficient by improving the economic and social conditions of artists and other related occupational groups. Both reports were made public in 2010.
The report stemming from the Ministry of Employment and Economy sketched how hybrid economy will put creativity into a new context and proposed mechanism to co-ordinate policy measures of the two ministries. The report from the Ministry of Education and Culture asked whether creative economy is able to get artists committed and contribute to economic growth and what should be done to enhance this commitment. Quite recently a bi-lateral working group of the two ministries outlined a proposal for simplification of the dispersed financing system and recommended establishing of a simple and concentrated joint system of policy planning and decision making. The proposal is by and large based on the report from the Ministry of Employment and Economy.
The report from the Ministry of Education and Culture can be seen as a proposal for the creativity strategy for the Ministry. Although not official it can be seen as updating of the Ministry’s 2003 programme for Art and Artist Policy. As it is also in consonance with the Ministry’s 2010 Green Paper on the Future of Culture to Parliament, it deserves a brief review.
The basic premise of the report is simple and clear: artists do not exist as producers of assets for external economy, especially if they are not treated equal with other professional groups in respect to accruing economic and social benefit. Or, in words of the report:
“While dealing with the creative economy one should pay special attention to the position of the arts and artists. Artists are not sufficiently taken into account in the present discussions about the creative economy, creative industries and creative entrepreneurship. Among the artists this creates an attitude that “this does not concern us”.”
To avoid this we should ask, what are those new structures of the creative economy which facilitate the birth of new ideas and open up such new spaces which generate an innovative and free atmosphere for creativity?”
From this perspective the report makes eleven recommendations. The first recommendation proposes that the concept of creative economy should be replaced with the concept of the growth of creativity; and the last recommendation suggests that the “per cent” principle for new public buildings should be made more binding, not only with a stick but with a carrot as well. The nine recommendations in between recommend a more rewarding and wider grant-system, safeguards against unemployment, resolving of the sole traders’ pension problem and allowing more leeway in the taxation for trans-annual levelling of unevenly accumulating income. The result of implementing recommendations should be that the share of income earned by artists from artistic work should be raised from the present 50% to 70%, the same level as in the other Nordic countries.