Issues concerning creative economy, the preparation of a cultural policy report and the structures of freelancers’ social security are highlighted in the cultural policy of the new Government Programme. Funding for art and culture remains partly unclear, but there are no promises to increase the budget for culture. The increase in the VAT rate will also apply to most first sales of works by visual arts. The Artists’ Association of Finland listed some observations on the recently published Government Programme.

In terms of cultural policies, the new Government Programme emphasises the development of the export and growth potential of culture.

The Government Programme identifies the growth potential of the cultural sector, which will be supported by a cross-administrative growth strategy for the creative industries. Cross-border activities for art will also be promoted.

“Increasing the share of creative industries in GDP requires investments in inadequate structures in the sector. One wonders how this can be done in a situation where the budget for culture will not increase. We hope, however, to engage in fruitful cooperation in developing visual arts structures,” says Annukka Vähäsöyrinki, Director of the Artists’​ Association of Finland.

There is no mention at all of visual arts in the programme.

“The programme doesn’t mention visual arts at all, even though the Ministry of Education and Culture has identified it as a key development area in its recent Outlook Review of the Officials,” says Annukka Vähäsöyrinki.

The cultural sector has been jointly lobbying for the culture budget to be raised to one percent of the state budget but no progress has been made with regard to this issue. The programme does not clearly state the level of funding for arts and culture. State subsidies granted by the Ministry of Education and Culture will be subject to cuts that will be implemented gradually (EUR 50 - 125 million by 2027). It is not yet clear how these will be allocated within the Ministry of Education and Culture’s administrative branch, or whether there will also be cuts in the culture budget. Central government transfers to municipalities will also be cut, and this may have an impact on municipalities’ culture budgets.

The reduced VAT rate currently in force (10%) will be raised to 14%. This will apply to tickets to cultural events as well as the first sale of most works of art. This change does not support the culture industries’ recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, which hit the sector hard.

It appears that in terms of the Artists’ Association of Finland’s goals for the Government Programme, progress will made in the promotion of the internationalisation of arts, and there will be improvements in social security for self-employed people and, related to this, advances in the implementation of combinatory unemployment insurance. We appreciate that problems related to social security and unemployment benefits concerning professionals in the culture sector have been identified. However, the reductions in housing benefits and social security mentioned in the Government Programme will, on the whole, also affect many visual artists, whose earnings are the lowest among artists. Due to the inadequate structures in the field, few visual artists can get by on the income made from their artistic work alone.

Report to offer long-term perspective to cultural policy

A working group on the future of the cultural sector (in Finnish) compiled proposals for cultural policy during the last government term. According to the working group’s proposals, the Government Programme includes elements such as drawing up a report on cultural policy and improvements to the position of freelancers, whereas its other proposals, such as an increase in artists’ pensions and an increase in the number and level of grants, are not found in the programme.

The Artists’​ Association of Finland hopes that the meritorious work of the working group on the future of the cultural sector will also be remembered when cultural policies are decided by the forthcoming Government.

“A report on cultural policy is a good move towards a cultural policy with a long-term perspective. We wish good luck to the new Minister of Culture and Science, Sari Multala (the National Coalition Party), and Mari-Leena Talvitie (the National Coalition Party), who will take on the role in two years’ time, and invite them to communicate with visual artists and the visual arts sector,” says Annukka Vähäsöyrinki.

Further information:

Hanna Hannus, Head of Communication, Artists’​ Association of Finland, tel. +358 50 307 2127,