Finland (Suomi) is located in northern Europe and is 338,145 sq. km in area. Sixty-four per cent of the 5,150 million people live in urban areas. The official languages are Finnish (94 per cent) and Swedish (6 per cent). There is a minority of Sámi people in Finland estimated at 6,500. Four thousand of the Sámi people live in three of the northernmost municipalities of Finland. The state religions are Lutheran (89 per cent) and Orthodox (1 per cent), while 9 per cent of the population do not belong to any denomination.

Finland belongs to the Nordic social welfare states, which have traditionally emphasized the need for an extensive network of public cultural institutions, for example libraries, theatres, operas, orchestras, etc. It has always sought to ensure access to public cultural services, while at the same time recognizing the need to safeguard the autonomy of artists and their works. Cultural democracy and cultural democratization are key elements in support of this system of welfare state cultural policy.

The concept of decentralization, giving more autonomy to the municipalities, has become a priority. Traditionally, the municipalities have held a strong position in Finland as the major public financiers of culture. Of the three levels of government, the municipalities make the largest contribution to the cultural sector (60 per cent), while the state's contribution is 40 per cent. In contrast to other Western countries, the regions (provinces) do not play a strong role in the development of culture. In general, they are an extension of the central administration and receive their funding from the state. Unlike local governments, the regions do not hold elections or have their own system of taxation.


The Finnish legislative and administrative cultural policy framework was created during the 1960's and 1970's, with its origins in the 19th century and the development of Finnish nationalism. The framework was based on the following key elements: the development of a central government administration for the arts; the establishment of cultural institutions, art societies and artists' associations; and the development of a municipal cultural administration. Public libraries, adult education, and the maintenance of cultural heritage are also significant components to the system of central government and municipal cultural administration.

A part of the development of the social welfare state was increased state-ownership and financial control of the national cultural institutions. Therefore, the institutions have been receiving stable financing directly from the state budget. It was justified by the need of strong national centres, which were to maintain the national culture.

But, the economic recession of the early 1990's initiated the deconstruction of some social welfare state policies. Cultural policy makers are radically changing their approach, searching for new measures to finance the arts and culture. Questions of public and private sector cooperation in the financing of the arts and culture are being raised, as well as other issues, including the interpretation of human rights in cultural policies, mass media and environmental questions.

The traditional Finnish cultural policies reflect the following basic principles:

·       supporting creativity and diversity;

·       enhancing national identity;

·       decentralization; and

·       promoting equal access to the arts and culture.

Some new principles are added to the traditional ones in 1993:

·       economic and social value of the arts and culture;

·       partnership of public, non-profit and private financing of culture; and

·       maintaining ecologically sustainable development in respect to natural and man-made environment.

The reform of the state subsidy system has not pertained to the cultural sector alone. It concerned the division of financing responsibilities and the level of financing of all public institutions and service organizations. The reform includes the new ideology of “management by results” and the new accounting system, which is harmonized with the private enterprizes’ bookkeeping.

These reforms give institutions and service organizations more responsibilities, but at the same time more freedom for independent business operations. It all leads to “désétatisation”.


2.1  Public and semi-public bodies

National level

Although the Finnish Parliament has ultimate control over the state cultural budget, it relies largely on the advice provided by the Council of State and upon the recommendations made by the Ministries of Finance and Education. The Ministry of Education has jurisdiction over the administration of the arts and culture at the national level.

Since 1990, the Ministry of Education has been divided into two sectors: one for education and science policies and the other for cultural policy. The Ministry's Department for Culture is responsible for the planning and implementation of cultural policy, including matters relating to the arts, public libraries, museums, copyright, cultural heritage, youth and sport, media and cultural institutions such as the Finnish Film Foundation, the Finnish Film Archives, the State Office for Film Censorship, the National Board of Antiquities, the Suomenlinna Fortress, and the Library for the Visually Handicapped.

Following the gaining of independence in 1917, the present system of expert bodies (boards) granting scholarships to artists was created. These boards were originally run by representatives of artists' associations and arts organizations. Their role was to advise the Ministry and the Council of State in matters relating to the support, promotion and development of the arts.

The legislative reforms of the late 1960's and 1970's linked the main expert bodies in the field of the arts to each other by introducing a system of arts councils, headed by the Arts Council of Finland (ACF). There are nine national arts councils - for architecture, cinema, crafts and design, dance, literature, music, photographic art, theatre, and visual arts.

The Arts Council of Finland (the ACF and the nine national councils) acts as an arm’s-length body in relation to the government. It awards grants to artists and acts as a standing expert and advisory body to the Ministry of Education in matters relating to the planning and implementation of arts policies. In 1967, the Promotion of the Arts Act created a number of regional arts councils for each of the eleven provinces in Finland, excluding the autonomous province of Åland.

The Arts Council of Finland and the national and regional arts councils provide an important link between artists, regional interests and the Ministry of Education in dealing with the arts and culture. This link is mediated by the system of professional associations and organizations of artists, cultural workers and cultural institutions.

Regional level

Regional administration consists of state regional administration and joint municipal regional administration.

The nineteen regional arts councils maintain an autonomous decision-making position vis-a-vis the provincial governments. They are free to develop, promote and support arts and cultural policies in their respective provinces. However, they are obliged to operate within the limits of the appropriations they receive from the state arts budget.

The members of the regional arts councils are nominated for a period of three years by the provincial government. The objective of the regional arts councils is to promote cultural development and support the arts at the regional level. They award grants to artists in their respective regions and allocate state subsidies to regional cultural organizations and associations. They also administer the system of "guiding regional artists", which allows the regional councils to employ a maximum of four artists annually to stimulate cultural life in the regions.

