Unexpected Gifts of Art
The 2020 holidays will be different for many Helsinki residents, since it will not be possible to meet family and friends in the same way as in previous years. For some, loneliness has become the norm. For others, Christmas is a time filled with work and activity helping others.
The City of Helsinki Culture and Leisure Division, in cooperation with the Social Services and Health Care Division, the Finnish Federation of Settlement Houses and the Helsinki Parish Union, will be organising a Gift of Art holiday campaign, which aims to bring Christmas cheer to seniors, lonely people, unemployed and financially disadvantaged persons, and care and service workers who will be working through the holidays.
The Gift of Art concept was introduced during last summer’s Helsinki Festival, which provided local residents with the opportunity to surprise others with gifts of art. This time, the gift recipients will be chosen by the City of Helsinki Department of Social Services and Health Care, the Finnish Federation of Settlement Houses, and the Helsinki Parish Union. Gifts of Art are delivered to individual home care clients, clients of the Finnish Federation of Settlement Houses and the Helsink Parish Unioin, and to gardens of senior centres and care homes. In addition to this, care workers who are on duty at Christmas will be receiving a virtual musical greeting and demonstration of thanks.
The season and coronavirus restrictions impose a range of challenges to the distribution of Gifts of Art this holiday season. The gifts will be provided outdoors in accordance with official guidelines and safe distances. Some twenty artists will be participating, the majority of whom are musicians. Sign-language artists are also involved.
The gift is always a surprise to the recipient. At each location, the gift is accepted by someone (nurse, staff member, recipient’s family member, etc.) who can ensure a safe experience for both the artist and the recipient of the gift. The gifts will be delivered on 23, 24 and 25 December.
The Gift of Art campaign is jointly organised by the City of Helsinki, the Helsinki Parish Union and the Finnish Federation of Settlement Houses.