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Avaus - Opening. Becoming an agent in the field of arts and culture in Finland

Avaus - Opening. Becoming an agent in the field of arts and culture in Finland (2017-2020) was a project which supported the participation of artists and cultural workers of non-Finnish origin or background in the Finnish arts and culture scene. The project was carried out together with the Center for Cultural Policy Research Cupore and Globe Art Point, and it was supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the National Agency for Education.


Finnish society is diverse. This means that there are different people living and working in Finland, belonging to diverse groups such as language and cultural minorities. It is also up to the Finnish arts and cultural field to react to this reality. How can foreign-born artists continue their artistic career in Finland? How can cultural workers from different minorities influence what is happening in the Finnish arts and cultural field? How do arts and cultural institutions open up their doors to people of different backgrounds not just as audiences but particularly also as agents? 


The project Avaus (Opening) maps the employment of foreign-born artists and cultural workers through a study by the Center for Cultural Policy Research Cupore and through job shadowing observation carried out by the Culture For All Service. Globe Art Point supports the project as an expert in questions related to the equality and integration of foreign-born artists and cultural workers.


During the project job shadowing observation was carried out in four national and/or state-subsidized cultural institutions to understand how diversity is taken into consideration and what obstacles to inclusion there may be. Based on the research the project aims to develop creative, participatory education packages with which obstacles to participation can be made visible and the competences of professionals of non-Finnish origin or background better recognized and acknowledged.

In 2018, the project Avaus organized diversity training for the arts and cultural organizations which were part of the research. In 2019, the project carried out a Diversity Agent Course for cultural workers of non-Finnish origin or background. The aim of the course was to offer tools for developing diversity in the arts and culture sector.

Insights gained during the project and some preliminary results of the research by Cupore were presented in a seminar organized by Globe Art Point in May 2019.

Research report

In 2017–2020 Cupore carried out a research project to review the status of foreign-born arts and culture professionals in Finland. The research also focused on the related practices at the museums, theaters and orchestras within the central government transfers system, at the national arts and cultural institutions, and more closely, at the National Museum of Finland, the Turku City Theatre, the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra and Arts Promotion Centre Finland. This report compiles the findings of the study. The research was part of the project Avaus.

Emmi Lahtinen, Marjo Mäenpää, Sirene Karri & Ari Kurlin Niiniaho 2020. Opening. The status of foreign-born arts and culture professionals in Finland. Cupore webpublications 63. Center for Cultural Policy Research Cupore.

Avaus 2.0

Avaus 2.0 – Toimijasta mentoriksi (2019–2020) continued the first Avaus project. It received funding from the National Agency for Education. The aim of the project was to promote the cultural diversity in the field of arts and culture by training foreing-born artists and cultural field professionals to work as diversity agents.

Recording of the Concluding Seminar


  • The Opening projects showed diversity need to be taken into account better in the fields of arts and culture.
  • The dialogue between foreign-born – and racialised – artists and professionals of the culture field and the arts and cultural institutions is needed. Mentoring and consultation are a good tool for dialogue.
  • Diversity should be a holistic part of the strategic work of arts and cultural institutions.
  • The art and cultural organisations should have guidelines and plans about diverse personnel policy.
  • Diversity expertise should be reflected in the recruitment criteria for arts and cultural institutions.
  • Racism and discrimination must be actively addressed.
  • The professionals in the arts and culture field need more training on how to be conscious of racism and how to work against it.
  • We encourage arts and culture institutions to use the expertise of diversity agents.
  • A continuation of the diversity agent course is needed.
  • Cooperation between diversity agents and the Culture for All Service must be continued. Free-form meetings and a plan for continued cooperation are needed.
  • The expertise of diversity agents must be promoted systematically.

The recommendations of the research report implemented by Cupore (Center for Cultural Policy Research) and published in summer 2020. The research was part of the project Avaus - Opening. Cupore's research recommends, among other things, the following (Lahtinen, et al. 2020, 122–123):
  • ”More training is needed to develop an understanding of the structures and mechanisms that create discriminatory practices.”
  • ”The Finnish Non-Discrimination Act requires equality plans from organizations that employ regularly 30 or more persons. All arts and cultural institutions are encouraged to draw the plan and re-assess their recruitment practices, recruitment channels, terms used, decision making criteria and language requirements from the point of view of equality and transparency”. 
  • ”In general, enhancing access to information by using easy Finnish and other needed languages whenever possible is also encouraged as a part of equality planning.”
  • ”The Ministry of Education and Culture should create financial incentives inside the government transfer system to encourage and steer the institutions to develop equal work opportunities for foreign-born professionals and persons with diverse ethnic backgrounds.”
  • ”Language training alongside work and affirmative action should be considered as means to enable access to the Finnish cultural sector. ”
  • ”From the viewpoint of accountability there is a need for better monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the given recommendations are followed.
  • "The perspective of foreign-born professionals in Finland would be important to include in future research projects on a broad range. Furthermore, more research is needed in the national context about the career paths and status of arts and culture professionals affected by racialization.” (Ibid. 122- 123.)

Logo of Ministry of Education and Culture.

Globe Art Point

Center for Cultural Policy Research

Contact Information

Dep. Executive Director (until March 31, 2021)
Mira Haataja
+ 358 40 213 6339

Executive Director
Rita Paqvalen
Culture For All Service

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