The Regional Arts Councils do not financially support regional cultural institutions, theatres, orchestras, or art museums. These institutions are maintained by the municipalities in which they are situated and receive additional state subsidies for regional functions.

The Employment and Business Development Centres (15) and Environment Centres (13) have now a greater role in regional development and often initiate projects with important cultural policy implications.

Local level

Since the first years of independence, Finland has had an extensive and effective system of municipal government. There are four hundred and fifty-two (452) municipalities in Finland. The central government subsidizes or transfers grants-in-aid to municipal cultural institutions (theatres, orchestras, public libraries, museums, adult education centres), as well as to non-institutional cultural activities. This system of central government subsidy for non-institutional cultural activities at the local level was introduced in 1980 by the Cultural Activities Act. The majority of municipal cultural boards were established following the adoption of this act.

At the beginning of 1993, the Municipal Cultural Activities Act was replaced by a new act requiring a more general framework. Under this new act, municipalities are under an obligation to promote, support and organize cultural activities, and to provide basic education in the arts.

In conjunction with the Act of 1993, the central government introduced a new overall system of grants for municipalities to strengthen their autonomy, allowing them full control over the allocation of funds provided by the state. The municipalities may use their state funding either to cover running costs or to start up new projects. The amounts received from the state are calculated according to a set of principles based on key ratios describing the scope of the activities involved, including the following: number of pupils, number of hours of teaching, population of the municipality, number of people employed by an institution, etc.

This reform has led to a dramatic increase in state funding for cultural institutions at the local level. Compared with the former practice of paying discretionary subsidies to the municipalities, local cultural institutions are now protected by the law. For example, in 1993, 102 museums, 53 theatres and 24 orchestras received state grants according to the new legislation, which amounted to approximately 89.9 million FIM for museums, 153 million FIM for theatres, and 59 million FIM for orchestras - an estimated increase of 20 per cent on 1992.

2.2  Facilities and institutions



3.1  Financing of cultural activities

Although the information presented in the following Figure has been drawn from different sources, which are not totally reliable, it still provides an overall illustration of the joint effects of the 1991-1993 recession and parallel reforms of the state subsidy system on the total public expenditure and the relative share of the state and municipalities thereof.

Figure 1 Public expenditures and public cultural expenditures (in billion FIM, current costs) in Finland in 1992-1996

Public expenditures by the tier of government






a)     Central government (state) expenditure, total






b)    Aggregate expenditure of municipalities, total






c)     State transfer to municipalities, total






d)    Public expenditure (state and municipality)






e)     Central government (state) expenditure on the arts and culture






f)      State transfers to subside municipal cultural institutions and activities






g)    Municipal expenditure on the arts and culture (state subsidies excluded)






h)    Total public expenditure (state and municipalities) on the arts and culture






i)      Share of state cultural expenditure of the total state expenditure (e/a) in %






j)      Share of total public cultural expenditure of the total public expenditure (h/d) in per cent






k)     State cultural expenditure/total public cultural expenditure (e/h) in per cent






Source: Compendium of Basic Facts and Trends on Cultural Policy: 47 European Profiles; "0-Numbers" for a future Compendium, Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 1998, p. 35.

In 1995, the state cultural budget totalled 1.459 million FIM. Activities supported by this cultural budget include not only the arts, cultural heritage, and libraries, but also youth and sports. In 1993, the state arts budget was 844 million FIM, of which 35 million FIM was given to individual artists in the form of grants and an estimated 14 million FIM to the public lending remunerations. Expenditures for arts education and training are not included in the cultural or arts budget and are not represented in the figure given here.

The greater part of the central government arts budget is allocated in the form of state grants to national, regional and municipal cultural institutions. A large portion of the revenues are generated by the national lottery, however, the budget is also dependent upon public taxes. Six hundred and sixty (660) million FIM of the arts budget was raised from lottery funds in 1993. At present, about 70 per cent of the state expenditure on the arts and culture is covered by the profits from the state run lotteries, football pools and sports betting.

Policies in direct support of artists were established during the 1960's. The system of artists' grants is based on the Artists' Grants Act of 1969 allocating a tax-free flat monthly sum to artists. The nine national arts councils (architecture, cinema, crafts and design, dance, literature, music, photography, theatre, and the visual arts) are responsible for allocating short-term grants for periods of 1, 3, or 5 years, and the Ministry of Education is responsible for long-term grants of 15 years. These long-term grants are distributed according to the recommendation of the Arts Council of Finland. The majority of one-year grants, which can also be distributed as half-year grants, are allocated primarily to young artists, and the majority of 15-year grants to artists over 40 years of age with a meritorious career. Each year there are 112 one-year, 41 three-year, 22 five-year and 10 fifteen-year grants. Approximately 480 artists are continually supported by artist grants each year, an estimated 3 per cent of the total number of artists in the country.

In 1997, altogether 127 million FIM was granted to artists in form of grants, pensions, project grants, library compensation grants.

This system of artist grants is complemented by a system of project grants. A sum equivalent to 50 artists' grants is allocated each year as project grants for materials, equipment, training courses, gallery and studio rentals, etc. Additionally, a small sum is also allocated as travel grants to artists.

Upon the nomination by the Arts Council, the President of Finland appoints an "Artist Professor", either for a five-year term or permanently, to lecture and/or give expert advice. The appointed candidate must be an outstanding and accomplished artist. The appointees receive a monthly salary, which is considered as taxable income.

