Arts Management student: We are encouraged to dream and think big

Read an interview with Laura Valoma.

Riikka Hänninen Arts Management student Laura Valoma

Who are you and how did you end up studying at the Sibelius Academy of Uniarts Helsinki?

My name is Laura Valoma, a second-year master’s student. Master’s studies in Arts Management were my dream already when finishing my bachelor’s in art and media 15 years ago, but work swept me away and the time wasn’t right until now. I’ve been working in the cultural field with festivals for almost 20 years. When applying I kept thinking it was now or never, so how lucky was I to be chosen!

Can you describe the entrance test briefly?

Covid-19 made the exams a bit different, there were two essays to write as preliminary assignments, and through those I was chosen for the interview, which took place on Zoom. The Interview was exciting but the remote mode might have made it a bit more relaxed in my opinion. Meeting the leaders of the programme and the whole interview only made it all the more clear that I wanted in.

What keywords would you use to describe the Arts management, society and creative entrepreneurship master’s programme as a learning environment?

Open: studying is mostly about discussing and interacting with others.

Challenging: you need to dare to challenge yourself and also accept the challenges that come.

Inspiring: it’s inspiring to be surrounded by awesome professionals from different walks of art and culture.

What is your typical study week like?

The first year is intense, with lots of courses and demanding writing assignments. A typical week consists of courses and Fridays are usually dedicated to writing and reading. Writing and reading take up a lot of time.

The second year is a bit calmer, with fewer courses but doing research for the thesis keeps me busy. Outside the courses there is a lot going on, lots of projects and events to take part in. Unfortunately as a parent of a small child I haven’t been able to enjoy those as much as I’d like to.

What is expected of students?

Enthusiasm, interest, critical thinking, and openness. We have been often encouraged to dream and think big.

What kind of skills and capabilities have you developed so far in terms of your professional profile and future options?

I’ve been able to strengthen my know-how in areas of importance to me, such as anti-racism, cultural rights and sustainability. My skills in research and writing have benefitted greatly from this programme and will hopefully lead to new possibilities professionally. Also, networking with fellow students, lecturers and professors is invaluable.

Have you been able to take advantage of study opportunities in the Fine Arts and Theatre academies?

Yes, and I would have loved to do it more if there were only time.

What’s been the best thing about studying at the Sibelius Academy?

The best part has definitely been the development of my own critical thinking and finding my strengths. Sharing thoughts and learning together with my peers are important. We have a lot of great and sometimes heated discussions, which is wonderful.

What has surprised you?

How wide the studies are, covering cultural policy, entrepreneurship, leadership and sustainability. And according to interests, even wider with studies from the other academies and projects. I was also blown away by the great international lecturers and the wonderful community.

And what has been most challenging? 

It’s a lot of work, especially with a family. Time management and scheduling are key. And taking care of your own well-being, balancing the workload with fun.

What tip would you give to prospective applicants to your master’s programme? 

Motivation is most important, and an open critical mind. Everything else can be learned.