null ArtsEqual secures €2.6 million in funding

The Arts as Public Service: Strategic Steps towards Equality (ArtsEqual), a research project coordinated by the University of the Arts Helsinki (Uniarts Helsinki), has received funding of 2.6 million euros from the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland. Funding was now granted for the period from 1 January 2018 to 30 April 2021.

ArtsEqual, the largest art research project in Finnish history, examines how art could increase equality and well-being in society in Finland of the 2020s if it were understood as a public service. In addition to Uniarts Helsinki, members in the multidisciplinary consortium project are the Foundation for Cultural Policy Research Cupore, Lappeenranta University of Technology, University of Turku and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

– During the next few years, our aim is to paint a clearer picture of the mechanisms producing inequality in the accessibility of art and of the measures that help tear them down, says Professor Heidi Westerlund of Uniarts Helsinki.

The funding decision was made based on the Strategic Research Council’s evaluation after the first years of the project. The evaluation concentrated on the achievements made in the project’s research work and interactive community engagement, as well as on the future plans of the project. The funding period is divided into two phases, with the bigger sum allocated for the first phase. The funding for the 2015–2017 period was almost four million euros.

During the first phase, the project has examined how marginalised groups could gain an equal access to art, how art institutions and schools could become more agile so that they could increase the availability of art, and how cooperation between different occupational groups could promote equality. The project has led art and art education related interventions in different sectors of society and built an extensive network of partners to promote the arts and equality.

– We’re especially happy that already at this stage of the project, we’ve been able to publish national research-based policy briefs. Topics have included art activities in schools, prevention of loneliness and the role of the arts in the social and healthcare service reform, says Professor Kai Lehikoinen of Uniarts Helsinki, Vice Director of ArtsEqual.

One of the most recent initiatives in the project, for example, has focused on strengthening the position of the Sami culture in Finland. It has been carried out in collaboration with different Sami organisations and representatives.

ArtsEqual has conducted research with over 50 collaborators. Collaborators include e.g. different ministries, the Finnish National Agency for Education, Arts Promotion Centre of Finland, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, as well as several cities and NGOs. Overall, more than 90 researchers in six research groups have contributed to the project.

The Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland provides funding to long-term and programme-based research aimed at finding solutions to the major challenges facing Finnish society. It will grant a total of 41 945 056 euros to projects for their second funding period.

Interview requests:

ArtsEqual Project Director, Professor Heidi Westerlund, tel. +358 50 501 5622,