A series of grants are awarded to writers and translators, under the 1961 Library Compensation Act, as compensation for the public lending of authors' works, amounting to ten per cent of the total sum expended on books by public libraries.

State prizes are annually awarded to a number of artists representing different art disciplines.

Public support is available for "high quality productions", including films, photographic art books, and crafts and design. National crafts and design exhibitions are subsidized, as well as experimental dance projects.

Purchases of works of art for public buildings are made by the National Committee for the Purchase of Works of Art.

The Finnish cultural policy does not provide many indirect support measures for artists. There are currently no special taxation regulations for artists. However, artists are able to apply for compensation as a result of their income fluctuations. The legislation permits levelling-out procedures/income averaging, considering the income from the production and sale of the artist's own works on a case by case basis. Self-employed artists pay income tax based on the income of the previous year, and artists as employees pay taxes according to their wages. Professional expenses are deductible from income for tax purposes for all taxpayers. Apart from an annual supplementary pension scheme offering an estimated 900 artists an additional source of annual income, there does not exist any special social security system for artists.

Some negative side-effects of the recession period are now present: earlier, the profits from the state lotto were used to discretionary state subsidies and to finance special programmes and projects. During the period of recession, these funds have been used to finance statutory state subsidies to municipal cultural institutions. Consequently, at present the state lacks budget for new programmes and projects.

Besides, despite the recession, the state has invested a lot for building new infrastructure for national cultural institutions. This has, naturally, generated need for additional financing for activities in these new buildings which the state has not been able to provide for. Therefore, the institutions were forced to find a way to finance themselves alone.

It is visible today that public financing of the arts and culture is returning to normal. For example, total share of the state budget assigned to the Ministry of Education was as follows: in 1995 13.7 per cent, in 1996 13.6 per cent, in 1997 13.3 per cent and in 1998 13.8 per cent. The share financed from the profits of the national lotto, football pools and sports betting has increased from 52 per cent in 1995 to 69 per cent in 1998. In 1996 and 1997 it was the same, 56 per cent. While state subsidies to municipalities and libraries have constantly been decreasing since 1995, those to museums, theatres and orchestras and non-institutional municipal activities have been increasing. Discretionary support of the arts and culture in 1998 has been increased for 10 per cent since 1997.

The Finnish membership in the EU has also contributed to new possibilities for cultural projects on regional and local levels.

3.2  Legislation

The 1967 Promotion of the Arts Act defined the relative responsibilities of different national and regional expert bodies promoting the arts and culture in Finland. The Municipal Cultural Activities Act (1980) defined the municipalities' responsibility at the local level for the promotion of cultural activities. The 1993 legislation gives more autonomy to the municipalities in organizing their cultural activities. According to this legislation, the municipalities are allowed to decide independently how to allocate the share of funding contributed by the state. The new legislation also supports libraries, museums, theatres, orchestras, music schools, and basic education in the arts.

The central legislation related to cultural policy and public administration of the arts and culture in Finland consists of the following pieces:

Cultural and arts administration: Decree on Ministry of Education (136/90, amended 259/91), Promotion of the Arts Act (328/67, amen. 712/91), National Board of Antiquities Act (31/72), Act on National Art Museum (185/90), Finnish Film Archives Act (891/78), Act on National Board for Education (182/91), Act on the Library for the Visually Handicapped (11/78).

Financing the arts, promoting of the arts and creativity: Artists Grants Act (734/69, amended 143/95), Act on Grants and Subsidies for Authors and Translators (236/61, amended 1272/94), Act on State Guarantees for Art Exhibitions (411/86, amended 336/94), Act on Financing Education and Culture (705/92, amended 1456/94), Act on State Subsidies to Municipalities (688/92, amended 1313/93), Statute Pertaining to the Use of Revenues from Lottery, Lotto and Football Pools (725/82).

Taxation: Act on Value Added Tax (1501/93).

Copy and neighbouring rights: Copyright Act (404/61, amended 446/95).

Municipal cultural services: Municipal Cultural Activities Act (728/92, amended 1273/94), Museums Act (729/92), Theatres and Orchestras Act (730/92), Public Libraries Act (235/86, amended 725/92).

Adult education: Act on State Subsidies for Study Circle Centres (1215/93), Act on State Subsidies for Folk High Schools (1218/93), Act on Support for Vocational Correspondence Courses and Studies (617/80), Act on Adult Education Centres (722/92), Statute on Adult Education Centres (386/63, amended 141/91).

Arts education and training: Higher Education Development Act (1052/86), Act on University for Arts and Design (52/73), Act on Sibelius Academy (1068/79), Act on Academy of Fine Arts (175/85), Act on Theatre Academy (87/79), Act on Basic Education in the Arts (424/92, amend. 732/92), Decree on Schools for Craft and Design Studies (495/87, amended 155/91), Decree on Schools for Visual Arts and Media Studies (147/89, amended 154/91), Act on Music Schools and Conservatories (723/92).

Culture industries: Act on Organization of National Broadcasting (517/88), Act on the Finnish Broadcasting Company (1380/93), National Telecommunications Act (183/87), Act on Cable Transmission (307/87, amend. 121 A/92), Decree on Radio Devices (859/92), Film Censorship Act (299/65), Film Censorship Procedures Act (300/65), Act on the Inspection of Video and Other Audio-visual Programmes (697/87).

