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New project funded by Kone Foundation is launched: Making space for artistry - equity of disabled artists and artists who are Sign Language users

The Culture for All Service has launched a two-year project, Making space for artistry - equity for disabled artists and artists who are Sign Language users. The project is funded by Kone Foundation.

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“I’ve been working as a musician and music producer for almost 25 years, and as a blind person that hasn’t been easy. In the arts and culture field, bolder choices need to be made and new talents introduced to audiences. When you get to do the real thing as a musician, you can show that you are on an equal footing. Equity is not kindness, pity or an occasional outreach”, says Mikko Herranen, a singer, musician, mixer and producer who is also known from the TV programme Voice of Finland.

The project, which is now starting, consists of artistic work as well as sparring and mentoring of artists. In addition, the project seeks to have an influence on the so-called gatekeepers - funders, curators, critics and educators - in the art and culture field. Things that many artists can take for granted, such as the opportunity to pursue an education or apply for a grant, are not yet fully realized for disable ad artists and artists who are Sign Language users. Curators and critics need more information about the work of disabled artists and artists who are Sign Language users.

Our collaborating partners consider it important to strengthen the equity of disabled artists and artists who are Sign Language users. Therefore, they bring their expertise and are also willing to look at their own practices from an equity perspective. The partners are the Culture Association Finland’s EUCREA, run by disabled artists, as well as the Aine Art Museum, the Finnish Critics' Association, the Association of Finnish Foundations and the Degree Program in Theater Arts at the University of Tampere (Näty).

Creative and experimental solutions to enable working in a residency

In the autumn of 2022, artists will work in a residency and prepare exhibitions for different spaces in Tornio and Haparanda. In 2023, a group exhibition of the works will be compiled at the Aine Art Museum.

Working in a residency is almost impossible for most artists with disabilities. Residencies are inaccessible and often enough concern has not been given to accessibility, individual support or flexibility for the artist. In cooperation with the Aine Art Museum, the aim now is to find creative and experimental solutions to enable the residency work of disabled artists and artists who are Sign Language users. In addition, in Northern Finland the artists’ working conditions, gaining exhibition opportunities and visibility are more challenging than in Southern Finland. One of the goals of the project is to bring artists’ attention to see the possibilities of the North.

“Achieving equality and equity are key goals in the activities of the Aine Art Museum. We are really excited about this collaboration, where the development of museum work and the strengthening of the position of disabled artists go hand in hand”, says Virpi Kanniainen, the museum director of the Aine Art Museum.

Artists are also supported through sparring workshops, artists’ meetings and mentoring between artists at different stages of their careers, as well as networking within the art field of art.

"Sparring and mentoring can help artists focus their resources on grinding their own diamonds", says theater artist Johanna Mattila from the Culture Association Association Finland's EUCREA. “No recording studio in Finland is accessible. With the help of this project, I would like to find networks and funding for setting up a fully accessible studio that I can offer to musicians to work in. Right now working in the music field is impossible for many”, says musician and music producer Mikko Herranen.

The project manager is dancer, performer Maija Karhunen. Also Sari Salovaara from Culture for All works in the project. Sari’s work in promoting equity of disabled people in the art and culture field began already in the 1990’s.


More information and requests:

Maija Karhunen, maija.karhunen@cultureforall.fi, tel. 040 166 2827

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Aine Art Musem's logo.

City of Tornio's logo.
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