Skip to content

Frequently asked questions: Special grant for art and culture communities for recovering from the coronavirus pandemic

What does the proportion of self-financing mean and how is it calculated?

The organisation’s proportion of self-financing is calculated based on the financial statements of 2019 in such a way that public grants or grants awarded by private foundations are not considered the organisation’s own income.

Can the special grant be applied for to cover losses? To what extent?

You can seek the special grant for loss-making operations for autumn 2020. However, it is not intended solely for covering losses, and losses will not be covered 100%. The work and usage plan should include a plan for 2021, as well as thoughts on how the operations can be carried out in new ways while the restrictions or recommendations are in effect. E.g. the grant is not intended for producing unprofitable performances if the capacity of the venue is clearly below the capacity allowed by the restrictions (ca. 40–50% of the normal seating) and the operation continues despite significant losses. We are promoting innovations and new ways of employing artists and facilitating operations.

In which cases are other coronavirus-related grants (that have already been received) considered substantial? What kind of overlap is allowed for the grants used for the same purpose?

A substantial coronavirus-related grant from the state or foundations covers all loss of income for the operating year, as well as the operational development. Projects are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Does the budget for the project need to include the project’s own income?

The application criteria for the special grant do not require the project to have its own income, but the grant from the City cannot extend to 100% of the funding. Therefore, we recommend specifying the project’s other income on the budget. The budget should not include a calculated proportion of voluntary work or similar, which is very common in the arts and culture sector.

The organisation’s own income (self-financing based on the financial statements of 2019) and the self-financing of the project are two different matters.

Which investments are allowed?

Purchases of fixed assets cannot be funded with the grant unless expedience justifies the City’s proportion being paid as a grant. Expedience means that the purchase makes up a small part of the total costs. This means that you are allowed to make minor equipment purchases. You can also purchase services with the grant.

How do I make sure that I am not applying for the grant needlessly? How do I know that my application fulfils all criteria?
Simply fulfilling specific criteria does not ensure receiving the grant. The assessment is discretionary and involves comparison between projects. Our goal is that the special grant helps many operators develop and secure their operations.
We encourage all organisations that fulfil the criteria to apply for the special grant since even applying for the grant is a statement on the distress and importance of the arts and culture sector in Helsinki.

Is this grant allocated on the principle of ‘small sums to many operators’?

There is no such policy. The grants’ purpose is to significantly secure the operations of individual operators so that they are able to continue in autumn 2020 and in 2021. In other words, the special grants are not like the quick grants distributed in spring 2020.

Why is this grant also directed at organisations and communities instead of individual artists?

The special grant is allocated for ensuring and developing the employment of artists in the arts and culture sector. Thus, the premise is supporting the operations of organisations that enable employment, as well as allocating aid for artists through these organisations’ operations. We wish that the projects applied for will involve multi-professional co-operation and focus on innovations that ensure employment for as many people as possible.
Registered artists’ collectives can also apply for the special grant.

How long into 2021 can the operations specified on the application continue?

There are no limits for the operations for 2021.
A review of how the grant was used must be completed by 31 March 2022, at the latest.

Is completing existing productions alone a sufficient justification for the operations?

It is beneficial for the project if the operations are considered from the perspectives of operational development and increasing employment. One criterion is the significance and broad impact of the operations. For projects that meet this criterion, enabling the completion of productions that have already been started may very well be justified.

Is co-operation with other organisations on a project allowed? For example, can the grant be used to pay the salaries of the other organisation’s employees in a co-production?

We support co-operation. The most important matter is that the applying organisation is responsible for the use of the grant and the related reporting.

Does receiving the special grant affect operating grants? Can the grant be used to cover the same operations as in the operating plan?

If the applicant is also seeking the City’s arts and culture grant for permanent operations, the application should include a specification of the areas where the grants overlap. The premise is that the special grant can be allocated for a project that helps start and secure the operations that are funded with the operating grant.

Example: If your project needs the contributions of 10 artists and the operating grant, combined with the project income reduced by the restrictions, can only cover the employment of three artists, you can apply for the special grant for recruiting seven employees. This means that if temporary additional workforce is needed to secure or continue the operations, you can use the grant for hiring this additional workforce.

The special grant is also directed at measures through which operations can be modified to fit the exceptional circumstances.

Does it matter when the organisation was registered?

The applicant must be a registered organisation and able to present financial statements from 2019 to fulfil the application criteria.

The general grant application instructions say that grants cannot be applied for to cover business expenses. Does this mean that enterprise operators cannot apply for a grant for purposes other than development activities?

The following is stated in the general grant application instructions of the City of Helsinki: “Grant recipients may not use grants received from the City for their operations to cover funding or business and investment activity expenses, or to increase their financial assets or other long-term investments.”

Enterprise operators are allowed to apply for this special grant, as stated at the beginning of the grant application instructions: “The City of Helsinki may award grants to legal persons such as registered associations, foundations and limited liability companies, the operations of which can be deemed to serve the public interest”. Operations which serve the public interest refer to operations which meet the criteria of art and culture grants and are not intended to benefit only limited circles (public art and culture activities).

Thus, business expenses refer to business expenses which are not directly linked to the production and implementation of public activities, or which are investments. Expenses related to the public activities of art and culture services may be covered by a special grant.

This means that special grants may be awarded also for business purposes other than development projects, as guided by the application criteria.

Very few communities meet the criterion of having about 50% own income. Why does such a criterion exist?

Application criteria are used also for limiting the scope of applicants and making decision-making visible. Lots of communities meet this criterion. For example, their proportion among the current recipients of our operating grants amounts to about 50%. With this special grant, we aim to support also communities which would receive less assistance under normal conditions (grant decisions based on overall consideration) or which are more likely to be left without grants, even if their activities meet a part of our criteria and are both significant and influential.

We have analysed the situation of different operators under the coronavirus pandemic in a variety of ways. Regarding operations as a whole, it is precisely the communities with the biggest proportion of own income that have experienced the biggest loss of income in proportion to their overall income (for example, overall incomes in which the proportion of ticket revenue is relatively large have been particularly affected by attendance restrictions due to the pandemic, and by the public’s hesitation in returning to art and culture events).

Due to annual fluctuations, we encourage all communities operating with at least 40% own income to apply for the special grant intended for art and culture communities to counteract the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, in so far as the activities meet other application criteria. We apply overall consideration in evaluating the fulfilment of this criterion as well.