Cultural heritage: Museums Act (729/92), Act on Archaeological Remains (295/63), Building Act (370/58), Protection of Buildings Act (60/85), Act on the Permit of the Exportation of Objects of Cultural Value (445/78), Administration of Suomenlinna Act (1145/88).

International cultural cooperation: Decree on the Constitution of UNESCO (549/56, amended 426/67), Decree on the National Commission for UNESCO (163/66), Decree on the Statute of the Council of Europe (410/89), Decree on the European Cultural Convention (98/70), Decree on the Nordic Cultural Treaty (909/71), Decree on the Nordic Cultural Fund (199/77).

Minorities: Sami Language Act (516/91), Statute on Sami Council (988/90).

In Finland, copyright falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. The present Copyright Act was enacted in 1961 and has been amended several times, most recently in 1995 in accordance with the requirements of the EEA (European Economic Area) Treaty.

The emergence of new copyright and neighbouring rights organizations in recent years has increased the financial resources of particular sectors in the arts, including music, cinema and video. These revenues have contributed to the establishment of new centres and foundations in support of artistic production and training of artists.

There have been reforms for updating the legislation to correspond to the changing context because of the new technologies. The reforms of the copyright and neighbouring rights legislation are good examples.

There is a need for a reform of public budgeting and accounting systems to allow a better use of sponsorship money.


The planning and implementation of arts policies is carried out via a system of sectorially organized national arts councils. The administrative classification of arts and culture, according to this council system, is not necessarily reflected in this section. Cultural heritage and libraries are outside the structure of the national councils' area of expertise. In this context, cinema is defined as a cultural industry, though generally seen as one policy sector among the different art forms with its own national council.

4.1  Cultural heritage

Traditionally, the Ministry of Education has been responsible for material and non-material cultural heritage. Since 1985 the Ministry of the Environment has assumed responsibility for environmental protection and nature conservation. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in establishing educational programmes examining the environment from a cultural perspective.

The National Board of Antiquities is an advisory and expert body for the Ministry of Education. It is responsible for material cultural heritage including the following: preservation, restoration, conservation, archaeology, monuments, sites, buildings, artefacts, and cultural landscapes. The Board also maintains the National Museum of Finland.

The Finnish Museum Asso­ciati­on was established in 1923 as an interest body for museums. There are approximately 900 museums in Finland, of which 15 per cent are art museums. Fifty per cent of the museums are administered by municipalities, 4 per cent by the state, and 46 per cent by private foundations. According to the 1992 Museums Act, 102 museums have been specifically identified as warranting state subsidies; however, other museums are also eligible for support. There is a new emphasis being placed on museums as essential tools in the development of regional and local culture.

The National Museum, the National Art Gallery, and the Finnish Museum of Natural History are central national museums receiving support directly from the state budget. In addition, five museums have been nominated as "special" national museums, including the museums of handicrafts, sports, technology, applied arts, and architecture. Their special status entitles them to an additional 10 per cent of support from the state. There are 20 provincial museums and 15 regional museums also receiving an additional 10 per cent of state support, in line with the new emphasis placed on decentralized policies and state support for the municipalities.

In 1991, the Fortress of Suomenlinna and the Rauma Old Town were placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Finland also participates in the work of other UNESCO bodies, including non-governmental organizations such as the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

The non-material cultural heritage of Finland is strongly rooted in the oral folk culture as recorded by Elias Lönnrot in the national epic Kalevala. Kalevala is a collection of traditional stories and poems, recorded in the early nineteenth century and serving as an essential component in creating a sense of national identity amongst the Finnish people. Today, the Kalevala Society maintains and promotes the Finnish folk tradition. Finland was an active participant in the UNESCO World Decade for Cultural Development project "Oral Epics along the Silk Roads", which is part of the "Integral Study of the Silk Roads: Roads of Dialogue" programme.

The Finnish Literature Society, established in 1831, promotes and conducts research into Finnish folk traditions, literature and Finno-Ugric languages. It maintains Folklore Archives, Literature Archives, the Finnish Literature Information Centre and Library.

The Society for the Promotion of Lapp Culture promotes and safeguards the Sámi culture.

In 1940 the Karelia society was established to promote and safeguard Karelian culture.

Internationally recognized, Finnish architecture is considered an art form meriting its own national council within the Finnish Arts Council system. The National Council for Architecture is responsible for providing advice on the administration of the portion of the state arts budget allocated for architecture. The Museum of Finnish Architecture receives the largest part of the state arts budget for architecture. The National Council awards individual grants to architects.

The Museum of Finnish Architecture promotes and safeguards Finnish architecture, maintains a library and archive, and organizes exhibitions. The Society of Architecture is jointly organized for architects and art historians, and it acts as the national bureau for the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). The purpose of the Society is to promote architecture and environmental culture. There are two Universities of Technology, and one university (Oulu) offering degree programmes in architecture.

4.2  Cultural education and training


4.3  Performing arts

The first professional theatre, the Swedish‑speaking theatre "Svenska Teatern i Helsingfors", was established in 1866. Shortly after, in 1872, the Finnish National Theatre was built in Helsinki. The National Opera, the National Theatre, the Swedish-speaking Theatre, and the TTT Theatre in Tampere receive a high proportion of the state arts budget allocated to professional theatres in the form of special grants-in-aid. Additionally there are 31 professional theatres, 15 theatre groups, 3 Swedish‑speaking theatres and 2 Swedish‑speaking theatre groups receiving state grants.

