Lahtinen, Emmi: Social Exclusion in the Finnish Art Field: Attitudes and Competence Regarding Cultural and Lingual Diversity in Art and Culture Institutions

The directors of the museums, theatres and orchestras in Finland identify cultural diversity as a strength in a work community but, especially in the museums and drama theatres, hesitate to hire people who do not master any of the national languages. Professional degrees gained from abroad are also found difficult to assess which can cause to favour Finnish qualification. Differences in work practises, quality conceptions and artistic perceptions are also seen as challenges in culturally diverse environments. Cultural diversity is taken account in the audience development, but it is rarely linked to human resources management or the development of the organization. Equality Plans, required by the Finnish law from all organisations employing regularly 30 persons or more, are relatively rare.

These are findings from a research that investigated the status of non-Finnish-born artists and cultural workers in the Finnish arts and culture sector. The research was financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and it was carried out by the Center for Cultural Policy Research CUPORE 2017–2020. The research data consists of two web surveys complemented with interviews. One survey was targeted at the non-Finnish born professionals, while the other was tailored for the directors of the Finnish national art institutions and the museums, theatres and orchestras in the state transfer system. This paper focuses especially in the interviews. 28 members of staff in the Finnish National Museum, Turku City Theatre, Kuopio City Orchestra and Arts Promotion Centre Finland were interviewed to gain understanding of the institutions’ practices and competence in the matter of cultural and lingual diversity.

The positive attitudes towards cultural diversity are too often deflated by lack of financial resources, lack of time and lack of skills. Many directors expressed that they don’t have the sufficient knowledge in their institution to take cultural diversity into account in their operations. The question of racialization adds another layer to the picture and expands the issue beyond nationality or country of birth. The research shows that majority of the directors would welcome more culturally diverse art field in Finland but lack to either identify or to understand how to dissolve practices and structures creating inequality.