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New study on the impact of Finnish cultural institutes

Ministry of Education and Culture
Publication date 8.9.2023 12.32 | Published in English on 12.9.2023 at 15.09
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Photo: Helmi Korhonen, Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes

The Ministry of Education and Culture recently commissioned a study on the impact of Hanaholmen, the Swedish-Finnish cultural centre in Helsinki, and the Finnish cultural institutes operating abroad. Carried out by Miltton, the study examined the perceptions which the cultural institutes and the organisations running them had of their impact.

The study sought to provide new information and understanding of the activities and impact of cultural institutes, identifying the key areas of impact along with critical success factors. The study is primarily based on self-evaluations by representatives of the institutes.

According to the institutes, the most important areas where they make a difference include networks and interaction, promotion of Finland’s country brand, cultural dialogue between countries and, as an emerging field, societal impact.

“Networks and partnerships are considered to be among the institutes’ key strengths, particularly because they support other goals, such as the employment of artists,” says Senior Advisor Viola Strandberg at Miltton.

The report is structured into three thematic areas, each exploring different aspects of the cultural institutes' impact and how it can be measured. The first theme delves into the institutes' mission and how it relates to impact. Theme two identifies barriers to achieving the desired impact, while theme three focuses on impact assessment, exploring the challenges, concerns and ideas that relate to measuring impact.

Drawing from data analysis and Miltton's insights, the report provides potential guidelines for future impact evaluation.

“The institutes would prefer continuous and systematic impact assessment with a uniform approach, which nevertheless takes into account each institute's unique objectives and operational context,” Strandberg says.

Conference on impact evaluation in the field of art and culture

Miltton’s report was published on 7 October in a conference, jointly organised by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes, on impact evaluation in the field of art and culture.

Riitta Kaivosoja, Director General of the Ministry of Education and Culture, noted that while the use of public funds needs to have proper impact,  non-governmental organisations play a major role in Finnish society and they need to be involved in evaluating their impact. One of the conclusions reached at the conference was that the institutes themselves need to provide the evidence for justifying their funding.

In a panel discussion led by Pasi Saukkonen, panellists Aleksi Malmberg, Kati Laakso, Satu Herrala and Marjo Mäenpää emphasised the importance of networking, presence and dialogue in the countries where the institutes are located, both for finding new projects and for building trust. 

Director Hanna Lämsä from the Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes said that the institutions are in the process of creating an impact assessment model with a focus on objectives and indicators which they will identify together and which will be regularly monitored, and on reflecting on and using impact data for developing the operations.

The report titled “What if there were no cultural institutes? Report on the impact of Finnish cultural institutes” (in Finnish) is available online at the Gateway to Information on Government Projects. It includes a brief summary in Swedish and English.

- Viola Strandberg, Senior Advisor, Miltton Oy, [email protected]
- Riitta Heinämaa, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Education and Culture, [email protected]
Hanna Lämsä, Director, Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes, [email protected]