The dance sector experienced a significant growth during the 1980's, including the establishment of both profes­sional and amateur dance groups and dance education and training for children. The National Council for Dance was esta­blished in 1983, as well as the Department for Dance in the Theatre Academy. Approximately 4.0 million FIM of the state arts budget was allocated for dance in 1993, exclusive of subsidies provided for professional dance theatres. These theatres are financed from the theatre budget mentioned above according to the 1992 Theatres and Orchestras Act. Individual artists received an estimated 1.6 million FIM from the state arts budget allocated for dance in 1993. There are nine professional dance theatres and approximately 100 private dance schools in addition to the National Ballet (financed from the state arts budget for the opera) and the National Ballet school.

There are over 1,000 active amateur theatre companies in Finland, which average over 10,000 performances annually. Amateur theatres are organized under six national umbrella associations, the largest of which are the Finnish Amateur Theatre Association, the TNL-Theatre Association, and the Association of Swedish Youth.

The Theatre Museum, founded in 1962, is responsible for collecting material from the Finnish stage, promoting the theatre through information exchanges, and maintaining an archive. It also conducts research. The Theatre Academy, originally the Theatre School founded in 1943, received the university level status in 1979. The Academy offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in acting, dramaturgy, sound and lighting design, and dance.

4.4  Visual and fine arts

The fine arts have traditionally been defined to include painting, sculpting and graphic arts. This definition has been expanded to include performan­ce, installation, environmental and video arts.

The Finnish National Gallery maintains the Museums of Finnish Art, of Foreign Art, of Contemporary Art, and the Central Arts Archives. The Gallery receives funding directly from the state budget. In 1993, it received 26.9 million FIM, of which 2.7 million FIM was reserved for new art purchases. The fund designated for grants to individual artists is approximately 10 million FIM each year, awarded by the National Council for Visual Arts.

The Academy of Fine Arts was established in 1848, offering degrees in Painting, Sculpting, Print Making (including graphic arts), and Time and Space Studies (including audio-visual arts). The Academy also offers workshops in photography, performance and bio art. There are approximately 80 art schools for children in Finland.

There are five professional organizations for visual artists, which distribute support received from the state for art exhibitions. Private galleries also play an important role, and in Helsinki alone, there are some forty galleries presenting works of visual arts. 

Crafts and design have a long tradition in Finland and are a distinct and recognized feature of Finnish culture. The National Council for Crafts and Design was established in 1968. In terms of the state arts budget, crafts and design receive only a small share of funding. Industrial design receives additional state support outside of the arts budget. The balance of the budget is reserved for craft and design organizations.

Design Forum Finland, formerly the Finnish Society for Crafts and Design, was established in 1875 to promote Finnish design, and the Museum of Applied Art was built in 1873. The University of Arts and Design, formerly the University of Industrial Arts, offers degrees and postgraduate courses in graphic design, ceramic and glass design, interior architecture, furniture design, textile design, industrial design, clothing and fashion design, and crafts.

Finnish photography celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1992. However, it was not until the 1970's that photography was officially recognized by the state as an independent art form, through the establishment of the National Council for Photographic Art. The Photographic Museum of Finland receives the largest share of the state arts budget for photography. Besides organizing exhibitions, the museum maintains an archive and a library, and conducts research.

Several regional photographic centres were established in the late 1980's to arrange exhibitions and events, courses and workshops, and to run galleries. The University of Arts and Design, Helsinki, offers a degree in photographic arts. There are several professional organizations in the field of photography, including the Central Association of Photographic Organizations (FINNFOTO), which has an estimated 8,700 individual members.

4.5  Literature and literary production

Each year approximately 1,500 fiction titles and 8,000 non-fiction texts are published. The relative number of newspapers and journals published in Finland is among the highest in the world. Book purchases, library lending and reading habits are also at a high level.

Seventy-five per cent of the state arts budget for literature goes directly to individual writers. The amount allocated for public lending rights varies annually depending on the levels of library purchases.

Little state support is given for the promotion of publishing and distribution. Financing is, however, made available to libraries for the purchase of "high quality" literature otherwise not widely distributed. The translation of Finnish literature into other languages is also supported by the state.

Public libraries, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, are owned by municipalities and maintained with the help of state grants. The state's share of funding for municipality libraries was 530 million FIM in 1997. Book loans are free of charge under the Public Libraries Act. There are approximately one thousand public libraries in Finland.

4.6  Music

Music receives the largest share of state support for the arts. The way largest share of the state support for music goes to the opera. The state subsidy for orchestras increased dramatically in early nineties.

Finland has a strong music education programme, which contributes to the extraordinary level of musical competence throughout the country. There are approximately 140 music schools and institutions and eleven conservatories in Finland, that receive state funding over and above the already mentioned budget allocated to music. The Sibelius Academy of Music, founded in 1882, offers university level music training and education.

The number of orchestras in Finland is comparatively high considering the size of its population. Finnish orchestras operate under contract with the municipalities and therefore, musicians are considered as civil servants. The main symphony orchestras are the Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Helsinki City Orchestra, in addition to which there are some thirty smaller orchestras.

Opera is a popular art form in Finland. In 1993, a new opera house was built for the Finnish National Opera, originally established in 1911. The Savonlinna Opera Festival, held in the courtyard of a 500-year old castle, is one of the oldest and most famous music festivals in Finland. There are also several other music festivals in Finland, particularly in the summertime.


Cultural industries, in this context, are subdivided into four sectors, including the mass media (radio, TV and newspapers), cinema and video, publishing (books and periodicals), and sound recording. The Ministry of Transport and Communications legislates radio, television and newspaper policies, while cinema, video and book publishing belong under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.

