Uniarts Helsinki aims at a clear vision for education in performing arts and fine arts

Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts and Theatre Academy have launched an initiative to create a national vision for arts education in the field of fine arts and for theatre, dance, circus and performance art.

Educational operators in the field of performing arts are a wide and versatile, but also a fragmented group of people and organisations in Finland. There is no joint umbrella organisation, and the core missions and resources of the operators vary a lot. The university is now launching a project titled Vision for Performing Arts Education for 2030, which is carried out together with the performing arts sector and aims at establishing an inspiring vision on what the future holds for education in theatre, dance, circus and performing arts in Finland on all educational levels. The long-term goal is to ensure a strong position for education in performing arts alongside other arts subjects. 

“The benefits of performing arts studies and hobbies include better emotional, interaction and performance skills, for example. I personally believe that we would all benefit if we started teaching these subjects across the board already starting from primary schools in Finland the same way as other arts subjects. This would surely bring even larger benefits to the Finnish society and working life,” says Theatre Academy Vice Dean Ville Sandqvist, who is also the chair of the steering group for the Vision for Performing Arts Education for 2030 project. 

As for fine arts, the educational operators in the field are a more united front, one of the reasons being that art has been taught in Finnish schools for already a long time. However, the need to establish a joint vision exists in fine arts, too. Similarly to the performing arts project, the Vision for Fine Arts Education for 2030 project reflects on relevant challenges and possibilities as a collaboration between all operators on all educational levels in the field. 

“Our operational plan is based on openness, transparency and versatile interaction with the whole field. Even dreaming plays a part in this process. We are lucky, because we also get to take advantage of the results of a project titled Big Picture that is being carried out by the Finnish Association of Art Schools and funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education. There are a lot of mutual benefits,” says Vice Dean Johanna Vakkari, manager of the project at the Academy of Fine Arts. 

The field of arts is currently experiencing a lot of challenges, such as rapid changes in the operational environment and livelihood models due to digitalisation, as well as a narrower and unstable funding base and the fragmentation of the field’s resources. According to Uniarts Helsinki’s Rector Kaarlo Hildén, now is exactly the right time to bring experts from various fields to outline visions for the future of arts education. 

“Art has an incredibly important and diverse role in society, and strengthening it requires a joint vision for the future. The work that we’re now starting will support cooperation between educational operators in the arts sector. A strong and united field of arts education promotes the vitality and success of the entire sector,” notes Hildén.

Both projects are launched in autumn 2021, and besides shaping a common vision, they aim at increasing cooperation between various operators and making the division of responsibilities between them clearer. The work will include regional seminars, online meetings, questionnaires and surveys, and all education providers in the fields are invited to join the process. The finalised visions will be published at the end of 2022. 

By carrying out this vision work, the Theatre Academy and Academy of Fine Arts are following in the footsteps of the Sibelius Academy, which carried out the Vision for Music Education for 2030 project, resulting in a vision that was published at the end of 2020.