The addressing of the complex and multifaceted relationship between art and politics is extremely timely now that all of Europe is writhing in the grip of great changes in cultural policy. The value of art is re-evaluated in societies on a political level during an economic crisis. In many European countries, the public funding for art and culture has been cut down dramatically and new economic policy criteria have been added as conditions for funding. Entire orchestras have been shut down and the prerequisites for operating in the fringe have become nearly impossible. In Finland, these cuts have so far been avoided, but the financial forecast promises a gloomy outlook for our country as well.
The basis for the Finnish arts and cultural policy was laid down in the 1960s and 70s. The most recent government programme for arts and cultural policy was created in 2003. Most parties do not have any kind of written agenda about cultural policy. Despite all the winds of change, the discussion on art policy has been almost non-existent.
What is the Finnish arts and cultural policy like at the moment and what does its future look like? What will happen to the autonomy of art amidst possible changes and financial cutbacks? How is art political and how does this manifest in society? What kinds of assumptions about the role of art in society lie behind different political ideologies?
Baltic Circle festival, together with Checkpoint Helsinki and the Public Movement group, organised an art event that encouraged discussions about the current state of arts and cultural policy, and its future possibilities. On November 10th, the Make Arts Policy Summit invited representatives of the political parties to lay down their view on cultural policy on the brink of the 2015 elections. Based on the summit, a Make Arts Policy Handbook was produced, providing an analysis on the current state and future of the Finnish arts and cultural policy. During the Baltic Circle festival, a series of both Finnish and international artists created commissioned works dealing with the complex relationship between art and politics.
The Finnish Arts Policy Event – Make Arts Policy (MAP) was not affiliated with any political party. Long live the complexity of art, the richness of conversation and diversity of opinions!