At the beginning of the century, Finland had a very strong publishing industry. Technological developments taking place in Western Europe, particularly in cinematography, were introduced in Finland at the turn of the century (June 1896), only six months after the Lumière brothers' premiere in Paris. Television broadcasting began on a commercial basis in 1956, and the government-owned Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) began its broadcasts in 1957.

Cultural industries as a whole account for approximately three per cent of Finland's GNP. Although rapid progress has been made in the development of the electronic media (radio and television), the print media (newspapers, magazines, books, advertising) maintain their dominant status, accounting for approximately three quarters of the sector's turnover.

5.1  Book publishing

Until the beginning of the 1980's, Finland had the highest per capita production of books in the world. After newspaper and periodical publishing and national broadcasting, book publishing is the third largest cultural industry in Finland. Approximately 10,000 titles are published each year, of which 85 to 90 per cent are non-fiction.

The book market is dominated by major and medium-sized general interest publishers. In recent years, smaller publishers specializing in certain types of literature have been able to increase their market shares. Book publishing companies are represented by the Finnish Book Publishers' Association, which has 62 members. In addition, there are 500-600 "societies" which do not belong to this association but are nevertheless active in the publishing industry. The Book Publishers' Association is also responsible for allocating a small fund, which the state makes available for the promotion of publishing and distribution of books, which have small print-runs and little commercial value.

The total number of Finnish periodicals, general interest magazines and academic journals is about 2,500.

5.2  Press

The publishing industry in Finland has maintained its tradition as a strong sector, with an estimated total of 242 newspapers published in 1992. Newspapers account for one third of the total turnover of the print media sector.

5.3  Broadcasting and sound recording industry

Paralleling the trend in arts and cultural policy towards decentralization, responsibility for Finnish broadcasting has shifted to the regional and local levels. Private local radio, television and cable stations play a major role in providing alternative programming for Finnish audiences.

The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) is responsible for radio broadcasting at the national level. There are four nation-wide channels, three of which offer Finnish programming and one offering Swedish language programming. In addition, there is regional level programming, including programmes in the Sámi language. The first private local radio stations were established in 1985.

Nation-wide television services, through three terrestrial distribution networks, are provided by the state-owned Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) and the commercial MTV Group. The MTV Group is made up of two smaller companies, MTV Finland and Channel Three Finland. The Finnish Broadcasting Company's operation is based on a fixed-term operating licence issued by the Council of State. In 1994, the terms and conditions under which the YLE operates were legislated for the first time with the Broadcasting Act. Following this Act, the MTV Group, which has been operating under a licence issued by the YLE, was given a new license issued by the Council of State.

The YLE is the dominant producer of Finnish television programmes, representing 70-80 per cent of the overall production market in the country. Domestic productions account for some 54 per cent of the YLE's programming. Forty per cent of foreign programmes come from Britain and the USA.  According to the 1993 act, the YLE is obliged to offer services in Swedish, Sámi and other minority languages, and to support domestic culture through production and programming.

The penetration of cable TV networks increased rapidly throug­hout Finland during the 1980's. It is estimated that there were fewer than 70,000 households with cable TV in 1980. In 1995, the figure was approximately 2.201,000, representing over one third of the Finnish households. Despite the rapid increase of cable television in the early 1990's, it is considered relatively insignificant in comparison with the growth of television and radio.

Cable transmission licences are issued by the government. Cable networks are obligated by the state, through prescribed content quotas, to carry a certain proportion of domestic productions. Domestic programming quotas range from 20 to 25 per cent, depending on the size of the company. The state has also imposed advertising quotas, which stipulate that commercials may not occupy more than 11 per cent of programming time.

Sound recording has the second largest share of the cultural industries market. Approximately 3.0 records per capita are sold annually. Throughout the 1980's, there was a significant growth in the sound recording industry as a result of the introduction of compact discs.

5.4  Cinema and film industry

The greater part of the Finnish film production is subsidized by the state. The Finnish Film Foundation, the national organization responsible for the promotion of Finnish film production and distribution, distributes grants allocated by the Ministry of Education. Support from the Finnish Film Foundation represents 50-60 per cent of most feature film budgets.

AVEK, the Promotion Centre for Audio-visual Culture in Finland, established in 1987, promotes Finnish cinema, video and television, in particular the production and distribution of documentary and short films and coproductions. The bulk of the total support provided by AVEK was generated by blank tape levies.

The National Council for Cinema distributes grants and awards to individual artists, supports "high quality" films, and acts as an advisory body to the Ministry of Education on matters relating to film, including fifteen-year grants to artists and artists' pensions. The Council also advises the Finnish Arts Council on the allocation of project grants.

The Finnish Film Archives is the national film archive and museum. In addition, it also runs its own film theatre and conducts research. The University of Arts and Design in Helsinki offers degrees in film. Cinema theatres are located mainly in urban centres. There are also film festivals, among which the most important are the Tampere International Short Film Festival, the Midninght Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä (Northern Finland), and the Oulu International Children's Film Festival.

In 1995 there were 8 film production companies, which shows a great decrease beginning from 1992 when there were 20 film production companies in Finland.

The video market in Finland did not begin to flourish until the early 1980's. Between 1982 and 1984, rental and sales figures grew from 30 million FIM to 150 million FIM. The Finnish video market is primarily dominated by American films, with the market share of over 60 per cent. State support for this industry is minimal. Distribution channels are controlled by a few large companies, including Europa Vision (43 per cent), Fazer Video (14 per cent) and Esselte Video (14 per cent). Compared with the other Nordic countries the level of video rentals is relatively low. Over a half of the households in Finland which have television sets also have video recorders. Today, video recorders are most commonly used for "time-shift" programming.


