Opening of the academic year and Uniarts Fest coincided with the occupation of the university

Uniarts Helsinki celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday, 22 September 2023. The festivities started with the opening of the academic year, where the programme included thought-provoking speeches about art and society and the announcement of the Alumni of the Year. The evening continued with Uniarts Fest, the university’s arts festival featuring art, performances and discussions on social issues.

The opening of the academic year was kicked off with a speech by Kaarlo Hildén. In his speech, Hildén talked about how important it is for Uniarts Helsinki to foster international mobility.

“Each barrier set as a hindrance of recruiting the best students and experts to our higher education institutions lowers the standard of Finnish art, science and competence and diminishes the country’s competitive edge. The challenges of immigration must be taken seriously, but the fact that we cannot make it on our own here must be taken at least equally seriously,” Hildén said, referring to the Government’s plans to introduce stricter immigration policies and higher annual tuition fees for students from non-EU and non-EEA countries.

In his speech, Hildén expressed his support for students who staged a sit-in at Uniarts Helsinki on Thursday as a way of protesting the Government’s intentions to make budget cuts that would affect students’ livelihood.

Chair of the Student Union Viivi Tigerstedt also showed support for the students’ sit-in and emphasised the importance of cooperation between students and the university management.

“History writes itself as the occupation of the university is peacefully taking place in the same space as the opening ceremony. This, too, is possible for us here.”

The special guest at the opening ceremony was Director of the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) Kaisa Rönkkö, who discussed the role of art in society and the freedom of art as part of securing democracy and a free society in her speech.

“Art has an increasingly important role in keeping society diverse, appreciative towards others and free for thoughts that we don’t yet even know we’re thinking.”

Read the speeches in full:

The Alumni of the Year are artist-researchers with societal impact

Uniarts Helsinki’s Alumni of the Year were announced at the opening ceremony, and the selected alumni are Jan-Erik Andersson, Annette Arlander and Anna Kuoppamäki.

“This year, the selected Alumni of the Year are artist-researchers with societal impact. Uniarts Helsinki provides the highest level of education in music, fine arts, performing arts and writing in Finland, and we want to draw attention to how arts research makes an impact and is visible in our society,” Hildén explained the selection criteria.

The title of Alum of the Year is awarded each year to select alumni who have highlighted the unique value and role of art and artist education in an exemplary manner through their work.

Uniarts Fest filled the campus with art and discussions

After the anniversary festivities, the evening continued with the arts festival programme of Uniarts Fest, attracting about 1,500 visitors. The programme presented art created by the university community, interesting discussions on social themes focusing on the building blocks of the future and guided tours in campus facilities that the public usually cannot access.

The fifth-ever arts festival

Uniarts Helsinki’s arts festival was organised for the first time at the Helsinki Music Centre in June 2019 under the name Feel Helsinki, and it attracted over 5,500 visitors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the events took place at the Helsinki Music Centre, while some content was made available virtually. This year, the event was organised on the university’s Sörnäinen campus for the second time. The name of the event was changed to Uniarts Fest in 2022.