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Hooray! We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary in 2023! The celebrations will be themed around the future of arts.

25 years of Arts Management Education at the Sibelius Academy

The Sibelius Academy Arts Management education celebrates its 25th anniversary on 6-10 June 2022. In this interview, Head of the Department Violeta Simjanovska and Professor Toni-Matti Karjalainen talk about the evolution, impact, and future of arts management education – and give a preview on the upcoming international conference.

Veikko Kähkönen

The year 2022 marks an important milestone, the 25th Anniversary, for the Arts Management Department at the Sibelius Academy of Uniarts Helsinki.

“Bringing the arts, artists, audience, and society together in a meaningful, inclusive, sustainable, and responsible way – that is what arts management is all about”, says Violeta Simjanovska, Head of the Arts Management Department since 2017.

The anniversary week is celebrated under the theme “The Art of Re-thinking: New Era of Arts Management” in three occasions: a Sibelius Summer Academy online course (6-8 June), an international conference online (9-10 June) and a live event in the evening of 10 June at the Helsinki Music Centre. Moreover, an anniversary publication is coming up in the fall.

“Arts Management as an area of study and research has multiple topics and perspectives, many of which directly contribute to the emphasised role of arts and culture in the new challenging era we have entered – in terms of new, ideas, structures and framing. Hence the main title of the week, the art of rethinking”, says Professor Toni-Matti Karjalainen, who joined the Arts Management faculty in 2020. 

An international pioneer in the field

The idea of establishing a programme for arts managers in Finland came from pianist Osmo Palonen back in 1990. Palonen was the director of the Sibelius Academy Continuing Education Centre at the time.

“That was when this field started to evolve in Europe as well, so this programme was one of the pioneers. The top management at the Sibelius Academy recognised the importance of the field and launched the master’s programme in Arts Management in 1997”, Simjanovska says.

Since then, more than 100 top-level experts from Finland and worldwide have contributed to the curriculum and 160 students have graduated from the programme, highly skilled to work in the complex field of arts in Finland and abroad.

Today, the programme is titled Arts Management, Society and Creative Entrepreneurship, and students graduate with the title of Master of Arts.

A caring community

Toni-Matti Karjalainen calls the programme unique in terms of its interdisciplinary and cross-sectional view on arts and culture.

Simjanovska adds: “It is an international programme that reflects the needs of the Finnish society, but also the global challenges. Therefore, we cover a wide spectrum of themes and concepts, starting from the relation between arts and society – from topics such as the value of arts, sustainability, ecology and arts, cultural policy, art activism to entrepreneurship in arts, branding, popular culture, and production.”

“Last but not least, we foster hospitality and care in our community, toward our students and teachers on campus, but also toward the society”, Simjanovska says.

Experienced, bright-minded and creative students

Both Simjanovska and Karjalainen are impressed with the high-quality students joining the programme.

“Our students are special. They are experienced, bright-minded and creative. This creates a specific culture of co-learning and co-ideation within the courses and the whole department”, Karjalainen says.

The programme’s legacy is highlighted by its versatile alumni.

“Some of them take up significant positions in established institutions, some launch their own start-ups. We provide our students with different kind of skills and tools to be able to be strong ambassadors of the field”, Simjanovska says.

“There are lots of arts management graduates working in the Finnish – and also international – cultural institutions, events, companies, art communities, you name it. The education has concretely shaped the structure and contents of our culture”, Karjalainen sums up.

The anniversary conference examines the future challenges of arts management

As part of the anniversary week, the Arts Management Department organises an international research conference online on 9-10 June. The event gathers international researchers, students, and practitioners to showcase and discuss the current state and future challenges of arts management in different arts and culture fields.

“Our field, in the last decade, has been challenged in a tremendous and unpredictable way. We have had to question the role and future of arts management. The decisionmakers show lack of understanding and create uncertainty in the whole sector”, Simjanovska says.

Consequently, the arts management field has started the process of re-thinking its values, concepts, position and role.

“According to recent relevant research, all parameters show that arts managers will play an even more important role in the future than ever before. And this is exactly the message we would like to share – the importance of the field with its new and re-thought concepts for the future of our society”, Simjanovska says.

The conference programme consists of a variety of international presentations, with contents ranging from cultural policies to marketing, from equality to education, from contemporary arts to opera and black metal.

The event kicks off with a panel discussion with long-term international arts management experts and professors: Franco Bianchini (Italy), Milena Dragicevic Sesic (Serbia), Annukka Jyrämä (Finland and Estonia), Chris Torch (USA and Sweden) and Lidia Varbanova (Bulgaria and Canada).

To conclude the two-day conference, specific views into the Finnish cultural life is provided by Kaisa Rönkkö, Executive Director of Music Finland, as well as by Arts Management alumnus Jenni Pekkarinen and Uniarts Rector Kaarlo Hildén.

“Future brings to the new experts not only the task of keeping the arts and culture scenes vital and meaningful, but especially responding to the serious challenges our societies and communities are facing. The environmental crisis, in particular”, Karjalainen says.

Registration to the conference is open until 6 June. Learn more about the conference here.

Join the anniversary party full of music and art on 10 June

Another chance to join the celebration is the public event on Friday evening, 10 June at Musiikkitalo. The event gathers Arts Management alumni, cultural operators, researchers, students, and academics under the same roof with a program full of music and arts.

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