Cultural development in Finland has historically been based on the model of the social welfare state. Today this approach is receiving fierce criticism, directed particularly against administered or state subsidized art and cultural activities. Consequently, a new discourse was introduced, including ideas such as privatization, decentralization and debureaucratization. The system of art councils, arm’s length bodies of the Ministry of Education (with the main function of the safeguarding the autonomy of the arts) and the independent role of the municipalities in public cultural policy decision-making and administration are solid pillars of decentralization. Still, the new regional bodies such as regional councils, employment and business development centres and environment centres have proved to be working with greater flexibility than arts councils and municipal cultural administration. State support for the arts has traditionally taken form of grants and awards to cultural institutions and individual grants to artists. There is a demand for increased support for production in the form of project grants as opposed to individual subsidies.

As a member of UNESCO, Finland participated in the World Decade for Cultural Development. Maintaining the objectives of this programme, Finnish cultural policy makers must have ensured that a cultural dimension was inserted into every component of society, not to be treated as an isolated sector. As the composition of European society becomes increasingly multicultural, and paralleling European efforts to ensure the interpretation of human rights in cultural policies, Finland is re-examining its cultural policy strategies.

Like most other European countries, Finland is also re-examining its cultural policies relying on the advice and expertise of a variety of actors, including artists, artists' organizations, policy makers and researchers. Finland completed the Council of Europe's country review of cultural policies following the completion of the national reports by France, Sweden, Austria, and the Netherlands. One of the aims of this programme is to collect comparative information and data in order to provide a comprehensive source of information that would help in the search for new solutions for all aspects of the arts and culture.

In the spirit of information and research exchange, the Research and Information Unit of the Arts Council of Finland is a founding member of CIRCLE (Cultural Information Research Centre Liaison in Europe), one of the main actors in the development of new alternatives for cultural policy makers in Eastern and Western Europe. Over the years, the Research and Information Unit has played an active role in the fulfilment of CIRCLE's research objectives on key issues, such as professional arts management training, employment in the arts, participation in cultural life, impact of the European Community's policies on the arts, and, most recently, human rights and cultural policies. In 1989, the Research and Information Unit hosted the first meeting of the "Nordic Circle", bringing together all Nordic countries to discuss cultural policy research and information exchange.

Cultural participation

The most popular and traditional pastimes are reading, writing, playing a musical instrument, and painting. In the past ten years, art museums and exhibitions have attracted the largest numbers of visitors. It is estimated that forty-four per cent of the population over ten years old have visited an art museum or exhibition. Although theatre remains a popular cultural activity, attendance figures have declined slightly in recent years. Women between the ages of 40 and 49 compose the majority of opera and music festival audiences.

As attendance declines in the performing arts, reading habits and visits to the public library remain the most popular forms of cultural participation in Finland. Seventy-five per cent of Finns read at least one book in six months, and 95 per cent read newspapers on a daily basis.

The growing popularity of the electronic media in Finland attracts the general population to listen and watch: an average Finn listens to 1 hour and 48 minutes of radio and 13 minutes of phonogram music per day, and watches 2 hours and 20 minutes of television and 12 minutes of video recordings per day. Of all the time spent amongst the various electronic media, books, newspapers, and periodicals, the share of time spent watching television is the greatest.

Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 make up the largest group of cinema goers. It is estimated that 80 per cent of them visited the cinema during the first half of 1991. Despite this trend, cinema attendance shows a constant decline. In 1989, there were 7.24 million visits to the cinema and in 1995 only 5.30 million visits. According to these numbers, Finland is grouped among countries that record the biggest fall of the cinema admissions (-5.58 per cent 1995/1994). However, it is still around 40 per cent of the population that attend the cinema theatres.


Traditionally, Finnish international cultural cooperation has been based on bilateral and multilateral agreements implemented by the Department for International Affairs of the Ministry of Education. Multilateral agreements include cooperation with the OECD, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe, as well as cooperation within the framework of other United Nations' organizations. Finland has concluded several cultural agreements and has regular cultural exchanges with some 40 countries. There are over eighty Friendship Societies, which promote cultural exchanges with Finland. Membership in EFTA has enabled Finland to participate in the EC's MEDIA '95 programme. Finland is a member of the European Union since 1995. It has also developed informal cultural relations with the Central and Eastern European countries, in particular with Finland's neighbouring regions including Russia and the Baltic States. Following the political changes in Europe in 1989, cultural cooperation with Russia and the Baltic States has increased, especially on the grass-root level, and has been further strengthened by informal networks of artists and cultural institutions.

Cultural cooperation on the Nordic level was re-empasized in 1971 by the Nordic Cultural Convention for cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture. The realization of this cooperation agreement concluded by the five Nordic countries is facilitated by the creation of several coordinating bodies, for example, the Nordic Council of Ministers (culture and media, education and research), the Committee of Senior Officials for Nordic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation, the Permanent Secretariat, and the Steering Group for Nordic Cultural Projects Information Abroad. Joint institutes and projects are financed from the Nordic cultural budget.

Responsibilities of the Ministry of Education tend to be shared with the competent departments, institutions, universities and NGOs.

