Expert author: Anna Kanerva
Last update: May 14th
Expert author: Anna Kanerva
Last update: May 14th
In the beginning of May, the Finnish Government decided on a hybrid strategy to manage the coronavirus crisis and to gradually lift the restrictions put in place in March after the virus outbreak. The hybrid strategy will involve a controlled shift from large-scale restrictive measures to more targeted ones, and a “test, trace, isolate and treat” approach.
Some of the restrictions from March, including the closing of public indoor premises, many of them cultural premises, will be lifted in “a gradual and controlled manner” from June 1st. These include:
In line with the Government’s decision, large public events with more than 500 people are prohibited until 31st July 2020. This means that the majority of Finnish summer festivals and live events have already been or will be cancelled. This has brought to the fore the wide-ranging financial importance of festivals for many local economies, which will now be lacking in the already tight municipal financial situation. Also, Music Finland has estimated that the cancelling of music events until the end of July would mean losses of EUR 127 million (19% of the value of the sector) for the music sector and should the situation be prolonged until the end of summer, the losses would amount to EUR 150 million or approximately a quarter of the value of the sector (See: musicfinland.fi).
Government actions since April 2020
In April, the Finnish Government reached an agreement on the second supplementary budget proposal for 2020 and the General Government Fiscal Plan for 2021-2024. The proposal focuses on the costs caused by the coronavirus epidemic. In the administrative branch of the Ministry of Education and Culture, appropriations are proposed for alleviating the financial distress of actors in the culture and sport sectors. The total amount of the proposed appropriations for the Ministry is EUR 69.4 million.
In the proposal, an appropriation increase of over EUR 40 million is proposed for the arts and culture sector due to the loss of ticket revenue and other income as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The additional appropriation would be used to support the activities of actors in the arts and culture sector until the 31st of May 2020. A total of EUR 19 million would be allocated to professionals in the field of arts and culture, artists, self-employed persons, freelancers and independent groups in the field of arts and culture, cultural events, and other cultural organisations. A total of EUR 3.2 million would be allocated to national art institutions and a total of EUR 18 million to theatres, orchestras and museums receiving central government transfers. In addition, a total of EUR 1.3 million would be allocated to the Governing Body of Suomenlinna and the Finnish Heritage Agency.
Also, the Government proposes an appropriation increase of EUR 3 million for discretionary government grants for the providers of basic education in the arts other than those receiving central government transfers based on teaching hours. In addition, the Government has decided to compensate for the net losses in liberal adult education and basic education in the arts in the third supplementary budget proposal for 2020.
Solo entrepreneurs and freelancers, including those in working in the fields of arts and culture, are able to apply for financial support due to the coronavirus situation. They can apply for a support sum of EUR 2000 euros from the municipality that the company has registered as home municipality in the Finnish Business Information System, to cover operating costs incurred between March 1st and August 31st 2020. The mechanism was developed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Association of Finnish Municipalities.
The Finnish Government decided on May 13th on a new support mechanism for enterprises hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic. The aim of the support is to prevent bankruptcy and the loss of jobs, while the support mechanism put in place in March through Business Finland funds new development measures (see information on the measure below). The government support is available regardless of industry. Associations and foundations operating in business are also eligible for the support. The support sums will be decided in preparation later. The support will be allocated from the State Treasury.
The Ministry of Education and Culture has given a mandate to a group of researchers from different fields of study to formulate measures to moderate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The Ministry is using the researchers’ views in preparing measures for coping with the coronavirus situation in its own sector and across joint Government preparations. In April, the Ministry of Education and Culture also implemented a survey aimed at actors in the fields of arts, culture and creative industries to gather information on the effects of the coronavirus crisis in the field. Information received in the survey will be used in designing both quick policy interventions and long-term policy and action.
Other support and actions
In April, the Association of Finnish Municipalities published — in co-operation with Forum Artis (a national co-operation organisation for Finnish artists’ associations), Kulta ry (a central organisation for Finnish culture and arts associations) and Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre — a list of good practices on how municipalities can support the arts and cultural sector during the coronavirus crisis. In the field of culture, the crisis has caused concern on what the impact of the large financial deficit of Finnish municipalities due to the coronavirus epidemic will have on municipal cultural services and activities in the future.
Government actions in March 2020
The Ministry of Education and Culture has granted Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) EUR 500,000 in extraordinary funding to assist arts and culture professionals hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Taike has set aside around EUR 100,000 for alleviating the coronavirus crisis. The Finnish Cultural Foundation has granted EUR 500,000 to Taike and other large Finnish foundations, namely the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, the Saastamoinen Foundation, the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation. Each foundation has also provided EUR 100,000 in emergency aid via Taike. This brings the total aid from the government and the foundations up to EUR 1.5 million. Foundations will also grant aid through their own channels.
For allocating the grant, Taike will open an application round at the beginning of April, and grant decisions will be made at the end of the month. The aid is primarily intended to take the form of short-term grants for freelance artists whose work has been significantly hampered by the coronavirus epidemic. Taike is expecting to provide at least 500 grants with the funding.
According to the Ministry of Education and Culture, the closing of museums or the cancellation of performances of theatres and orchestras due to the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting possible cutbacks in activities or personnel does not affect the amount of state subsidies to cultural institutions for the year 2020 or result in recovery of payments.
For activities supported by discretionary government grants, the Ministry of Education and Culture is flexible in ensuring that the necessary costs of supported activities or projects brought by the coronavirus outbreak can be covered with the grant. It is also possible to apply for an extension on the grant depending on its terms and conditions.
Business Finland is offering business development funding services for SMEs and mid-cap companies operating in Finland whose business is impacted negatively by the coronavirus epidemic. Funding services are aimed at, for example, creative industries and performing arts, tourism and all industries whose subcontracting chains have been or will be impacted by the coronavirus. Companies can use the funding to carry out new development measures aimed at preventing and correcting market and supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus. The amount of funding channelled to businesses through Business Finland is in total EUR 700 million.
The Finnish government has proposed temporary changes to unemployment security due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the proposal, entrepreneurs and freelancers, regardless of their form of enterprise, and also entrepreneurs working part-time, would be eligible for unemployment security.
Other support and actions
The Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes network has announced an open call for art projects. The Institutes are seeking artistic proposals related to themes such as the state of emergency, radical change, resilience, artistic practice in the future and alone together. The project will act as a documentation of the COVID-19 crisis and gives the artists an opportunity to reflect it through the arts. The application is open to all Finnish and Finland-based professional artists who have lost work opportunities due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Institutes are commissioning projects from selected artists or artistic groups to be completed by June 30, 2020. The total grant of an individual project is between EUR 1.500–5.000.