Checkpoint Helsinki’s future undecided – City of Helsinki funding coming to an end

The three-year funding – totalling about 800,000 euros – granted by the City of Helsinki to start up the contemporary art organisation Checkpoint Helsinki runs out at the end of 2015.

Checkpoint Helsinki has applied for continuation funding for 2017 from the City’s Culture office, but the application was refused. On Tuesday, 8 December, the City of Helsinki’s Cultural and Library Committee officially confirmed that it will not grant operational funding from its own budget. At the same time, the Committee appealed to the City Board to find a possibility to support Checkpoint Helsinki from its own funds.

The Committee’s motion states: “In the Committee’s view it would be short–sighted in terms of cultural policy for the City to discontinue support for this new activity after three years of development.”

Checkpoint Helsinki was set up in 2013 on the initiative of artists and other art professionals. The organisation’s operating idea is to produce international contemporary art in Helsinki, to facilitate the collaboration between existing art organizations and, in the long term, to build Helsinki into an art city that attracts international interest.

During its three years, Checkpoint Helsinki has produced 20 international art projects with more than 40 contemporary artists and artist groups – ranging from Arab Spring artists to upcoming names and curators in contemporary art.

Checkpoint Helsinki has opened up new avenues on the art scene, such as the unique international curatorial model, which brings emerging names in contemporary art to Helsinki and commissions new projects from international artists and curators.

Other examples of fresh ideas are the contemporary art exhibition curated by Joanna Warsza, to be produced with the National Museum of Finland on open air museum Seurasaari in summer 2016 and the Museum card club run together with the Finnish Museums Association.

“The decision to leave the funding situation open puts Checkpoint Helsinki in an extremely challenging position. The project plan reflects the work of more than 100 art professionals, and was specifically praised for its long-term approach. It would be a surprize if Helsinki withdrew from the project just when operations had been got going properly,” says Chair of Checkpoint Helsinki’s Board Terike Haapoja.

One consequence of the funding situation is that Checkpoint Helsinki will have to cut down on staff. Director Eva Neklyaeva will move over to the organization’s Board at the start of 2016.

“Checkpoint Helsinki’s future is uncertain, but with the support of the Kone Foundation we will be able to produce the contemporary art exhibition on Seurasaari Island in summer 2016 and the work by the Chimurenga group from Cape Town in Kallio Library in April 2016. The Museum card club run with the Finnish Museums Association will also continue,” Eva Neklyaeva says.

However, the long-term future of the organisation is at the moment completely open.

Checkpoint Helsinki is a contemporary art organisation set up in 2013, with the aim of producing the contemporary art of tomorrow in Helsinki. The association’s operations have been supported by the City of Helsinki and Kone Foundation.