The Department for International Affairs only coordinates functions and is responsible for participation in international programmes (Nordic cooperation, UNESCO, Council of Europe, EU), for student exchanges and Finnish language teaching abroad and for contacts with Finns living abroad.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of political guidelines and international agreements, including cultural cooperation. The Department for Press and Cultural Affairs within this Ministry produces and disseminates information promoting the knowledge of Finnish politics, economy and culture abroad.

The Finnish Institutes of Culture and Science founded upon the initiative of public bodies or private organizations, exist in London, Tallinn, Berlin, Antwerp, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Paris, Athens and Rome.


8.1  Ministries, authorities and academies

Academy of Fine Arts
Yrjönkatu 18
00120 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 643 501
Fax +358 0 604 542

Arts Council of Finland
Taiteen keskustoimikunta
Mariankatu 5
P.O. Box 293
00171 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 134 171
Fax +358 0 174 575

Finnish National Commission for UNESCO
Suomen UNESCO-toimikunta
Ministry of Education
Meritullinkatu 10
P.O. Box 293
00171 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 134 171
Fax +358 0 134 17586

Ministry of Education
Meritullinkatu 10
P.O. Box 293
00171 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 134 171
Fax +358 0 176 191

Department of Culture
Fax +358 0 134 17590

Department of Higher Education and Research
Fax +358 0 656 765

Department for International Affairs
Fax +358 0 134 17586

School Department
Fax +358 0 134 17584

Department for Sport and Youth Affairs
Fax +358 0 134 17584

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
P.O. Box 176
00161 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 134 151

Department for Press and Cultural Affairs
Kanavakatu 3 C
P.O. Box 103
00161 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 134 151
Fax +358 0 1341 5840

National Arts Councils
P.O. Box 293
00171 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 134 171
Fax +358 0 174 575

Theatre Academy
Sturenkatu 4
P.O. Box 148
00511 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 773 931
Fax +358 0 7739 200

Sibelius Academy
Sibelius Akatemia
Döbelninkatu 2
P.O. Box 86
00251 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 405 441
Fax +358 0 405 4600

University of Arts and Design
Taideteollinen korkeakoulu
Hämeentie 135 C
00560 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 75631
Fax +358 0 756 3223

8.2  Central cultural institutions

AVEK - Promotion Centre for Audio-Visual Culture
Audiovisuaalisen viestintäkulttuurin edistämiskeskus
Hietaniemenkatu 2
00100 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 406 197
Fax +358 0 493 579

Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE
Suomen Yleisradio
Radiokatu 5
P.O. Box 10
00241 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 14 801
Fax +358 0 1480 3215

Finnish Literature Information Centre
Suomen kirjallisuuden tiedotuskeskus
Mariankatu 7 A
00170 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 131 231
Fax +358 0 656 380

Finnish Music Information Centre
Suomalaisen musiikin tiedotuskeskus
Runeberginkatu 15 A 1
00100 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 409 707
Fax +358 0 409 6

Museum of Finnish Architecture
Suomen rakennustaiteen museo
Kasarmikatu 24
00130 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 661 918
Fax +358 0 662 573

Museum of Applied Art
Korkeavuorenkatu 23 A
00130 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 174 455
Fax +358 0 626 733

Finnish National Theatre
Suomen Kansallisooppera
Läntinen teatterikuja 1 B
00100 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 171 826
Fax +358 0 171 720

Finnish National Gallery
Valtion taidemuseo
Kaivokatu 2-4
00100 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 173 361
Fax +358 0 1733 6259

8.3  Associations

Finnish Museums Association
Suomen museoliitto
Annankatu 16 B 50
00120 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 649 001
Fax +358 0 608 330

Society of Architecture
Rakennustaiteen seura
c/o Sari Viertiö
Päivölänkatu 64 B
00730 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 346 2139

Finnish Literature Society
Suomen kirjallisuuden seura
Hallituskatu 1
P.O. Box 259
00171 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 131 231
Fax +358 0 131 23220

Central Association of Finnish Theatre
Suomen teatterijärjestöjen keskusliitto
Meritullinkatu 33
00170 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 1357 861
Fax +358 0 1355 522

Finnish Film Foundation
Suomen elokuvasäätiö
Kanavakatu 12 K 13
00160 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 177 727
Fax +358 0 177 113

Finnish Book Publishers' Association
Suomen Kustannusyhdistys
Merimiehenkatu 12 A 6
00150 Helsinki
Tel. +358 0 179 135
Fax +358 0 622 1143


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Compendium of Basic Facts and Trends on Cultural Policy: 47 European Country profiles; “0-Number” for a future Compendium. Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 1998, pp. 31-41.

Cultural Policy and Cultural Administration in Europe: 42 outlines. Vienna, Österreichische Kulturdokumentation, Internationales Archiv für Kulturanalysen, 1996, pp. 59-62.

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Rainesalo, Pirko; Karjalainen, Tuulikki & Irjala, Auli. Finland. The national reports from the Ars Baltica seminar “The Cultural Responsibility of the State”. Stockholm, Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs, 1995, pp. 17-26.

Statistical Yearbook 97: cinema, television, video and new media in Europe. Strasbourg, European Audiovisual Observatory, 1996.

World Decade for Cultural Development. 1988/1997 the Finnish National Plan of Action. The National Committee for the Cultural Decade. Helsinki, Publications of the Finnish National Commission for UNESCO No. 50. University Press, 1990.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1999. Mahwah, New Jersey, World Almanac Books, 1999.

* This monograph is a shorter version of the original paper written by (c) Arts Council of Finland, Research and Information Unit, 1993. It has been revised by Daniela Angelina Jelincic, Culturelink, IMO in 1999.