Helsinki distributes three million in special grants to arts and culture for coronavirus recovery

The Helsinki Culture and Leisure Committee’s Culture and Library Sub-committee decided on 24 November on an extra grant allocation aimed at communities and organisations in the field of arts and culture. Three million euros have been set aside to cover the special grants in 2020–2021. The sum will be divided between 102 operators.

The one-time special grants are aimed at ensuring the continuation of arts and culture activities under these extraordinary conditions and enlivening the city.

The grants are discretionary, and the comparison of the applications was based on the cultural grant assessment criteria previously laid down by the Culture and Library Sub-committee. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the following criteria specific to this round of applications were also applied:

  • The activities increase Helsinki’s vitality and appeal, and diversity the service selection provided by the City’s cultural services.
  • The activities are impactful and significant, and they are developed continuously.
  • At least about 50% of the respective grant recipients’ total income must come from their own operations.
  • The activities must also promote one or more of the following goals: securing the employment of professional artists and creating new job opportunities, developing digital and technological services related to arts and culture, completing projects that are already under way (extra costs due to the circumstances), and developing new modes of operation based on the effective restrictions and safety guidelines.
  • The activities have not been significantly supported with similar grants from the state or foundations.

The grant allocation is part of Helsinki’s programme aimed at recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Applications for the special grants opened on 7.9.2020 and closed on 2.10.2020. In total, 323 applications were received by the deadline. The total sum of requested grants stood at €16,487,027. The average grant application was for €51,043. The highest and lowest grant applications were for €854,000 euros and €975, respectively. Among the 102 applicants proposed as grant recipients, 40 received a permanent arts and culture grant for their activities in 2019 (45 in 2020). In addition to the Helsinki Culture and Leisure Division’s cultural partnership unit, eight experts presented their views on the projects.

The cancellation of performances, concerts and other art events has made an enormous dent in the income of artists at large. Among the applications, there are many projects that seek to bring art to city residents in ways that have been adapted to the extraordinary conditions. This is the art world’s way of showing its ingenuity and creativity. One of the aims of the grant is to help complete projects that were put on hold due to the pandemic. Funding was granted to operators of all sizes and the sums varied greatly. Even a small grant can make a world of difference in terms of artist’s employment,” says Sub-committee Chair Tuomas Finne.

Through this one-time grant, we seek to secure the continuation and continued availability of arts and culture, which are now at acute risk. We all need arts and culture in Helsinki both as city residents and professionals, despite the extraordinary conditions. It is important to remember that 36% of the jobs in arts and culture are located in Helsinki. The situation in the field is dire, and the concerns are increasing as the outbreak escalates – the cooperation to provide support must be continued,” says Director of Culture Mari Männistö.

Read the full bulletin on the decision on the City of Helsinki website (link opens in a new window)

Swedish and English translations of this bulletin will be published as soon as possible on the website.


Photo: Patrik Rastenberger/Kunsthalle Helsinki

Kunsthalle Helsinki is one of the largest recipients of the special coronavirus grant.